Affinity programs are promotions for groups of people with common interests, and the variety of these programs is only limited by the creativity of the program developers. Offerings usually include discounts on a range of products and services. Organizations that offer affinity programs to their members should ensure that the benefits to their members outweigh the costs of administering the programs. Companies that want to promote their businesses through these programs should partner with organizations whose members would be interested.
Certain types of affinity programs have proven to be popular over time. Credit card programs are particularly popular. The cards may be branded with a member organization’s logo, which helps promote the organization. Reduced interest, cash back on purchases, or other benefits might also be part of the credit card program.
Affinity insurance programs involve marketing insurance to members of business clubs or trade organizations, and are also very popular. Some types of groups that may appreciate this are small businesses and independent contractors. For example, a freelance graphic designers' trade organization may find its members appreciate an opportunity to purchase health insurance at more favorable rates than they could find on their own.
Other popular types of affinity programs include discounted mobile phone services. For members of a small business association, programs for discounts on office supplies and shipping can be popular as well. Discounts for restaurants can benefit members of many organizations. Car rental and hotel discounts are often appreciated by anyone who travels.
Some affinity programs encourage members to improve their skills or health, and in turn this benefits the organization that offers the program. Member discounts for computer hardware and software can encourage employees to develop and maintain technical skills. Organizations that would like to promote healthy lifestyles may offer discounts to fitness facilities.
Those organizations that are planning to add programs for their members must evaluate the benefit to their members and to the organization. Programs will have administrative costs, and the benefits should outweigh these. Some of the costs may be offset by fees paid by the affinity program marketer.
Companies that are interested in adding affinity marketing programs to promote their products or services should research the promotions that best fit their goals. Members of the group should think of the program as an asset to membership. When the match between members needs and the product or service is good, the program should result in good sales.
Affinity programs are occasionally confused with loyalty programs, but these are not the same. Loyalty programs frequently use promotions, such as frequent buyer cards. Unlike affinity programs, any consumer and not just those who are members of specific groups may receive a free or discounted purchase after buying a certain amount of product or service.