ShopTalk: A case in rewards points


Loyalty can have its benefits, especially when it comes to retail rewards programs. From discounts and coupons to free products and services, repeat shoppers can rack up all kinds of incentives through loyalty programs at their favorite retailers. And these programs don’t just benefit shoppers. Respondents in a TechnologyAdvice study report being over 80 percent more likely to shop at stores that offer loyalty programs.

Another benefit for retailers is the data that they can amass on their clients’ shopping behaviors. Analyzing their spending patterns can help better target offers, discounts, and advertisements. This data can also help guide recommendations for new products that existing customers might like to try.

And loyalty programs aren’t just for the big guys. Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can also reap the benefits that larger retailers enjoy by implementing scalable solutions that won’t break the bank.

To learn more about loyalty rewards programs and how shoppers are using them, Vantiv and Socratic Technologies recently conducted a survey of 500 consumers to learn more. One of the key takeaways from the study is the sheer number of respondents that use them. A full 92% of respondents are enrolled in at least one loyalty rewards program. This widespread adoption indicates that loyalty rewards programs are not only popular, but that shoppers are very familiar with them and comfortable using them.

The survey also finds that shoppers tend to belong to multiple programs – an average of 6.7 per person. And Gen Xers are the generation that has the highest average number of memberships to loyalty rewards programs at 7.2. Baby Boomers have the second highest average at 7.0, Millennials come in third at 6.2, and Retirees are last at 5.8.

There are also gender differences when it comes to loyalty rewards program participation. Women belong to more programs, on average, than men. Women record 7.6 per person and men come in at 5.9 per person. In addition, women are more likely than men to belong to these types of loyalty rewards programs: grocery stores, drugstores, department stores, fast casual restaurants, discount retailers, and apparel retailers.

These results show that loyalty rewards programs are popular and appeal to all generations. But which programs are the most popular? It comes as no surprise that grocery stores top the list. Considering that shoppers make an average of 1.6 trips to grocery stores during a week, and that discounts are often tied in with loyalty programs, their popularity is easy to understand. The ShopTalk survey results show that 63% of consumers belong to grocery loyalty rewards programs. The second most popular program is drugstores at 57%.

Why do people join loyalty rewards programs in the first place? Automatic discounts are the most popular reason, with 46% of survey respondents saying so. The second most popular reason is free shipping (44%), followed by points for free travel or merchandise and members-only discounts at 39%.

Knowing what consumers do like about loyalty rewards programs begs the question of what they don’t like. The survey reveals that the top complaint about loyalty rewards programs is that there’s too much spending required to reach the next status level (45%). Consumers also dislike rewards that expire before they can be used (43%) and rewards that are hard to use due to restrictions (34%).

The survey also inquired about coalition loyalty programs. Coalition loyalty programs allow multiple retailers/restaurants to participate in one master loyalty rewards program so consumers can amass more points at a wide variety of retailers/restaurants. The survey shows that 25% of survey respondents belong to a coalition loyalty program and 43% of consumers report that they would shop more frequently with retailers or restaurants that are part of a coalition loyalty program.

An important element of loyalty programs is the data that retailers collect and how they use that data. Personalized recommendations are one of the most popular ways that loyalty data is used, but how do shoppers feel about this? The survey reports that 33% of loyalty rewards programs members are “extremely” or “very” interested in receiving recommendations or offers based on past purchases.

However, interest in receiving personalized recommendations varies by generation. Millennials are more interested than other generations in receiving personalized recommendations based on prior purchases at 55%. The generation that’s least interested is Retirees at 57%. In keeping with the popularity of these program, consumers are most open to receiving purchase history recommendations from grocery stores (42%) and drugstores (31%). And email is the most preferred method of receiving these recommendations at 43%.


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