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American Express 'Plenti' Program: Engagement as Green Stamps?

Plenti is a new twist on the concept from American Express, but this program has little to do with its credit card product, because you don’t have to carry an American Express card to participate. Enrollment is open to anyone over 13, and can be done within minutes online or with an app. Points can be earned at hundreds of retailers by using your card or Plenti account number at checkout, but for now they can only be redeemed for discounts at Exxon, Macy’s, Mobil and Rite Aid. One of the benefits for participating vendors is Plenti’s “offer” program, which enables consumers to opt-in to receive special offers from those vendors in a process managed by Plenti. While American Express card members can transfer balances to Plenti, they don’t earn Plenti points when they use their card unless they’re enrolled in Plenti and using it at one of its participating retailers. Despite the enormous expertise of American Express, the reams of consumer behavior data driving their decisions, the marketing clout, etc., this will be an interesting experiment. Could this become, in effect, the next trading stamp in terms of consumer ubiquity and engagement? The program clearly faces a few clear hurdles. It’s hard to predict the success of a program without knowing American Express’ underlying objectives. If the company is trying to build a ubiquitous trading stamp-style platform, they potentially are trying to do so not having fully thought out the value-proposition necessary to foster maximum engagement with the program. That said, if the offer program successfully promotes purchases that benefit retailers in a measurable way, American Express may be sitting on a new driver of growth in the face of recent setbacks in its credit card business, most notably the end of Costco’s exclusive use of the American Express card for membership payments. More information at www.plenti.com