Airlines didn’t invent customer loyalty programs. The first ones were developed for grocery stores in the 1950s. Many of us remember pasting pages of S&H Green stamps into books and going to the redemption centers with our moms to choose between coffee makers and camp stoves.
In fact, loyalty programs have become so ubiquitous that a Fair Isaac study showed that only 22 percent of next-generation shoppers find the programs important in creating repeat business.
Still, according to Jupiter Research, more than 75 percent of Americans have at least one loyalty card. Forrester Research and META Group Inc. suggest that since many loyalty programs really trade customer information for future discounts, the trend is likely to continue. In 2003, companies spent $1.2 billion on loyalty programs and the amount continues to increase.