The average household in the US has over 21 loyalty program memberships. But, the household only actively uses 44% of these. More than half of consumers in a 2013 survey admitted they had abandoned at least one loyalty program in the past year. Our own analysis of customer sentiment on social media revealed pronounced dissatisfaction. Almost 90% of social media sentiment on loyalty programs was negative.

We assessed loyalty programs on a number of parameters. These included their central objective, their use of digital channels, and their ability to provide a seamless experience across channels (more detail on the approach is at the end of this paper). We found, in short, that companies have a lot of catching up to do. 97% of loyalty programs rely on transactional rewards, i.e. a customer makes a purchase and takes their points in exchange for gifts, merchandise or cash. The issue is that 77% of those transaction-based programs actually fail in the first two years.

Reinventing loyalty programs

According to our research, only 25% of loyalty programs reward customers for some form of engagement. Where loyalty programs are also lacking is advanced personalization: only 11% of loyalty programs offer personalized rewards based on a customer’s purchase history or location data.

This research highlights why organizations need to think beyond points and how they can implement well-designed, engagement-based loyalty programs.

Click to see infographic