Consent Vital to Loyalty Cards as Lawmakers Ponder Privacy
Card Marketing (09/00) Vol. 4, No. 8 p.21; Martin, Zack

Marketing experts remain high on loyalty card programs as companies strive to gain the trust of consumers and realize that it is best not to double-cross them. For example, Pat LaPointe, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Frequency Marketing in Cincinnati, is very fond of "permission marketing," and adds that companies should not sell customer information. Many industries are currently policing themselves as lawmakers seek to ease the privacy concerns of consumers. The California Grocers Association (CGA) in Sacramento, for instance, has its own privacy guidelines that encourage its 6,000 food stores in the state to, among other things, inform customers that their personal information has been stored for marketing purposes. The CGA is so confident of its guidelines, which even allow customers to have access to their information as a result of a written request, that it welcomes a new state law that prohibits grocers from selling or sharing loyalty card information like names, addresses, and telephone numbers, or sharing their social security or driver's license numbers. However, the backlash against industries misusing consumer information has grown so much that some lawmakers feel compelled to create privacy czars to oversee how companies handle consumer information. American Airlines has one of the largest loyalty card programs but has not had a problem with consumer information. The company has strict guidelines that even allow people to opt out of sharing their personal information.

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