Reenvision Loyalty Series: Loyalty Unstuck

Loyalty Science Lab
12 min readJan 18, 2023

Advice on revamping your loyalty strategy and mindset

Photo by Tanja Cotoaga on Unsplash

Do you think loyalty is dead? Or are you trying to move beyond the same ol’ same ol’ loyalty strategy at your company? In the latest edition of the Reenvision Loyalty Series, our guest contributor Phil Rubin, a global leader in strategic customer marketing and loyalty, offers some deeply thoughtful answers.

Phil founded rDialogue, a leading independent customer loyalty firm that worked with blue-chip global clients, before it was acquired by Bond Loyalty. He is currently the founder and principal of Grey Space Matters, an innovation and growth advisory that works with emerging technology companies, investors and large enterprise clients in a variety of roles, all designed to drive profitable growth.

Having worked in loyalty marketing for more than 30 years, it’s clear to me that loyalty is stuck. While loyalty programs have become ubiquitous, the majority do nothing to differentiate the brand(s) that sponsor them. Most importantly, there are too many that are not driving profitable growth, though to be fair, loyalty programs in general are not properly measured.

Modern loyalty marketing is now more than 40 years old, having started when American Airlines introduced AAdvantage in 1981*. A week to the day later, United Airlines launched Mileage Plus, and the beginning of loyalty marketing being largely a sea of sameness began. This also began the notion that loyalty programs were synonymous with loyalty marketing. Today both of these widespread misconceptions and strategic blunders remain pervasive.

Loyalty program is not loyalty marketing!

Among the biggest mistakes business leaders and marketers make are both equating loyalty marketing with loyalty programs and also viewing loyalty marketing and loyalty itself, as transactional. This explains why, with over 3.5 billion memberships in the US alone, activation and engagement rates remain low and why a majority of consumers are unsatisfied with the level of personalization. Furthermore, a majority of members are also unsatisfied with loyalty programs making them feel recognized. When you consider loyalty a feeling, that’s a problem.

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Loyalty Science Lab

We are a university research lab devoted to scientific research on brand/customer loyalty. Follow us at https://www.linkedin.com/company/loyalty-science-lab.