As anyone who has recently filled up their gas tank or purchased groceries will tell you, the cost of living just keeps going up.
Consumer reactions to this vary greatly. Some people will shop sales while others will buy in bulk. The common goal, however, is to get the best value for every dollar spent.
Meanwhile, brands are struggling to keep locations staffed and goods available. In other words, stores can't simply lower prices to appeal to budget-conscious customers. But loyalty programs can add that extra value to every transaction – for both consumers and brands.
The Popularity of Loyalty Programs
Customers love loyalty programs. A survey conducted by Intouch Insight showed that 94% of people polled were members of at least one loyalty program, and popularity of these programs was highest with grocery stores followed by restaurants and fast food chains.
On the flip side, the main reason consumers are not part of a loyalty program is that they feel it takes too long to earn enough points for a reward. This could explain the popularity of loyalty programs at grocery stores. The average consumer spends twice as much on groceries compared to prepared food and they often shop at the same grocery store out of convenience. This makes it easier to build up points quickly.
But in industries where consumers are less likely to be a loyal program member, this is an opportunity.
Benefits of Loyalty Programs
Although loyalty programs are not the primary driver for brand loyalty, they can still make a difference. Our research has show that quality of items, positive customer experiences, cost of items, and superior customer service were ranked higher by consumers for drivers of loyalty. But, we found that 76% of consumers said they would choose to shop with a brand that has a loyalty program over one without.
Loyalty programs are also a great way to influence what customers buy. When asked, 82% of those polled said they would buy an item worth more loyalty points over another similar item.
Loyalty programs are also a great way to collect information on personal preferences and shopping habits. This means they can easily send personalized offers to your customers and communicate with them on a 1:1 basis, reinforcing that their loyalty is valued.
Making the Most of Loyalty Programs
To get the best return from a loyalty program, brands obviously need their customers to use it. This means offering the right rewards and making sure customers know about them. When asked generally what type of rewards they prefer, consumers favored a dollar amount discount. But brands can easily narrow down more specific rewards using targeted surveys of their customers to make sure their program offers what their customers really value.
However, even the best rewards are only as good as the promotion around them. We sent mystery shoppers to over 600 convenience stores across North America and found the cashiers only mentioned a loyalty program 28% of the time. Quick transactions are a priority for convenience stores, but there were also only signs promoting the loyalty program at 72% of the locations. By training staff to talk about loyalty programs and keeping promotional signs visible with daily checklists, brands can increase their loyalty program membership.
As consumers continue trying to maximize the value of every dollar spent, loyalty programs can drive them to one brand over another. By better promoting their loyalty programs and offering rewards their customers will want, brands can make themselves the go-to store for consumers in 2023.