Eighteen months in, and American Express’ coalition loyalty program, Plenti, continues to grow — drawing merchants and consumers alike to join up.
“We launched May of last year,” said Josh Berwitz, leader of business development and existing partnership management for Plenti. “We’re very pleased with the progress of the program and where it is right now.”
Currently, Plenti has 36 million active members in the U.S. and a wide array of businesses on board, from AT&T to ExxonMobil, Hulu to Harveys Supermarkets.
“We bring together a number of popular merchants in categories where consumers spend regularly, and they essentially join a common loyalty program,” said Berwitz. “They all issue and for the most part redeem Plenti points.”
What this allows Plenti to do, he said, is to broaden the potential pool of customers for participating partners and give partners the ability to amplify their branding and better understand their potential customers — all while increasing customer loyalty and driving new business.
To date, Berwitz said that Plenti users have collectively earned over 40 billion points, which translates to a total of least $400 million.
“They’re earning significant value in the program,” he said. “They’ve also redeemed over 90 million offers, meaning our partners see the value in putting additional offers in front of our customers to further engage existing customers or to drive additional customers into their stores.”
ExxonMobil, for instance, can attribute a 1 percent sales increase across fuel sites to signing on with Plenti.
The most recent addition to Plenti’s pool of participating partners is nationwide casual dining restaurant chain Chili’s.
“We regularly look at categories that we think would be interesting to consumers in the program and then at partners within those categories we think would make a good fit,” said Berwitz.
Chili’s is Plenti’s first venture into the restaurant space.
“Dining is an interesting category from a coalition standpoint because it is a higher-frequency area, and it’s a category that a large portion of consumers partake in,” he said.
What initially drew Plenti to Chili’s was its nationwide footprint, a past demonstration of commitment to loyalty with its My Chili’s Rewards program and the fact that they are progressive on the digital front, said Berwitz.
“They operate tablets across all of their locations, which are an opportunity to enroll members in loyalty and to facilitate payments,” he added.
However, signing on new partners isn’t as simple as calling them up. Berwitz noted that the coalition format can initially be a point of concern — especially the part where one brand’s points can be used in another brand’s store.
Plenti doesn’t pit directly competitive businesses head to head, but Berwitz said the coalition model is often a topic of discussion with new partners.
“It’s a natural question to ask,” he said. “But I think the partners in the program have been very pleased with the redemptions in the form of points that are coming to them. Coupled with the sales, the new customers and enhanced engagement that come as the result of the program — they’re seeing a lot of value.”
And as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, Plenti’s partners will probably see even more value in the program.
“As our partners have started to embed us into their overall promotional strategy, we are ramping up offers with them that are consistent with their strategies,” said Berwitz. “We’re working across our partners to make sure that we are putting offers out with them that are in line with their respective holiday season strategies.”