Consider pulling into a gas station, filling up your tank and earning a point per dollar, then applying those points to get discounts on shoes at a department store, or cough drops at a drugstore.
Or imagine getting points for discounts at Macy’s or Exxon just by paying for your auto or homeowner’s insurance.
That’s the premise behind Plenti, a new cross-brand loyalty program launching in May whereby shoppers can earn points at Macy’s, Rite Aid, AT&T, ExxonMobil, Nationwide, Hulu and Direct Energy and bundle those points to get discounts at any of those seven companies.
“We’ve been talking about this for the last year and a half to two years,” said Martine Reardon, Macy’s Inc.’s chief marketing officer. “It’s the kind of program we have seen in Europe and Mexico and really love the model, this idea of a coalition. There are lots of fabulous rewards programs, but generally they involve one specific brand or company. All of the partners in Plenti really complement each other.” Down the road, there could be additional companies participating, Reardon noted. Macy’s will be aggressively marketing Plenti including print ads, in-store signage and online.
The participating companies in Plenti were chosen “based on how important they ranked in a consumer’s life,” Reardon said. “We also [wanted] partners that had a reach that spread across the country, so Plenti penetrated in every part of the U.S.”
American Express will operate the program, but shoppers can use any form of payment to participate. Plenti members accumulate a point [or a penny] for every dollar spent.
“There’s never been one integrated loyalty program in the U.S. involving many large companies,” said Jed Scala, head of marketing and product for Plenti. “It’s about earning points and using them on the things you use and buy on an everyday basis,” he said.
Many consumers with loyalty cards rack up points and never take advantage of them, but Scala said by combining points accumulated by shopping at one brand with those accumulated at another, it’s easier and faster to earn and use the rewards. Also, instead of having separate loyalty cards stuffed in your wallet, the one Plenti card will be accepted at the seven companies. In addition to points, Plenti members will receive discounts on certain items at the participating stores in the program, and the Plenti app will provide personalized offers, Scala said.
“This is the first and only program of its kind in the country, and it will give consumers the opportunity to earn and redeem points on everyday spending including fuels, convenience store and car wash purchases at Exxon- and Mobile-branded stations,” said Matt Bergeron, vice president of marketing for ExxonMobil.
“Eligible Nationwide members who enroll in Plenti can now earn points just by paying for their insurance and then use those points across a growing collection of America’s top brands,” said Matt Jauchius, chief marketing officer for Nationwide.
A similar loyalty program, called Payback, is operated by American Express in Mexico, Germany, Poland and Italy. The Payback program has 60 million active members. In Italy, for example, participants in Payback include Carrefour, Esso, H63 and Alitalia.
Plenti marks Macy’s introduction to a loyalty point program. Macy’s existing Star Rewards program, which is not point-based, offers coupons, surprise discounts at the cashier, early access to sales and breaks on shipping fees, among other benefits. Still, there will be ways in which the Plenti program can be linked to Macy’s Star Rewards.
According to Macy’s statistics, 71 percent of all U.S. households will be within five miles of at least two of the companies participating in the program, and that 72 percent of Americans say they’d prefer a rewards program that allows them to earn rewards at many stores versus just one.
Around the world, coalition loyalty programs have made saving money easier for more than one billion people, according to Finaccord, a British market research firm.