In the loyalty world, understanding customers is make-or-break. We’re witnessing a changing loyalty landscape, in which data acquisition and experiential rewards are becoming a central part of the industry. Through these changes and innovations, loyalty marketers benefit from whatever insight they can get into consumers’ preferences.
 
Fortunately, HelloWorld has published a new whitepaper, its 2019 Loyalty Barometer Report, which is based on survey data from 1,500 male and female consumers. The data concerns what consumers want most from loyalty rewards programs. To learn more about the report, Loyalty360 recently spoke with Gina Fleck, HelloWorld’s Director of Loyalty.
 
Fleck introduced the report as an evolution of the company’s 2017 Loyalty Barometer Report. She said, “[The survey’s subjects] were all US residents ages 18 to 65, and they were selected specifically to be loyalty program participants who are not participating in programs that HelloWorld administers. The same demographic of users was surveyed for both editions of the report.”
 
She noted that there are two major standouts in the report. “One is comparing last year’s report to this year’s report; we found it really interesting to see some subtle movement in consumers’ favorite loyalty program structures. That is illustrated by the finding that, in 2017, the number one structure was ‘earn points for rewards,’ no surprise there. And number two is a more transparent ‘get $10 reward when you spend $100’ framework.” Instead of the former structure maintaining popularity over the latter, HelloWorld witnessed “those two structures tie for number one.”
 
Fleck suggested that the latter, more transparent structure may overtake points-based programs as the most popular structure in the near future. “Ultimately, we consider them both to be ‘do/get’ structures, but I think that it will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on as consumers’ preferences continue to shift in the future.”
 
The second standout came from the responses to a new question in the survey: “What is the most important way that brands can interact with you?” This question was designed to help brands figure out how to drive emotional loyalty. Fleck said that survey subjects “overwhelmingly felt that the most important way a brand could interact with them was by surprising them with offers or gifts just for being a customer.” A simple, unexpected gesture, the report suggests, is all it takes to build an emotional connection with consumers. “We were pretty surprised by that response,” Fleck added.
 
When asked about recent changes in the loyalty market, she said, “This will come as no surprise to anybody who touches the industry, but across verticals, there are now just so many loyalty programs. Practically every single brand has one at this point.” The takeaway from this, Fleck noted, is that it has yielded a certain “fatigue” in consumers. No present-day consumer is surprised when a brand launches a loyalty program, even if it’s in a vertical not historically known for loyalty marketing.
 
“Consumers all have baseline expectations of what they ‘deserve’ from a brand’s loyalty initiative, and that’s discounts and offers” said Fleck. “But brands now have to answer to the ‘what else,’ meaning that to truly motivate a consumer, it’s not enough to simply have a loyalty program and offer discounts. Brands need to connect with the consumer in a way that feels special and differentiated and unique to their individual brand.”

To learn more, download the full report.
 

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