Amex plans US coalition scheme
Attempt to crack market that has so far been resistant to multi-partner programmes
American Express is launching a multi-partner rewards scheme called Plenti that will be attempting to become the first coalition scheme to achieve success in the US market.
The initial retail partners on the scheme are AT&T, ExxonMobil, Macy’s, Nationwide, Rite Aid, Direct Energy and Hulu.
Members will be able to earn and use Plenti points for purchasing a wide range of products.
The scheme will be free to join, and consumers can earn points and discounts using any form of payment accepted by the participating brands, including cash, prepaid and any debit, charge or credit card (including those from Visa and MasterCard).
The programme will officially launch in May with the initial seven partners and Amex says it will expand to include more brands in additional categories.
Coalition schemes such as Nectar (in the UK and Italy) and Payback (Germany, India and Poland) have been operating successfully in a range of markets but – as with EMV payment cards – the US has so far proved resistant to the concept. Amex has experience of coalition schemes in other markets via its ownership of Payback operator Loyalty Partner.
Amex cites recent research which indicates that 72% of Americans say they would prefer a rewards programme that allows them to shop at many stores versus a single brand.
It says Plenti is designed to address this need, giving consumers options to earn points and additional value through special offers and product discounts.
Plenti offers a range of ways for consumers to earn points:
• Earn points when buying a tank of fuel at a participating Exxon- or Mobil-branded service station and use the points for savings toward a pair of shoes at Macy’s or macys.com.
• Earn points when signing up for qualifying wireless services at AT&T, or for eligible charges on AT&T wireless bills.
• Earn points for eligible Nationwide auto or property insurance.
• Earn points by taking advantage of special offers on a wide range of beauty, health and wellness and everyday items at Rite Aid.
Amex says every 1,000 points will translate to at least US$10 in savings, and members can earn points faster by activating special promotional offers across participating brands or through Plenti’s online offer centre and online marketplace.
“This is a perfect time for a coalition loyalty programme in the US, as online marketing becomes more efficient and American consumers become more accustomed to rewards programs, special offers and discounts,” said Ed Gilligan, president at Amex. “With American Express’ deep experience with the membership rewards programme and acquisition of Loyalty Partner in 2011, we are the right company to operate a loyalty program of this scale, involving such celebrated brands.”
US Loyalty to operate scheme
Amex division US Loyalty will serve as the operator of Plenti, and will issue the rewards and oversee the centralised marketing activities for the programme in collaboration with the founding companies. In addition, US Loyalty will be responsible for securely managing consumer data collected through Plenti.
In 2011, American Express acquired Loyalty Partner. The company operates three subsidiaries including: Payback, a multi-partner loyalty programme designed to deliver value to consumers and generate additional revenue for participating companies. Payback manages coalition loyalty programmes in Germany, Italy, Poland, India and Mexico and has more than 60 million active customers.