Hal Brierley photography by Billy Surface

The Art of Customer Loyalty

How Brierley + Partners decided to locate in DFW—and came to dominate its niche.

Hal Brierley is the founder of Plano-based Brierley + Partners. He pioneered the loyalty field in 1980, when he helped design American Airlines’ AAdvantage program.

What does Brierley + Partners do, exactly?

Brierley + Partners has been a loyalty-program design and execution firm for 25 years. We specialize in building and managing databases for large customer-loyalty programs, so that companies can maximize the profits from their customer relationships.

But 10 years ago we launched e-Rewards, during the early stages of the dot-coms, as a sister company. It’s gone from being a struggling dot-com to a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar a year sales company, as the global leader in market- research panels–listening to the consumer.

We have worked with some 175 clients, including Hertz, Hilton, United Airlines, Blockbuster, and Pizza Hut. Today, e-Rewards serves 2,000 market-research firms in 36 countries. We have 6 million individuals who’ve opted in to do customer research. We have about 200,000 people a day who are at the e-Rewards website, ready to do a survey. We’ve become a leader in, “How do you build an electronic-media relationship with consumers?” 

Why did you establish the enterprise in North Texas?

We came here clearly because of the airport and the central location, where we can go out and back to virtually any city in the country, the same day. Texas also is very friendly to business executives. The tax environment is attractive, the labor pool is attractive. This is a great place to hire technology professionals—developers, business analysts, and so on. Increasingly I’m proud to say that Dallas is a culturally exciting city as well.

In 2009 you bought Research Now Ltd. of London for a reported $140 million. What’s been the impact of that deal?

e-Rewards had sales of about $100 million in 2009, and then we acquired our European competitor, which had sales of about $85 million. So together we were about a $185 million company. In 2010 we’ll do $250 million.

Why do you think you’ve experienced such healthy growth in a tough economy?

I’m convinced we’re going to see an increasing portion of marketing budgets spent on listening to the consumer—consumer insight. The relative portion of the marketing budget spent on research today is quite small. But if you can literally feel the pulse of a consumer anywhere in the world instantly, it really changes how much you’d want to spend asking customers what they want and think, as opposed to just promoting.

Have you rolled out anything new lately on the technology front?

We recently introduced B+P’s LoyaltyWare 4.0, providing our clients with a fully integrated CPM and loyalty program capability, managing data from a variety of independent databases. We think this integrated approach will become the new standard in the retail industry.

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