The art of storytelling: how loyalty marketers can build emotional connections to their brands

Caroline Papadatos (Air Miles Reward Program, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Publication date: 1 December 2006



The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance of building emotional connections between brands and consumers. Using Canada's Air Miles Reward Program as an example, the paper aims to stress the importance of using customer insight to drive branding decisions and ensure a long‐term emotional attachment to a loyalty program.


The paper thoroughly explains Air Miles' method of reaching out to its customers to glean information that could be used to re‐brand the program. The method, used during focus groups, asked collectors to re‐tell stories that were important in their life. Common themes emerged, which Air Miles incorporated into the re‐branding of their program.


Through specially‐designed focus groups, Air Miles strategists learned that it isn't enough to be a well‐functioning loyalty program. In order to be distinctive in an overcrowded market, Air Miles must provide collectors with an emotionally engaging experience in the redemption process.

Practical implications

If your customers talk about your brand as if it's a part of who they are, you have made an emotional attachment with them. Thus, your program is on the right track.


The paper takes a fresh approach to loyalty markting research as well as analyzing and improving customer loyalty.



Papadatos, C. (2006), "The art of storytelling: how loyalty marketers can build emotional connections to their brands", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 23 No. 7, pp. 382-384.

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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