The Element Of Surprise: Brands And Your Loyalty

I don't often begin a column with a question, but even in search ads running on Google and Bing, how do brands show their loyalty to customers? Consumers are looking for new ways for their favorite brand to reward them for their loyalty.

The appeal of surprise when it comes to loyalty rewards continues to rise. And it shows.

Increasingly I am beginning to receive “surprise” discounts in emails and Google Gmail ads for stores where I shop. It turns out that 61% of consumers say the most important way a brand can interact with them is by surprising them with offers or gifts just for being a customer.

HelloWorld, a Merkle company, released its 2019 Loyalty Barometer Report on Monday. The report looks at how consumers view loyalty and rewards programs and how opinions have changed in the past two years since releasing the first report on the topic.

The survey analyzes findings from 1,500 consumers who were sourced outside of the programs managed for clients. Responses came from U.S. residents in 2018, all between the ages of 18 and 65. The data was segmented from Baby Boomers to Gen X to Millennials and Gen Y.



Although websites topped the list as the most preferred way to access loyalty program information, there is growing interest in new channels such as smart speakers and Facebook Messenger.

The data also points to the shift toward “emotional loyalty” and differentiating between brand experience and the mechanisms that enable loyalty programs.

Consumers are making brands work for their loyalty, even more so than in the past. Brands can’t rely solely on loyalty. They need to consider the entire brand experience.

About 75% of consumers like free products and discounts, but 54% complain that it takes too long to earn rewards and 39% say it’s too difficult to earn rewards. About 36% say they receive too many communications and 32% say the rewards are not valuable enough.  

The chance-to-win rewards are increasing in popularity. Some 41% of consumers like chances to win prizes, while 32% love to receive surprises from the brand.

Across credit cards, travel, retail, and consumer product goods companies, consumers want the ability to choose their rewards.

Some 57% of consumers also said they are comfortable with companies using their purchase history for loyalty programs, compared with 51% who said it is acceptable for companies to use their gender, 48% who cite self-selected profile preferences, 30% who cite current location and 28% who cite their browsing history.

The findings from HelloWorld’s report demonstrates how consumers want brands to show them a little loyalty, from surprising them with discounts when they least expect it to making it easier to earn and redeem rewards.

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