Bill Hanifin

CEO, Hanifin Loyalty LLC

Bill Hanifin brings over 25 years experience encompassing customer centric marketing, payment systems, and corporate banking to benefit the clients he serves. Bill has concentrated on developing and implementing Customer Strategies designed to address a range of business objectives from account acquisition and sales performance to improved customer retention and increased share of wallet and brand preference.

Bill has worked with companies in the airline, banking, hotel, retail, telecom, and business services sectors providing a range of services including Strategic Marketing Plans, Project Management, Financial Measurement, and Operational Solutions. A partial Client list includes American Express, BBVA Bancomer, Banco BHD, FirstCaribbean Int’l Bank, Grupo Posadas (largest hotel chain in Mexico), JM Associates Federal Credit Union, LaQuinta Inns, Scotiabank, Visa, and

Bill is a Founding Member of the Customer Strategy Network, a global network of independent relationship and loyalty marketing practitioners. He authors Loyalty Truth, a blog covering all aspects of Customer Centric marketing, and serves as North American Contributing Editor for The Wise Marketer, a global publication covering the loyalty marketing industry.

Bill is an accomplished speaker and trainer and is a requested presenter at industry trade conferences sponsored by Airline Information, SourceMedia, the Direct Marketing Association, Visa, Loyalty 360, and the Institute for International Research. He has led public and privately organized workshops in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, EU, and Asia Pacific regions.

Bill is a prolific writer on the subjects of Millennial, Loyalty, and Relationship marketing. In addition to his blog Loyalty Truth, his articles and quotes have been published in American Banker, Colloquy, Cards & Payments, Card Technology,, DM News, Fox, Smart Money, and

  • Posted on: 05/12/2017

    What makes consumers so loyal to Publix, Wegmans, Trader Joe’s and H-E-B?

    The beauty of the question posed here for discussion is that it highlights the opportunity for each brand to carve out its own niche. While each of the grocers might have all of the attributes on their "list," they clearly each prioritize and weight efforts to align with their own brand promise.If you contrast the shopping experience and types of grocery customers attracted by Costco, Walmart, Trader Joe's and Publix, you would end up with different elements from the list at the top. The answer then, as my UK friends like to say, is "horses for courses."
  • Posted on: 05/12/2017

    Do customer reviews suffer from a herd mentality?

    The tribe of digitally connected consumers regularly uses reviews as part of their decision-making process for purchase. I hazard the guess that most members of this tribe consume reviews with a "buyer beware" attitude.I endorse light curation of reviews by retailers in order to monitor extreme opinions that are not helpful to any consumer, or those that are identified as having been planted with a purpose.Beyond that, let reviews stand as they are. The online experience has matured to the point where consumers are capable of exercising discernment in their interpretation of the message.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2017

    Should more brands offer rewards linked to store purchases?

    This is a contentious discussion due to one fact -- this is a difficult challenge to solve. As I mentioned in a reply to Gene, I am hesitant to dismiss too readily the range of attempts to connect end-consumer with manufacturer, at least until a clear long term solution is in the market.Full integration of a grocery loyalty program to CPG's is probably the best path, but there are complex technical and business issues to solve. As you know, some grocers resist the loyalty play, so the vehicle that could connect parties is not available.We'll all keep working on this challenge and the one who solves it with technical ease and in a way to deliver a great customer experience for the customer will be a big winner.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2017

    Should more brands offer rewards linked to store purchases?

    Gene, while I understand the sentiment, I don't dismiss the range of attempts to connect end-consumer with manufacturer. The reason there is not a universal, elegant solution is that it is an extremely difficult nut to crack. Code-on-pack was the limit of most people's thinking and receipt capture and validation is a build on the previous generation. Full integration of a grocery loyalty program to CPGs is possible, but there are complex technical and business issues to solve. As you know, some grocers resist the loyalty play, so the vehicle that could connect parties is not available. We'll all keep working on this challenge and the one who solves it with technical ease and in a way to deliver a great customer experience for the customer will be a big winner.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2017

    Do consumers want experiential rewards?

    Experiential rewards are effective for brands to offer ways for customers to connect with the brand on a deeper level. The examples shared in the article show how imagination can be applied to make that deep connection through varied means.It's important however to make sure that we understand the distinctions between the earning and redemption opportunities mentioned in the article as well as to clarify the findings in the Cap Gemini report.The Cap Gemini report, as I understood it, made the point that most loyalty program members wanted to have the opportunity to "earn" in a loyalty program beyond transactions. There was a list of non-purchase behaviors listed in the report which included posting on social streams, uploading content and similar social network behaviors that promoted the brand. The report seemed to focus more about the "earn" side of the equation rather than experiential rewards.The photo shoot example in this article illustrates a fantastic way to provide a valued customer a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I'm not sure how Kayla qualified for the photo shoot, i.e., did she win it in an auction or another method?Auctions are effective not only to provide unique experiences to program members, but because they can burn program liability and be a financial winner.Overall it seems that experiential rewards are moving on from "balloon rides" to deliver a more personalized experience that recognizes the member and provides a lasting memory they can associate with the brand.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2017

    Will retailers get cut out by consumers in the future economy?

    Technology will clearly enable more direct-to-consumer transactions and products considered commodities and marketed on a price basis may be most highly impacted by the ability to purchase directly from the manufacturer.Razors are a great example:
    • The club method to purchase quality razors at a lower price with convenient home delivery serves the needs of many consumers
    • Gillette launched its "On Demand" razor club, probably in response to the Dollar Shave Club and similar generic razor clubs
    • Neither of these models helps large pharmacy or grocery chains selling razors but does preserve the brand equity of razors offered by Gillette.
    Other categories of retail can incorporate technology trends to their own advantage. Retailers marketing luxury, specialty, and other items benefitting from a higher touch experience can use their stores as showrooms for their products while offering consumers the ability to purchase closer to the "source".
  • Posted on: 05/05/2017

    Should one rough quarter have Publix’s management concerned?

    As a resident in Publix's home market, I see their fortunes through a unique lens. Anecdotal evidence suggests that while most customers consider Publix a "feel good" brand, an increasing percentage view Publix as having generally above-market prices. For price-sensitive shoppers, this is obviously a strong influencer of purchase.While Publix does offer BOGO deals on a consistent basis, most people don't know what product is available via BOGO until they enter the store for a shopping visit. For loyalists, this encourages basket splitting as some customers cherry-pick BOGO offers and visit a competitor to complete their shopping list. For the most price-sensitive shoppers, they may skip a visit altogether.Despite cries that Publix is "expensive," it continues to wear a shiny halo that identifies it as a nostalgic Florida brand. The recipe for future success may be for Publix to address competitive concerns now and make changes before the power of their brand halo weakens.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2017

    How can companies avoid the seven deadly sins of retail laggards?

    There are clearly some well-embedded mindsets that need to change. It is safe to say that similar mindsets can be identified for criticism in grocery, banking, and CPG. I would not be as harshly critical of leadership as there are outside influences (board members, investors, stock analysts) that should share the blame for their contributions to perpetuating broken mindsets.If the ultimate impact of evolution in the brick and mortar retail industry is the contraction of their physical presence, I wonder what the commercial real estate industry should expect in the next 5 years?
  • Posted on: 05/05/2017

    What is holding back marketers’ personalization efforts?

    The promise of using collected data to serve up personalized promotions and offers has been on the table for many years. In the name of being more "relevant" with customers, marketers have too often relied on machine methods that only partially hit the mark, leaving the promise unfulfilled.Using retargeting methods to serve up offers online, and geo-targeting to ping consumers in the vicinity of brick and mortar locations demonstrates to consumers they are being tracked. Unfortunately, these methods also communicate that tracking is imprecise and therefore insincere.Marketers would be well served to ask consumers directly about their preferences and interests. The qualitative data collected would illustrate a more clear understanding of customers by the brands that chase them and serve up offers that will map more closely to their stated interests.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2017

    Will chatbots drive a ‘conversational commerce’ trend?

    "It depends" has to be the most maddening response to questions such as this one, but when you frame the answer in terms of the impossibly broad spectrum of consumer profiles that brands are trying to serve, it is the only answer that can be offered.Chatbots enabling purchase transactions in FB Messenger or similar SMS channels can be time-saving for people buying products that they purchase frequently and are already familiar with. There is a reason that early examples illustrated are in QSR or grocery/pharmacy verticals. People know the menu for their favorite QSR chain and are familiar with certain products that they might buy on a regular basis from grocery or pharmacy outlets.For retailers with complex catalogs offering lots of SKUs, the website is still a very effective way to conduct business. A mobile app front end can be effective for those brands who not only have the magnetic power to justify download and usage, but also seed app usage with additional offers and benefits.Here's an idea: retailers of any type can use chatbots in Messenger as an added value service to make life easier and stimulate repeat purchase among their regular (higher value) customers. Example: a provider of nutritional supplements carries many SKUs, and it is likely that many customers have done their research and return often to repurchase the same item. Why not be proactive in offering these customers the ability to repurchase easily via Messenger?
  • Posted on: 04/27/2017

    What can TripAdvisor bring to retail?

    TripAdvisor is wise to extend its brand into the physical world and maybe can create brand awareness on a new level with consumers. Presently thought of as a travel sourcing site online, TripAdvisor could be seen as a local source of information and knowledge if these kiosks are successful.One thing that worries me about the core model at TripAdvisor is the string of emails I receive informing me that I'm in the "top 10% of all reviewers." Knowing my level of activity with the service, the message leaves me thinking that engagement on their site must be lower than I had perceived.A key part of any business expansion or brand extension strategy is to make sure the core is solid. TripAdvisor may be well "advised" to shore up its communications online as they encourage higher engagement.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2017

    Can parking lots save the mall?

    Entertainment and dining events external to the mall itself will generate more traffic and surely stimulate impromptu visits by consumers passing by the mall property.Some restaurant tenants in the mall may have competitive concerns, but if the mall property managers are thoughtful about selecting vendors for the outside events, all activities can be viewed as complementary, not competitive.Some successful malls have an existing parking problem, i.e. the space available on a given day may be very limited to stage an outside event. Maybe there is self-selection at work. If parking is widely available, it may be an indicator of slow traffic and sections of the parking lot can be identified for these "fun" events.Organizing events in a series or linking them together under a specific theme, may generate repeat visits from interested consumers.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2017

    Will omnichannel make the J.C. Penney and Sephora partnership more successful?

    The idea of co-locating brands and developing "store-in-store" concepts has gone through at least 2 cycles of expansion and contraction. With renewed pressure on brick and mortar retailers to maximize sales dollars from the precious real estate they occupy, partnerships like the one illustrated here hold tremendous promise.I've been reading several articles lately suggesting that a "retail apocalypse" is around the corner. The threats are real, but the outcome is not inevitable. Complimentary partnerships can draw people into a brick and mortar store and provide the opportunity to consolidate shopping trips for multiple products into a more convenient "one-stop" shop.The marketing of these partnerships and the products they promote should be enabled in multiple marketing channels. In addition to the online order/offline pickup model, J.C. Penney could think about promoting Sephora on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to test for potential new customer engagement.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2017

    What customer service lessons can be learned from United Airlines?

    So much has been said about this incident that I want to take a different perspective. The airlines should not be compared to "retail" or any other vertical market when assessing customer service issues.Why? Because in our post 9-11 world, airline travel has become a quasi-militarized business. Governmental oversight to manage potential terrorist activity has given more power than is customary in dealing with its customers.In the past, an inebriated traveler may run the risk of being asked to deplane should they be rude to the cabin crew. Today, the flight crews seem to be swelled up with their sense of control over their passengers. Buying a seat means nothing to the airlines relative to our behavior on board. I would go so far as to say that travelers are "flying scared," meaning they can be deplaned and then added surreptitiously to a TSA black list.The changes needed in the airline industry are more fundamental and systemic than encountered by most retailers.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    How will Walmart’s price cutting affect Kroger and other rivals?

    The admired and celebrated business model of leveraging the supply chain to lower costs and deliver value to customers is core to Walmart's success. That said, there can only be a very limited number of players per category who can successfully play this game.Walmart can continue to lower prices and presumably much of this will be accomplished at the expense of suppliers. This business model has limitations in the long run as suppliers increasingly become begrudged captives to the big retailer while they struggle to return acceptable financial results to their own stakeholders.Kroger is wise to be "doubling down on the customer experience." That is a place where Kroger can carve out a clear advantage, as Walmart struggles to make its store a "great place to shop." Cheap, yes -- great experience, well.Price competition usually ends badly for all but the category leader. The rest of the grocery market is wise to pursue alternate avenues to garner the attention of consumers.

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