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More cities have been reported adopting small business loyalty programs to promote local establishments. Recently, another town in California has introduced their own customer loyalty initiatives, partnering with local restaurants to reward their citizens for local purchases. Let’s dive in and see how these cities and towns are implementing these loyalty tactics, and how they affect the overall relationship between citizen and state.

How the Public Sector is Embracing Loyalty

A few blog posts back, we mentioned how Maldives had become the first country to establish their very own loyalty program. Months later, a town in the UK adopted an app called Mi Rewards, which makes use of the points-per-£1 mechanic, and entitles the citizens of Gloucester, England to win prizes during the end-of-the-month raffle draw.

But this isn’t the only time that local government units have leveraged customer loyalty initiatives.

In 2012, public schools in Chicago, in partnership with Walgreens, awarded gift cards to parents who attended PTA conferences. 70 select Chicago public schools were part of this initiative, and the lucky participants received Balance Rewards cards worth $25 of free merchandise.

The Société de transport de Montreal in Canada has also piloted their own rewards program. Montreal citizens taking public transportation systems, particularly buses and rapid transit trains, earn points that they can redeem for rewards at some of the city’s local businesses.

Stimulating the Local Economy, the Tehachapi Way

Tehachapi, California has joined the roster of cities with customer loyalty initiatives. The city, home to about 14,000 California citizens, launched their very own Small Business Loyalty Program on the 19th of February. “This is our local economic stimulus program,” said City Manager Greg Garrett to their local news outlet.

Tehachapi citizens who spend at least $100 during the month of March with local service providers and independent retailers will receive $20 gift cards. These will be good and redeemable at select local restaurants and food establishments. Folks only need to visit the City Hall and present their receipts to claim their gift cards.

“Shopping locally is so important for the health of the city and the health of the businesses. It is one of the most important things that people can do,” Garrett told The Tehachapi News. “If it continues to go well, we have authorization to pop more money into it.”

More than Just Small Business Loyalty Programs

These small business loyalty programs are proving that even local government units can put their own spin into customer loyalty initiatives. Often, such efforts have multiple purposes, which can be:

  1. Stimulation for local businesses
  2. Civic pride and strengthening the relationship between citizen and state, and/or;
  3. Encouraging responsible behavior.

Tehachapi’s initiative seems like a very smart strategy: a win-win for citizens, shops and restaurants alike. Larger cities, with right backing and support, could field similar programs at scale, even using only simple loyalty technologies.

However, what remains important is how these small business loyalty programs are going beyond their initial purpose.

Chicago public schools’ partnership with Walgreens doubled as a pro-education campaign that encouraged parents to be more involved in their children’s welfare at school. Société de transport de Montreal’s public transit program highlighted the environmental benefits of taking public transport, especially amongst the latter generations. And Tehachapi’s program promotes the overall economic health of their community, all while encouraging citizens to “try something new.”

These simple and practical small business loyalty programs make one think about how cities and public agencies (libraries, schools, and/or health authorities) can utilize these proven-and-tested loyalty tactics. How about you: what do you envision you can do for your own community?

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