Marriage Loyalty Program uTango Closes Down

February 5, 2009 · 0 comments

A couple of years ago, I heard about a rewards program called uTango which was targeting newly married couples. The basic concept was, married couples sign up, shop through the site, and their earnings go toward a savings plan they can only access if they stay married. I think. I didn’t review it for CompareRewards because I found it way too convoluted — this great article on from December (page down and see the right sidebar) agreed with me and provided many specifics. “You don’t have to be a skeptic to question this program,” said author Jeff Beneke.
He definitely called it right: I read today that uTango decided to call it quits, citing the “dismal economic climate.” (Read the announcement on Of course it was the economy, and not a poor business model. ;)
Here‘s how the site looked at its launch in December 2006. Here’s an early story on the company, from January 2007, and another, from February 2008. They launched their own co-branded credit card last March. This article, a few weeks ago, says uTango was sued by its PR company for being A YEAR BEHIND in paying them $10,000 owed for their services.
Hate to see any rewards program shut down. This program’s downfall (aside from being too niche-oriented, appealing primarily to newlyweds) was, IMHO, a poor understanding of what drives consumer behavior. People want more attainable rewards. Not only is it a matter of not wanting to wait 30 years to get your reward (even a great one like $1 million), but it’s also a clearly justifiable concern that the rewards program won’t be around that long.
We’re going to see more shopping-only rewards programs going belly-up in the next year or two due to the economy, even those programs offering more attainable rewards. Rewards programs in it for the long haul should be looking for ways to allow members to earn without having to shop. There are some programs doing this right now, paying for survey completions, watching videos, visiting websites, etc. Looking out for your members by seeking out these money-earning, non-spending opportunities, will be rewarded by the loyalty of those members with shopping commissions again when the economy bounces back.

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