Amex Grooms Merchant Loyalty Coalition Plenti For Marketing Insights

PlentiPlenti, the new American Express-operated loyalty coalition, seeks to streamline the rewards program.

The premise is that consumers can gather loyalty points for up to two years from a variety of partner brands, including ExxonMobil, Hulu, Macy’s, Rite Aid, Direct Energy, Nationwide, AT&T and Amex, and can redeem those points across participating Plenti merchants.

“The average US consumer is enrolled in 20 loyalty programs but uses only eight,” said Ed Gilligan, president of American Express, speaking Thursday at LinkedIn’s FinanceConnect summit in New York.

He noted that American Express’s acquisition of German marketing services company Loyalty Partner in 2011 provided the underlying performance-marketing platform used to tailor personalized offers to Plenti members. US Loyalty, a division of American Express, launched in 2011, will manage the program.

“This is a mobile, big-data play … where we only get compensated if we help hit their individual performance targets,” Gilligan said.

Amex says it has the ability to target personalized, relevant offers on behalf of Plenti partners, though it will not share transactional data with different companies – so Rite Aid would never see that a customer bought a pair of shoes at Macy’s, for instance.

However, Plenti shares enrollment information – such as name, email and mailing address, phone number and date of birth – with coalition partners, which Amex will manage in a privacy-compliant way, with the goal of increasing marketing efficiencies.

The consumer, in turn, will receive customized and relevant offers, should they opt in to receive marketing promotions, while Plenti’s Online Marketplace acts as an affiliate marketplace where consumers can log in and receive Plenti points for shopping at an array of retail storefronts.

“We want Plenti to become the core marketing platform for our partners,” a Plenti spokesperson noted. “In other words, when they think of where to invest their advertising dollars between TV, radio and digital, we want to be a part of that mix.”

That said, Plenti could face an uphill climb in driving consumer adoption, as it’ll be one more card or app for the consumer to deal with, according to Jeff Fagel, CMO for Gannett’s G/O Digital division and former brand director at Sears and ConAgra.

“From Belly to LevelUp, Shopkick and Foursquare, social engagement, payment and loyalty start-ups have lured brands with the promise of mobile consumer engagement, but the verdict is still out on their ability to drive loyalty, brand connection or revenue,” he noted.

For Plenti to succeed, it will have to invest in new customer acquisition, “but more importantly, they’ll have figure out how drive consumer behavior – crappy offers with little perceived value won’t cut it,” Fagel added.

Consumers who sign up in-store are asked to finish the process online, and they are able to download the Plenti app on iOS or Google Play or manage their account at

Plenti’s ultimate success hinges on its ability to crack the mobile component.

“Mobile is a behavior, not just a channel,” Fagel noted. “Plenti … [needs to provide] locally relevant, contextually targeted ads that add to, not disturb, their native user experience.”

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  1. That explains why I was pushed a Plenti card at a random Citgo in the middle of Pennsylvania last week. I learned that I would have received four Plenti points for the purchase of my diet Coke.

    Looking at the brochure, I learned that 4,000 Plenti points would get me $10 off purchases. A rate of 1,000 diet Cokes to $10 surely fits the textbook definition of “crappy offers.” The Plenti brochure went right into the trash.

  2. Eitan

    It is actually $10.00 for every 1,000 Plenti points @ Mark. Wrong math on your part. More like $40.00. Points add up! Especially across 8 brands.