Why ‘Choice’ is so Critical to a Successful Loyalty Program:

By Dan Slavin

Choice is one of the foundations of consumerism. Give buyers a choice of colors, you can reach out to a wider audience. Give them a choice of sizes, prices or shipping methods and they are more likely to buy. A recent survey also indicates that giving consumers actual choices in how to engage with a loyalty program can be the difference between a stagnant program and a vibrant one.

The CodeBroker 2018 Shopper Loyalty Survey of 1,287 U.S. consumers provides some interesting and valuable insights into loyalty program users. To fully appreciate the ramifications of the survey it helps to understand that loyalty programs are not a recent phenomenon. They have evolved through generations in the shape of cereal box tops, Green Stamps, cigarette coupons and other programs that have served to build brand loyalty.

Choice has always been a key in loyalty programs. Consumers could choose the type of program to join, how to access program info and how to redeem reward points. Now, with the advent of mobile, consumers should have more choices than ever to access their programs. Many brands, however are not offering this flexibility of choice. Some loyalty programs have stopped advancing and have stalled in their development. The survey suggests most loyalty programs aren’t offering the choices and versatility consumers expect from a modern loyalty program.

The survey shows that consumers have a range of preferences for accessing and engaging with loyalty programs via mobile, including SMS, app, digital wallet, and email. For the broadest reach, loyalty programs must allow consumers to access their rewards program details, rewards certificates and offers through several mobile channels to meet their expectations for ease of use. The consumer wants more convenient choices in interacting with their loyalty programs.

The Numbers

The CodeBroker survey results demonstrate the ramifications of loyalty programs that don’t offer a choice in how to interact with them. Almost two-thirds of respondents engage with less than half of the programs of which they are members and only 18% engage with all the programs of which they are members. Why the resistance to loyalty program use? The survey gives us even more details:

  • 31% were frustrated with losing loyalty points before they could be used
  • 23% didn’t even know when they had rewards available
  • 54% were discouraged that they couldn’t access loyalty program info easily from their mobile device or that the program forced them to download an app

The answer to this lack of involvement with loyalty programs would seem obvious: almost 75% of respondents said they would more actively engage with loyalty programs if they could access their rewards information from their smartphones.

Messaging to Members

It’s obvious to marketers that the goal is to connect and engage loyalty program members, not just acquire them. The survey tells us consumer preference for program communications as well, with 42% saying they prefer email contact and 32% responding that text messaging was their choice. Push notifications were the preferred option for 15% with “other” and social media mentioned for the remaining 11%.

By using these digital vehicles to better engage members, marketers can restore vibrancy to current loyalty programs. By establishing them at the outset, they can set proper expectations and encourage more user interaction.

From collecting box tops to swiping digital rewards cards, loyalty programs have always evolved to maintain their effectiveness. Giving consumers a choice on how they interact with their programs is the next logical progression.

About the CodeBroker Survey

The CodeBroker 2018 Shopper Loyalty Survey was taken by 1,287 U.S. consumers 54% of whom were female and 46% were male. Of the participants, 30% were 18-35 years old, 34% were 35-50 and 36% were 50+. Of the respondents, 60% were members of a retail loyalty program, 54% joined a credit card loyalty program and 52% were hotel loyalty program members. When it came down to the number of loyalty programs respondents were members of, 88% said 1-5, 9% said 6-10 and 3% were members of 11 or more loyalty programs.

Those who are thinking of implementing a loyalty program and those looking to restore vitality to a stagnant program are invited to view the complete CodeBroker 2018 Shopper Loyalty Survey. It is available as a free download.