7 in 10 US loyalty program members agree that they modify when and where they make purchases in order to maximize the benefits they receive, and 64% modify the brands they purchase in order to maximize their benefits, according to a recent report [download page] from Bond Brand Loyalty. Those figures are up from 64% and 55%, respectively, in last year’s report, in tandem with a growing sense of satisfaction from members.
In all, 43% this year report being very satisfied with the program experience, up from 39% last year. Enrollment is also up, from an average of 10.9 cards per respondent in 2014 to 13.3 this year. But, increasing satisfaction rates and enrollment numbers aren’t equating to engagement, as the average respondent is active in fewer loyalty programs this year (6.7) than last (7.8). (Activity is defined as having made a purchase.)
The report’s authors suggest that “consumers are reaching a program engagement saturation point,” noting also that only 49% of respondents agree that they spend more after having joined a loyalty program.
In identifying the top drivers of program satisfaction, the study points to the appeal of rewards, the ease with which they can be redeemed, and the amount accumulated per dollar spent as the top functional drivers. Yet experiential drivers should not be ignored, and the analysts argue that these should provide a better path for marketers who want to cut their reliance on monetary incentives. Top drivers of a customer’s loyalty program experience include: the program being worth the effort of participating; the program meeting the customer’s needs; and the program being enjoyable.
Experiential attributes can influence a consumer’s overall satisfaction with a brand. In analyzing the elements of overall brand satisfaction, Bond Brand Loyalty found that consumers valued the brand meeting their needs (an experiential attribute) as the second-most influential driver of overall brand satisfaction, behind only the quality of the product and service. Enjoyable experiences with the brand (another experiential attribute) ranked alongside the loyalty/rewards program and value for money in being more important than overall price and customer service experience.
(Interestingly, CMOs surveyed for a recent study believed that customer service was becoming a more important priority for their customers than quality, with each more important than price. A separate consumer survey released last year found consumers defining brand loyalty as the act of shopping on the basis of quality rather than price.)
Returning to the Bond Brand Loyalty study, Amazon Prime was the top-rated loyalty program in the mid-frequency retail category (with 71% of members reporting overall program satisfaction), while Kroger Fuel topped the list in the high-frequency retail category (at 70% program satisfaction). These were 2 of the top 3 programs in terms of the percentage of respondents strongly agreeing that “the program meets my needs.”
Finally, while almost half of program members surveyed agreed that they would like to engage with loyalty programs through their mobile device, just 12% of customers have downloaded a program application (albeit up from 5% last year). While that’s a fairly low figure, those who downloaded a program app reported higher degrees of satisfaction with the program than those who had not. Among those whose loyalty programs don’t yet have an app, the top features of interest are:
- Manage account preferences (54%);
- Digital membership card (54%); and
- Redeem for rewards (50%).
Still, the study cautions that features are not as important as how the app serves the customers’ needs: while only a minority of those using a mobile loyalty app strongly agree that it meeds their needs, this subgroup is 10 times more likely to report being brand-loyal than those who don’t feel the app meets their needs.
About the Data: The 2015 Loyalty report study was conducted in January of 2015. A sample of 11,316 North American consumers, over 1,700 of whom have household incomes greater than $70,000, participated in the study through an online survey.