Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bing Rewards, Part III

For my latest update on Bing Rewards, I thought I'd take a few steps back and talk about one of the oldest loyalty programs in the business: Betty Crocker Rewards. In 1929, the company began printing coupons on the outside of packages and letting users redeem them for free products. A few years later, they developed the points system and created a rewards catalog that users could choose from when they amassed enough points. Prizes could be utilitarian products like silverware or tablecloths, but that was okay - the Great Depression was raging and many times, consumers couldn't afford to purchase these things on their own. Betty Crocker Rewards did double duty by rewarding consumers for purchasing things that they had to buy anyway.

Despite the success of Betty Crocker Rewards, companies still struggle with loyalty programs. Although many retailers have them, information on whether they actually translate into higher sales or more frequent purchases is unclear. One thing is certain, however: companies hoping to run successful rewards programs have to figure out who their most profitable customers are, what they value, and how to deliver it to them in the easiest way possible to keep them coming back.

A brief update on my Bing Rewards status: I am about three weeks in and I'm just shy of 600 points. According to the online catalog, this will earn me a $5 donation to a variety of charities, a $5 Amazon gift certificate, or two ringtones downloaded to my phone. Something tells me I'm not going to make that DVD I've been saving up for...

PS - The perspective that started it all was published yesterday in the latest edition of RTCRM Perspectives. Check it out, along with other fantastic discussions of publicly broadcasting your STD test, Apple's new Ping feature, QR codes and the ASPCA's use of digital strategies.

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