Schulich seminar tomorrow looks at consumer branding and loyalty programs

Consumer loyalty programs give the appearance of choice, but some would argue what they really do is direct consumers down pre-set paths of consumption.

Teaching Fellow and PhD candidate Jason Pridmore of the Department of Sociology, Queen’s University, will explore that topic tomorrow in the next seminar of the New Research in Consumer Culture Series offered by the Schulich School of Business.

Pridmore’s presentation, "Reciprocal Branding: The Mutual Shaping of Loyalty Programs and the Loyal Consumer through Commercial Sociology", will look at the interactive nature of loyalty programs and whether they connect consumers with certain forms and expectations of consumption. It is Pridmore’s assumption they do.

Left: Jason Pridmore

Tracking the flow of personal data collected through loyalty card use to see how it is retrieved, stored and used by multi-national corporations, is a particular interest of his. He is currently working on interviewing corporate representatives to evaluate that process.

In the presentation, Pridmore will argue that the competitive differentiation of loyalty programs not only reflect the social position or branding of the program, but demonstrate how consumers are also branded. Class, geodemographics, education and lifestyle are just some of the issues that are replicated in consumer behavior and reinforced in marketing models as a result.

Pridmore says this information then becomes embedded in corporate branding practices.

"I suggest that loyalty programs are best understood as a form of commercial sociology, a means by which corporate profitability is secured through the use of sociological methods for uncovering the social significance inherent in consumption patterns," Pridmore says. "This commercial sociology assists corporations in simultaneously mapping the consumption trajectories of consumers against anticipated trajectories of consumer behaviour and is the means by which marketing practices and brand positions are modified."

The lecture will take place tomorrow, Nov. 23, from 10:30am to noon in room W357 in the Seymour Schulich Building.

For more information about this free seminar series, e-mail Detlev Zwick, professor of marketing, at