New Rewards Program Hitting Detroit Market

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BOCA RATON, Fla. — A Florida based merchant loyalty program that works through bank or credit union debit or credit cards is entering the Detroit market.

Charge Rewards Co., which does business as Zavee, offers consumers rewards from local merchants simply by using their regular bank cards. And company COO Ron Stack said they chose Detroit as their first major market based on the region’s customer loyalty.

“There are a lot of hardworking people in Detroit who want to support their local merchants, and that’s the kind of market we want to be in,” Stack said. “Whatever the popular impression of Detroit is outside the region, the more we started digging in, the more we realized that … it was a great market. These are people who are seriously loyal to local merchants. That’s the kind of consumer we want.”

Zavee is a merchant-funded program — participating merchants pay a fee to join the program and pay the rewards to the consumer, or to the bank or credit union for the benefit of the consumer.

“Merchants can select from 20 different types of offers, some based on simple things like when the customer’s birthday is, some very sophisticated based on how much you’ve spent over the past six months,” Stack said. “Merchants can choose how much and on what they want to spend to attract more business. The more utilization, the higher the fee, but if the offer doesn’t work at all, they don’t pay anything.”

Stack said that offers advantages to merchants over other forms of marketing.

“Typical marketing is paid for in advance whether or not it works — ads in the Yellow Pages, coupons, ads in the local paper,” Stack said. “Our model means they only pay us for sales that actually take place. It also makes it easy to analyze what’s working and how well it’s working.”

For consumers, the deal couldn’t be easier. They just go to the Web site, http://zavee.com, see which merchants are offering deals, and use their regular debit or credit cards at those merchants.

Stack and two partners, all attorneys, started Zavee in 2009, using Palm Beach and Brouward counties in Florida as test markets. It has a partnership with Dover, N.H.-based Rewards Now, which offers rewards programs to 200 banks and credit unions around the United States, to get its rewards tacked onto bank cards.

When Zavee goes live in Detroit in May, Stack said it will have about 250,000 cardholders in the region, who are customers of about a dozen credit unions in the Detroit area who are Rewards Now clients. “This will just be an upgrade to their existing loyalty program,” Stack said.

Zavee is currently hiring six to 10 sales representatives in the Detroit area to sell the loyalty program to local merchants.

If you’d like a shot at one of those sales positions, or if you’d like to participate in Zavee as either a merchant or a financial institution, contact Stack at ron.stack@zavee.com or (561) 290-0388, ext. 301.

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