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Consumers signing up for frequency programs are interested in hard cash, not soft benefits such as preferential treatment, according to a study released by the Retail Advertising & Marketing Association International.

Of the 3,000 consumers surveyed, 57% said they joined frequency programs because of financial rewards, such as discounts. Money-saving components were particularly strong motivators for supermarket programs.

"Retailers really thought it was all about recognition," said Kristen Marshall Napoleon, national/international marketing manager at market researcher Marshall Marketing Communications, which did the study for the retail group. "Right now, people are in it for the money."


The findings show this is true of women in general, and working women in particular, she said.

Men appeared more interested in the softer aspects of the programs, with 14% saying they joined programs for recognition, while 9% of women and 8% of working women were interested in frequency-program perks.

Preferences also were important to 15% of blue-collar workers, both men and women, compared with only 8% of white-collar workers, both men and women.

The value of frequency programs to retailers is high, especially in light of the retail rule of thumb that 20% of a store's customers account for 60% to 80% of its sales.

Not only did customers joining the programs say they were more likely to buy more at stores where they signed up, but 16% of those surveyed said they shopped exclusively at those stores.

Frequency programs have been slow to be adopted by retailers, especially non-supermarket retailers, with only about 75 nationwide adopting programs, the retail group said.


The survey's results were unveiled at the retail group's annual conference last week, at which Edward P. Carroll, Jr. exec VP-sales promotion and marketing, Carson Pirie Scott & Co., was inducted into the Retail Advertising & Marketing Association International Hall of Fame.

Carson Pirie Scott also was honored by the Television Bureau of Advertising for local TV advertising; Radio Shack won the Newspaper Association of America's retail partnership award.

The Heineman Trophy for Best of Show went to Target Stores for its "Expect more, pay less" spring and fall fashion campaigns.

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