By: Pat Walsh, Chief Business Development Officer, and Vice President of Supply Chain, Food Marketing Institute
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Having a loyal customer base is one sure-fire way to effectively compete in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, but too often loyalty is viewed as a card, program or an initiative. Loyalty is not something you do—loyalty has to be earned, repeatedly and consistently over time.

The best way to earn the loyalty of customers is for retailers to satisfy customer needs better than the competition. After all, if a shopper has all their needs satisfied by a single retailer then why would they choose to shop elsewhere?

Retailers need to take a more holistic approach to loyalty than simply viewing it as the domain of the loyalty team. Retailers need to look at loyalty in 3D, meaning:

  • Loyalty as a strategy – Defining, measuring and allocating resources to earn customer loyalty.
  • Loyalty as an outcome – Understanding and satisfying customer needs and preferences across all elements of a shopper’s path to purchase.
  • Loyalty as a program – Delivering a meaningful value proposition to shoppers while attaching a unique customer identifier to as many transactions as possible.

If retailers take a 3D approach to earning customer loyalty they will maximize their chances of building a loyal customer base that will allow them to compete and thrive on a sustainable basis

Attendees of this year’s Midwinter Executive Conference can join two sessions on loyalty:

  • Rapid Lightening Round- hear insights into recent loyalty research on Saturday, January 27th, 4:00 – 6:00 in the Keynote session
  • Next-Generation Loyalty: Get it Right in Food Retailing - a round-table discussion on how loyalty means different things to different generations on Sunday, January 28th at 1:30 p.m.

Learn more in the agenda and at www.FMI.org/Midwinter


  • Industry Relations
  • Total Store Collaboration
  • Supply Chain
  • Retail Operations
  • Loyalty Programs
  • Education