Study: Nearly Half of Consumers Remain Loyal for Rewards

ST. LOUIS, Mo.—More than 45 percent of consumers say the opportunity to earn rewards is a primary driver for purchasing from a brand, according to a new study from Maritz Motivation Solutions.

 The Maritz LoyaltyNext Customer Study surveyed 2,000 consumers on their loyalty to and engagement with brands. The study was conducted via online survey; participants needed to be a member of a loyalty or rewards program. Completed late last year, study results will be released in stages in 2016.

When asked why they purchase from a brand, a majority of consumers cited the ability to earn points and rewards, as well as good promotions and low prices. Fewer consumers purchased based on great experiences and service, or on shared values and opportunities to connect socially.

“When evaluating your brand, consumers also are evaluating your loyalty program,” said Barry Kirk, vice president of Customer Loyalty Strategy for Maritz Motivation Solutions. “Marketers shouldn’t be surprised by this, as U.S. consumers have been trained for decades to expect brands to pay them for their repeat business.”


In other findings, 43 percent of consumers join loyalty programs because of the desire to earn rewards.  Only 17 percent of those in loyalty programs say they joined out of love for the brand’s products, and just 5 percent because of a shared identity with brand values. Six out of ten customers believe that companies only offer rewards programs to get them to buy more, rather than in an effort to build a relationship with them.

While the results underscore the value of points and rewards programs, the study also demonstrates the potential for brands to forge better relationships with consumers, Kirk said.

“The data suggests consumers don’t see the experiential part of the program and that brands really do want a relationship with their customers,” he said.

To foster those relationships, Maritz has developed a framework that outlines four types of customer loyalty based on the behaviors and engagement of loyalty program consumers and program brands. The framework shows the degree to which a program is transaction-based or relationship-driven, and the level of passive or active engagement of program members.

What Maritz calls “inertia loyalty” focuses on “barrier to exit,” such as subscriptions and contracts.  “Mercenary loyalty” primarily focuses on customers being rewarded monetarily for purchase behaviors.  With “true loyalty,” the focus is on great experiences and service. The most loyal consumers are those who exhibit “cult loyalty,” personally identifying with the values of the brand and actively seeking to connect socially with fellow brand loyalists.

“The data reveals a major opportunity for companies to tap into the relationship aspect of loyalty inside their programs,” Kirk said. “By creating engaging experiences and emotional connections, you can forge deeper relationships with your customers.”

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