As we mentioned in our most recent COLLOQUY cover story on today's "squeezed" middle class, offering flexible and simple redemption options is essential for consumers struggling not just for money, but for time.
In that piece, we interviewed the folks over at Citi ThankYou, who have rolled out a variety of easy-redeem options over the past couple of years, including the opportunity to use points to pay down mortgages and student loans.
Its latest reward-redemption debut, announced yesterday, is a collaboration with electronics retailer Best Buy: It is a new mobile rewards app that allows members to redeem Citi ThankYou points on their iPhone, iPod Touch or Android Device towards shopping, buying and shipping purchases from Best Buy.
After downloading the app from the Apple App Store or Android Market, members can log in and browse the Thank You Rewards catalog for Best Buy products, and redeem rewards instore or remotely by scanning barcodes or typing in a UPC code.
The products can be picked up at a local Best Buy within minutes (members also get special discounts for picking up instore), or shipped anywhere in the U.S.
As we discussed in the "squeezed" middle class cover story, smart marketers are realizing how essential it is to provide convenient ways for customers to shop and redeem rewards.
According to Michele Azar, vice president of Emerging Digital Platforms at Best Buy, the Citi ThankYou app is another way to help customers connect. "Expanding upon our extensive network of stores and knowledgeable Blue Shirt employees, this app is yet another convenient way for our customers to connect with the right technology to fit their lifestyle," she said.
I also see the debut of the Citi ThankYou app as yet another example that proves encouraging redemption is not a bad thing. To the contrary, it sends a message to consumers that the loyalty program is thriving and that the company wants to build a long-term relationship with consumers — not just sell in the short-term. Time and time again, top loyalty marketers show that customers who redeem are more valuable than those who don't (if you follow this blog regularly, you'll know that we've had dust-ups from time to time around this issue).
"Our intent is always to meet customer needs and give customers the ultimate in flexibility," said Amy Harris, Senior Vice President of Rewards and Loyalty Marketing at Citi, in an interview for "The Squeezed Middle Class." And her colleague, Ralph Andretta, Executive Vice President of Loyalty and New Products at Citi, echoed that sentiment in the announcement of the mobile rewards apps' debut: "We continue to evolve the ThankYou experience to deliver immediate value that is meaningful to members' increasingly mobile lifestyles. This new app is a first in the marketplace and delivers a more flexible and convenient way to redeem points on the go – at Best Buy stores or virtually from anywhere."
In her role as Senior Editor, Sharon writes and edits stories for COLLOQUY magazine. She helps develop future communications and research initiatives, and also works on white papers and thought leadership content for other lines of business within LoyaltyOne.