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Toyota races into growing mobile loyalty opportunity for automakers

While some automakers have taken an experiential approach to mobile, Toyota?s new partnership with Alliance Data suggests there may be a growing opportunity to leverage mobile to integrate loyalty, offers and cars? diagnostic systems. 

Toyota has teamed up with Alliance Data, a leader in private label and co-brand credit cards, to build mobile credit applications for the Toyota and Lexus brands and offer a brand-centric integrated rewards and account management experience, including direct rewards redemption.  Engaging and supporting dealerships will play a key role in the partnership, including through direct rewards redemption and a customized dealer portal featuring access to dealer performance data, marketing materials, training tools and other support materials.  

?At launch, our mobile app functionality will focus on customer engagement,? said Andy Meloy, national card manager at Toyota Financial Savings Bank. ?This entails providing offers from the Toyota and Lexus brands, and giving customers visibility into account level data, including account and reward balance information.  

?Next year, we intend to launch Apple Pay for the program through the mobile app,? he said. 

?Consumers are expecting more and more functionality to be delivered through their mobile devices.  Toyota and Lexus are dedicated to delivering Always Better Service to our customers and incorporating mobile functionality into our credit card loyalty programs is an integral way to meet their expectations.?

Incremental dealership revenue
Toyota is partnering with Alliance Data to launch new private label credit cards for the Toyota and Lexus brands as well as to manage and grow its existing co-brand credit card program, which Alliance Data is acquiring. 

As part of the broader deal, the Toyota?s card programs will leverage a custom in-dealership redemption platform developed by Alliance Data and supported by its mobile capabilities. 

Alliance Data?s Epsilon division will also provide analytics and consulting. 

The news comes as Alliance Data, which has deep roots in the retail industry, expands its tools, loyalty and marketing offerings for the automotive industry. 

The goal of the program is to develop Toyota?s credit offerings into loyalty tools as a way to drive incremental revenue to dealerships. 

Mobile car shopping
The new private label credit cards as well as the existing co-brand cards will focus on driving brand loyalty by rewarding cardholders for every purchase, with additional points earned for Toyota or Lexus brand purchases, such as vehicle services and parts. Earned points will be redeemable for Toyota and Lexus service, parts or accessories as well as being good towards the next purchase of one a vehicle. 

Epsilon, which has provided CRM services to Toyota and its dealer network since 2009, will also begin delivering personalized permission-based marketing messages, including email and direct mail, to current Toyota vehicle owners. 

Mobile is playing a bigger role in how consumers research and purchase vehicles as well as maintain them. 

A recent study from J.D. Power found that 51 percent of new-vehicle Internet shoppers use a mobile device to help them find the right vehicle and the right dealer. 

?Mobile usage continues to increase in the shopping process ? over half of new vehicle buyers that use digital information in their shopping process are now using multiple devices, including a mobile device,? said Arianne A. Walker, senior director of  automotive media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power. ?We?ve seen smartphone usage increase 70 percent since 2012.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York