AmEx later today (March 18) is planning to unveil its new loyalty program – Plenti – in its ongoing attempts to expand its consumer base.
The program is structured similarly to drug-store reward programs insofar as customers can earn points by shopping at one of the seven participating retailers. Merchants teaming up with AmEx include AT&T Inc., Rite Aid Corp., Macy’s, Hulu and Exxon.
AmEx, through the cards it issues and its processing network, will operate the program, collecting fees from the partner companies.
Once seen as a status symbol for the affluent, AmEx now faces competition from firms like JPMC that are now pursuing wealthy potential card holders. AmEx is also facing the end of its 16 year deal with Costco for providing their branded cards. This has left the card issuer/processor looking to expand beyond its wealthy core – though that change over is a long play that will take some years.
“We want to be a much more welcoming brand,” said Abeer Bhatia, chief executive of AmEx’s U.S. loyalty division. “This helps us to do that.”
Bhatia also commented that Plenti is unique because as opposed to most rewards programs – which lock consumers to a single store or airline – this program pulls from many “day-to-day” locations for American shoppers, which will make it easier to build points and earn rewards. Mr. Bhatia also noted that Plenti users will be able to use any form of payment, not just American Express cards.
The concept here in the U.S. is two years in development before its announced launch today – though Poland, Germany and Italy have simalar programs.
The merchants participating in Plenti are also hoping to get a sales bump from their participation..
“We’re trying to see where the American consumer is going,” said Martine Reardon, Macy’s marketing chief.
AmEx will officially kick off Plenti in May, at which time they are also expected to release a co-branded card that would allow users to earn extra points in the future.