Consumers find some uses of personal information for loyalty programs to be “cool and exciting” (such as personalized discounts based on purchasing habits), but others exceed privacy boundaries and are simply “creepy and weird,” according to [download page] a Maritz Loyalty Marketing study. The most invasive practice, cited by 52% of the study’s respondents, is allowing programs to review their Facebook friends’ status updates and photos to determine if they are eligible for rewards or special benefits based on shared interests.
Other “creepy and weird” loyalty program practices include:
- “Offer rewards or special benefits to those who provide the program with access to personal information about you” (44%);
- “Provide your credit card number to a retailer via its website for credit on your statement if you spend a certain amount” (43%);
- “Allowing programs you ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ to review your status updates and photos to offer rewards or special benefits based on your profile content” (40%); and
- “Ask you for personal information when enrolling to target promotions to your specific demographic” (40%).
In each case, the likelihood of finding the practice to be “creepy and weird” was higher among respondents aged 50 and older, by a range of 8-15% points.
While consumers clearly find some loyalty marketers’ attempts to go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to be creepy, privacy concerns don’t appear to be a huge deterrent from loyalty programs. Instead, fees (68%) and irrelevant benefits (66%) are the primary reasons consumers don’t join loyalty programs, with fewer indicating that they’re turned off by the amount of personal information required by a program (29%) or simply by privacy concerns (24%). Notably, while older respondents were more likely to identify some program uses of information as creepy, the proportion of respondents who cited privacy concerns as a barrier to program participation was similar across all age brackets.
The researchers recommend that loyalty program operators:
- “Ask permission, and be transparent;”
- “Ask again;” and
- “Honor the social contract, not just the legal contract.”
About the Data: The Maritz Loyalty Report surveyed over 6,000 consumers and captured program-level feedback on over 30 national programs across 6 industry sectors: retail loyalty; grocery loyalty; credit card loyalty; co-brand loyalty; travel; and hospitality.