Survey Finds The Creepiest Loyalty Program Behavior

A new survey ranking loyalty programs took an interesting approach to seeing how retailers balance something loyalty customers say they want—relevant messages from the merchant—with something they decidedly don't want: too many demands for personal information. And in an unusual display of honesty, the survey called those demands "creepy and weird."

Topping the list of things loyalty customers actually liked were personalized discounts based on purchasing habits (preferred by 69 percent) and personalized offers based on preferences that customers manage and update (62 percent), according to Maritz Loyalty Marketing, which released the survey results last week.

None of that is especially surprising—if customers didn't want discounts and offers, they wouldn't have signed up for the loyalty program in the first place.

And the most "creepy and weird" loyalty-program behavior?

  • Reviewing a customer's friends' status updates and photos to determine whether the customer is eligible for rewards or special benefits based on shared interests (found creepy by 52 percent).

  • Offering rewards or special benefits in exchange for access to personal information such as personal income and household composition (44 percent).

  • Asking for a customer's credit card number through the retailer's website so the program can give a cash-back credit on the card statement if the customer spends more than a certain amount (43 percent).

  • Asking to review a customer's status updates and photos in order to offer rewards or special benefits based on profile content, just because the customer "Liked" or "Followed" the program (40 percent).

  • Asking for personal information when enrolling to target promotions to the customer's specific demographic (40 percent).

Based on the survey results, Maritz recommended some commonsense ways to avoid creeping out loyalty customers: Ask permission and be transparent; ask again when circumstances change; honor the social contract, not just the legal contract.

But the company might have added one more: Call things what they are, not by marketspeak euphemisms. Asking loyalty customers "Is this OK with you, or does it just sound too creepy?" may sound like marketing suicide, but it tells customers you care about their privacy comfort levels a lot better than a 5,000-word privacy statement.

For more:

- See the survey results summary

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