Airlines Upgrades Without Loyalty Rewards
Christopher Elliot has compiled a list of ways airline passengers can potentially upgrade their seating without using the airline’s rewards. He suggests choosing flights with many empty seats, among several other strategies.
What makes this system-gaming interesting is his rationale for it. He writes, “Airlines demanded way too much in exchange for a slightly more comfortable seat: unquestioning brand loyalty, an encyclopedic knowledge of their arcane and constantly changing loyalty program rules, or a briefcase full of cash.”
Loyalty programs are becoming increasingly less about points and more about experiences. If a significant number of flyers are saying that the exclusive experience of flying first-class isn’t worth participating in an airline’s loyalty program, the airline industry may need to find new ways to communicate the value proposition.
Retail Memberships. Good or Bad?
Increasingly, retailers are using premium loyalty programs, which require members to sign up and pay a fee (think Amazon Prime). To make it worth the cost, retailers that use these programs typically provide more substantial rewards and benefits than you’d get from a traditional, unpaid program. This trend is likely to continue, but we’re beginning to see that this model comes with advantages and disadvantages to consumer and brand, alike.
Blue Apron Restrategizes to Achieve Profitability
If you listen to podcasts, you’ve probably heard promotions for the meal-kit service, Blue Apron. Like other meal-kit services, Blue Apron’s subscription-based model has not generated long-term customer loyalty. To change the record, Blue Apron has launched a scaled-down, lower-obligation version of its service. Cheaper kits will be available through Walmart’s The brand has also announced that it will decrease it’s marketing budget in an effort to make more money-per-customer. We’ve noted that brands tend to put money and time into customer acquisition at the expense of customer retention, so Blue Apron’s shift is likely to prove a wise decision.
CVS Offers Free Heart-Health Screenings, $15 Million American Heart Association
Participating in social causes is good for brands, and it’s a trend you can count on seeing more of. CVS has announced that it will be celebrating Valentine’s Day by providing free heart-health screenings each Thursday and Friday this February. The brand has also announced a three-year, $15 million commitment to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. Strategically, this is something of a double-whammy, as CVS is enticing customers to enter its stores while providing a meaningful public service that is authentic to the brand.

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