The way to keep customers via loyalty programs is not easy and cheap but in spite of this the conference Loyalty over Gold brought clear proofs it can pay off
Published 11/14/2011
Program of the conference Loyalty over Gold, which took place on 10th November 2011 at Prague hotel Dorint Don Giovanni, confirmed the way to keep loyal customers through building loyalty programs is not easy and cheap in this era, but in spite of this the conference brought clear proofs it can pay off to some companies. Conference presentations and discussion of nearly a hundred experts active in the area of retail, banking and other services confirmed that programs offering emotional dimension in addition to communicated discounts work better. 

Changes in the attitude of customers were described in the opening presentation of Martin Mravec, Director of GfK Slovakia. According to the research results the customer loyalty in many segments decreases, especially in relation to the growing maturity of customers, their better awareness and focus on short-term goals. The priority reason for “unfaithfulness” is usually the price, but for many services quality and approach to customers play an important role, too. The biggest weakness is, according to 80 % of respondents of the representative research, the personnel. In the case of retail their unskilled and unwilling attitude, in the case of banks or service utilities it is a cold and technical approach to customers. From the research there also resulted recommendations about what is important for the loyalty program to be attractive for customers. It is the possibility to combine discounts resulting from the loyalty program with other discounts, offering advantages without short-term limit and emotionally attractive and adequately frequent communication of the program.

Across segments there dominates the focus of marketing communication “come and buy”, less attention is paid to retention and loyalty – “stay and come again”, which puts more stress on quality of serving processes. But it can be successful, as the following presentation of Marc Groenewoud, Customer Management Director of Makro/Metro C&C, described success of strategy they use in their company to address 5 % of their top Gold customers. For them Makro assures a specific scale of services (exclusive opening hours, different way of parking and service) including personal contact with the client that creates the emotional dimension of this service. To other customers it offers variable bonus programs whose strength is transparency of price advantage and dominant visibility at the floorspace and in all communication channels, including Facebook.

Miroslav Střihavka, General Manager of new on-line Zuno Bank, was speaking about effort to set relationships with customers and he was supporting it by the fact that call center of the bank has a name and tries to act like “relationship” center. Bank targets at self-confident customers making individual decisions who don’t want to be bothered but want to have fun, even on internet. Therefore social networks and sending comics are important part of communication.

A real “benchmark” in the area of loyalty program is Club Card Tesco. Results of operation of this sophisticated program at Czech and Slovak market were summarized by Jon Beill from the company dunnhumby, which has been building the program for Tesco in the whole world, not only as a part of communication strategy towards customers, but mainly as a base for business strategies, directing assortment and prices. Participants were interested the most in the future of Tesco Club, for example in future possibility to gain Club points via cooperation with other partners or by shopping at

Second program block was dealing with coalition loyalty programs. There the most interesting was experience resulting from partnership of GE Money Bank and Agip presented by Josef Jehlík and Kateřina Lédlová. From the presented data it clearly resulted that the mutual acquisition potential paid off and the four years cooperation on Bene+ program brings positive results to both sides. The final presentation of Jan Bízik, co-author of Renome project, was very interesting. It was a precious summary of “worst practices“, or example of the way “not to take”. Even though the coalition program Renome had a great potential for success at its time, it suffered by not having good central management, its concept was changed on the go and it was almost not communicated at all in the network of partner stores. Therefore in marketing textbooks it can be referred as “well hidden program”.    

The afternoon discussion session about future of loyalty programs with participation of representatives of retail and suppliers of other B2C services was led by Jaroslav Kuchař from Blue Strategy, which was the expert guarantor of the event. Participants of the panel and in the audience agreed it is possible to expect growth of importance of loyalty programs in B2C marketing mix, as well as the growth of competition between “cards in the wallet”. Food retailers will have crucial advantage thanks to frequency of use. For them loyalty cards can be a key tool for strengthening competitiveness thanks to using data from analyses of shopping baskets in key processes of retail, like stock management, assortment and price management or formats development. The greatest risks of loyalty programs are growing costs and possibility of trumping in the height of rewards between competitors, which is very dangerous if the program lacks emotional dimension of the relationship with customer.

Facts about the conference:
Conference Loyalty over Gold (third year on this topic) took place on 10th November 2011 in hotel Dorint Don Giovanni in Prague. Its expert guarantor was the company Blue Strategy, main partner GE Money Bank and main media partner

For more information about the topic of loyalty programs contact:
Jaroslav Kuchař, Partner, Blue Strategy

Contact for media:
Zuzana Mračková, Client Service Manager, Blue Events
Tel.: +420 222 749 841, e-mail: