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Personalized Loyalty Card Power

Once considered a marketing channel that was dying in all but the most backward markets, the use of personalized plastic cards as sales tools has actually rebounded in the past several years. In fact, in a recent survey over 60% of U.S. households said that loyalty programs featuring personalized plastic cards were important in their shopping decisions.

Why Personalized Loyalty Cards Work*

In the end, it's simple psychology. A tangible plastic card customized with his or her name helps the consumer feel like he or she is getting more real value from every purchase. It’s very similar to the idea of getting 1% cash back on a credit card purchase. There’s a small cost to the business, but it is one that is easily managed. In return, many customers wind up spending more than intended just so they can experience the reward from their loyalty program.


  • Customer spending is 46% higher with companies that offer loyalty card programs.

  • Nearly 30% of customers state that they are “extremely likely” to increase the amount of visits to a business if there is a loyalty program involved.

  • With personalized loyalty cards, a first-time customer has a 3 in 10 chance of becoming a long-term profitable customer.

  • Two-thirds of people who purchase three times at a business with a loyalty card program within a 30 day period will become profitable customers of that business.

LOYALTY CARD BENEFITS Personalized loyalty cards can change a business around very quickly. The problem that so many businesses face is that their marketing efforts are driven to attracting new customers. It isn’t the first-time customer that is going to create profitability for a business. It’s the repetitive customers that keep coming back for the supplies that they need. This is why loyalty programs can create such a positive impact on a budget’s bottom line. People are encouraged to visit more and spend more because they’ll receive a tangible reward in doing so. For the consumer, the rewards are more than just financially based. The physical joy of taking advantage of a loyalty reward helps to spur on more purchases as well.

*Brandon Gaille, Marketing Expert

All of this is, of course, good news for 1•2•1 MSG. We have been in the business of personalizing and encoding plastic cards since our inception in 2000, so we know a thing or two about how efficient, successful loyalty card programs work. If you have an immediate interest, we’d love to talk details with you, but assuming you’re in research mode, we thought it would be helpful if we supplied some basic information about personalized plastic loyalty cards and the different processes we use to produce them.

Our Plastic Card Personalization Processes

At 1•2•1 MSG, we support three types of plastic card personalization: Embossing, Thermal Imaging, and DoD (Drop on Demand). As you might expect, each of these different processes has advantages and limitations. For example, durable embossed cards are relatively expensive, while less substanital DoD cards are less expensive and quicker to produce. As you read through the summaries of each method below, keep in mind that there is some overlap between the processes. Depending on your project, a shift in process may save you significant time and/or money.


Embossing is probably the most common way plastic cards are personalized. Personalized text is stamped into the surface of the card, creating palpable, raised letters. After stamping, the tops of the raised letters are coated with foil so the text stands away from the card’s background. Though it is considered old technology, embossing is hard to fake or alter, making it a useful deterrent to forgery. Embossing also creates visually appealing cards with high perceived value, making it the perfect process for loyalty program and membership club cards.

See detailed specs for embossed cards

Thermal Imaging

For plastic card projects that need more personalization flexibility, thermal imaging is often the answer. Personalized text is bonded with the card using a heat transfer process. Once the transfer is complete, personalization becomes one with card’s surface, yielding cards that are virtually immune to wear. Though significantly slower than both embossing and DoD processes, thermal imaging also allows the greatest range of creative freedom. Personalization may be in any font desired in any of six colors; and, except for a small clear space needed at card’s edges, text may be placed anywhere on the card. Some of our clients use this process for their high-end loyalty program “designer” cards, but it’s ability to accommodate eye-catching designs makes it equally good when used for promotional and gift cards.

See detail specs for thermal imaged cards

DoD (Drop on Demand)

DoD plastic card production is speedy, accurate and surprisingly versatile, making it a great option for almost any project. “DoD” stands for Drop on Demand, which is a short way of describing the process’s amazingly fast and precise placement of tiny inkject droplets. After being placed on the card, inkjetted personalization is instantly cured with a UV light, delivering finished, high-resolution (up to 720dpi), mailstream-ready cards in seconds. Our system can accommodate a wide range of substrates including everything from PVC to paper; and, unlike embossing and thermal imaging processes, non-standard card sizes are no problem. For example, one client had us personalize a combination piece that ganged up a membership card and two luggage tags. The DoD process worked flawlessly, creating an economic card that was unique and engaging.

See detailed specs for DoD cards

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