Experience using a loyalty program a bigger driver than rewards

The latest report from Bond Brand Loyalty shows what keeps members engaged.

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Keeping consumers active in a loyalty program might be less about the rewards they get and more about their experience participating, according to Bond Brand Loyalty’s The Loyalty Report 2019.

Through a survey of 11,000 Canadians, Bond got feedback for its annual survey on 175 different loyalty programs.

On average, Canadians are members of 12.9 loyalty programs – that’s up slightly from 12.3 in last year’s survey, but they are only “active” participants in an average of 7.6 of those programs.

The top five drivers of engagement with loyalty programs are, in order, a consumer’s enjoyment in participating, if the program meets their needs, if the program makes their experience with a brand better, appealing rewards and if the program is consistent with brand expectations. The answers were spread fairly evenly between ten different factors (ease and enjoyment of participating was cited by 14% of respondents, with 6% citing communications received through the program, the lowest-scoring factor); however, 76% cited factors related to the experience of participating in the program, with 25% citing factors related to earning and using their points.

Only 11% of respondents reported being “very satisfied” by the level of personalization in their loyalty programs. Despite privacy concerns about data collection in other sectors, such as social media, 80% of respondents said that, when it comes to loyalty programs, they would like to have more of their data collected to improve personalization. That sentiment is highest among younger demographics, with 83% of Gen Z, 81% of younger millennials and 80% of older millennials agreeing.

While most Canadians are aware of the data that is collected from them by participating in a loyalty program, very few of them are actually seeing the results of that data in action. Respondents said their loyalty programs were only using half of the information they collect, from their name and location to income, age and product preferences.

Only 16% of respondents were satisfied with the appeal of the awards available through their loyalty programs, down from 17% last year and 18% the year before that. Bond suggests, however, the new mechanics for redeeming points have the potential to get the appeal up, especially among younger demographics. According to the survey, 60% of respondents would see appeal in a pre-selected reward after accumulating a certain number of points, with 58% interested in using points towards an upcoming purchase and 42% in using points towards a recurring purchases.

Bond also uses the results of the survey to rank the top loyalty programs across several categories based on member engagement, the results of which can be found below. One potentially surprising result is the fact that the PC Optimum program – created by merging the Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus programs, which ranked first and second in last year’s study, respectively – came in third in the grocery and pharmacy category, behind Co-Op’s Me-wards and Metro’s Metro&Moi.

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