Smiling woman redeeming a consumer loyalty award on her mobile device

Consumer loyalty is in — now more than ever. Businesses love loyal customers … and consumers love loyalty programs. 

Loyalty programs are big business. Whether it’s airline miles, store reward points, or a paid membership, consumers consider them differentiators. With more and more customers relying on e-commerce, we expect to see a continued focus on digital experiences and rewards in the future. 

Over three-quarters of respondents said they are currently enrolled in a loyalty program and actively use it. 

  • Most consumers first enroll in a loyalty program because the enrollment process is easy. Their first impressions of the program matter — and can lead to long-term stickiness if done right. 
  • The majority of respondents stick around in loyalty programs and maintain a lasting relationship with a favorite brand. Of those who said they have left a loyalty program, 25% did so within the first month. 

What are consumers looking for in a loyalty program? 

  • Value 
  • Flexibility 
  • Ease of Use 

We tracked the most popular programs in which consumers are participating or have participated. Of the four programs our respondents were involved in, the vast majority (81%) came from loyalty rewards points programs. 

99% reported the perks or rewards offered are valuable to some degree — a 29% increase from last year. 

95% of loyalty program participants say promotions or perks influence what they purchase to some degree (versus just 70% in 2020).

Top reasons for leaving a loyalty program 

The most common reason a respondent left a loyalty program was they didn’t buy from the brand frequently enough. However, there were many reasons they left programs, all of which held nearly equal weight, applying to nearly one-third of respondents.

  • Not enough opportunities to earn rewards 
  • Rewards were not worth the effort 
  • Rewards were not appealing 
  • Points expired too quickly 
  • Redemption was a hassle 

The most preferred loyalty program rewards are:

  • Cash back 
  • Discounts on purchases 
  • Free shipping 
  • Gift cards (42% prefer physical gift cards, 31% digital, and 27% no preference)

47% would prefer to save up points or rewards for a specific purchase, rather than having them automatically applied

60% say they use their rewards for themselves 

The Loyalty Experience 

Nine out of ten consumers describe their experience with a loyalty program as good or great. Only 1% report having a bad experience. 

86% are likely to participate in any loyalty program in the future. 

Over half of respondents cited … 

  • More opportunities to earn points 
  • Better point value, and 
  • Getting more things for free 

… as reason to switch to another company offering a similar product. 

“Rewards [programs] should give a bonus, not give a penalty for forgetting to use a [loyalty] card.” — Finance Manager

Paid membership rewards programs drive regular engagement 

  • 86% take advantage of their rewards at least once a month 
  • 83% of paid membership program participants visit the website or app of the program monthly or more 

The most preferred methods of communication for loyalty programs are: emails or notifications if your points are about to expire and emails or notifications offering promotions. Online customer service chat was ranked as least preferred, even despised, among members. 

Most respondents would spend their time completing one of these activities to earn rewards: 

  • Watch a video 
  • Write a review 
  • Watch a product demo 
  • Fill out a personal profile 

Plus, one-quarter of respondents would be willing to spend more money on a current purchase to earn rewards.

Consumers are no strangers to loyalty programs. For those who actively participate in one, rewards are valuable, and consumers are highly motivated to earn them.

Survey conducted May 17-24, 2021 1,189 US Panel