This article was originally featured by Conversations with TheCustomer and was written by Mike Giambattista. The original post and video of the interview can be found here. Conversations with TheCustomer is an ongoing series of interviews with the people who have lead, and are leading the customer revolution. CX, Loyalty, MarTech, Data & Analytics, Privacy & Ethics, Behavioral Sciences – the full spectrum of disciplines that comprise the customer-development and customer engagement space. 

Look through Jenn McMillen’s dossier and you wonder if she didn’t actually invent modern loyalty marketing: Blockbuster Rewards (remember VHS tapes?), GameStopMichaels and more.  Now she and her team at Incendio advise brands and consultancies on the mechanics of building loyalty and how to see what’s coming over the next hill.


One of the great things about having that kind of history in loyalty is the perspective that comes with it.  In our conversation, she and I talked less about the “how-to” questions and more about the “why-and-why-not” ones.

One note about the Blockbuster Rewards item above – Jenn and her team built that program from scratch.  No platform to plug into, no CDP, no rewards engine and all of the fulfillment & analytics had to be created to spec.  (Pause for a moment to let that settle in.)  That was the first major retail rewards program to be rolled out nationally and it created a blueprint that programs have been following (modified, of course) ever since. Blockbuster Video Membership Card

But our interview turned out not to be about her milestones & CV and instead became a conversation about the things she has learned along the way – sometimes the hard way.  Jenn talks about what she knows now that she wishes she had known then and provides some prescient guidance for marketers who are tasked with building loyalty programs in today’s changing and complex marketplace.

I also couldn’t help but ask who she thinks is doing loyalty well right now and who isn’t – and what she sees as the big, eye-opening opportunities of the moment.