News Feature | April 22, 2015

Survey Shows Loyalty Counts

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer

Customer Loyalty Counts

Retailers from all facets of industry offer loyalty programs because they're a way to market to their customer base and offer a bonus to consumers. Whether they're offered by restaurants or department stores, loyalty programs provide an incentive for consumers to visit the retailer to maximize their benefits. A new survey by Bond Brand Loyalty, a company that helps some of the world's most influential brands offer loyalty programs, reveals the programs' consumer perspective, engagement, and more.

The fifth annual 2015 Loyalty Report features results from a survey of 10,000 consumers on loyalty programs in several industry categories including entertainment, dining and consumer goods. The study found that consumers believe loyalty programs are worth the effort they put into them, and more importantly, that the programs have an effect toward influencing consumer behavior. The results were published in the 2015 Loyalty Report, now available for at Bond Brand Loyalty's website, and revealed that the top three drivers for programs are the effort to participate, the program meeting needs, and enjoyment of program experience.

Overall impressions on loyalty programs is positive, with 43% of customers survey indicating they were “very satisfied” with the program experience, this answer up slightly from 39% in 2014. The dining category was where customers found the most satisfaction at 52%, and the category with the lowest amount of satisfaction was Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG). Also winning an impressive score was customers' impression of the enrollment process, with 42% of respondents indicating their satisfaction; this number also increased from 2014, which found 34% of customers indicating the same. In another increase over last year's finding, 37% of customers also indicated that loyalty programs were trustworthy.

Integrating loyalty programs with mobile devices has been a focus for brands for several years, and customers are eager to have the option to use their programs a tablet or smartphone: 48% of members said they'd like to engage with brands via a mobile device. However, consumer use of a loyalty program's website has decreased in 2015, with only 33% of customers answering that they had visited a program website in the last year, down 4% from 37% in 2014. Brands that operate at least one social media profile for their respective loyalty program may be surprised to learn that only 10% of members follow a loyalty program.

For a retailer, the loyalty program is a way to let consumers save on their purchases, and interact with the brand in a continuous way, whether it be through social media or participating in an offer. Consumer behavior was a topic for the survey, and 64% of members said they modified the brands they purchased to maximize their benefits.  Of the customers surveyed, 34% stated that they wouldn't be loyal to a brand without the brand's loyalty program, and they viewed the program as part of the brand. 76% of customers also thought the brand was their relationship with the brand.

Perhaps one of the most important concerns for a brand in loyalty programs is whether a customer would recommend others to the particular program: 34% of members said they strongly agree that they would recommend the program to other individuals. As brands introduce new programs and refine existing ones, they can be aware of the consensus for consumer perspective on brand loyalty. One takeaway from the survey is the need for brands to focus on more personalized experiences so the customers develop a strong loyalty for the company.

"Brands with established loyalty programs now must make the shift to the future of loyalty and an experience-based model that is consistent with the overall brand," says Bob Macdonald, president and CEO of Bond Brand Loyalty. "It's more important than ever that companies focus on their best customers, and their data, to design a more personalized and authentic experience, which can help build stronger, more meaningful bonds with customers."

The 2015 Loyalty survey also asked consumers to rank brand loyalty programs in several industries, and the Executive Summary included a list of the the best programs for each category. Among those ranked best were Amazon, Regal Cinemas, Subway, TGIFridays, and Kroger. A full list is available at the report on Bond Brand Loyalty's website.