Membership cards and discount offers are important elements of marketing programs designed to build customer loyalty. Consumers and business customers can apply for membership cards offered by companies that sell products or services that they buy frequently. The cards provide customers with such benefits as discounts on future purchases or such privileges as access to a members’ lounge at an airport. Membership cards may be free to customers or may incur a charge if they offer high-value privileges.
Membership cards provide companies with an opportunity to add value for their customers. Store customers, for example, may receive exclusive offers or rewards in the form of loyalty points that they can exchange for other products or services. Banks may offer their customers higher credit limits or the services of a personal banker. Business customers may receive free delivery or 24-hour service. These added-value services differentiate companies from their competitors and may provide an incentive to purchase from the company that offers the extras.
Companies can structure their membership programs and discount offers to encourage higher spending. They may offer tiered discounts or additional rewards to customers who spend above a certain level. Companies can also offer different categories of membership to customers who commit to spending at an agreed-on level. The scheme might offer silver, gold and platinum membership cards, each with corresponding levels of benefit.
Membership cards that incorporate magnetic strips enable companies to capture data at the point of sale and build a picture of individual customers’ spending patterns and preferences. These data enable them to develop a detailed understanding of their customer base and create personalized marketing campaigns that build stronger customer relationships. A retailer, for example, might offer individual customers a series of discount vouchers based on their most frequent purchases.
Provided the scheme offers benefits that customers value, membership cards can strengthen loyalty to a brand. Customers who receive personalized discount vouchers, for example, are likely to continue purchasing the same brand to take advantage of the offer. Membership cards can also solidify a customer's connection to a company, particularly if the customer enjoys high-value privileges. A frequent flier who qualifies for automatic upgrades or express check-in, for example, may be reluctant to change carriers and lose the privileges.