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2021 Loyalty Barometer: A Guide to the Evolution of Consumer Loyalty

In our fourth annual Loyalty Barometer report, we dive into how consumers really feel about rewards programs and where brands may need to pivot to accommodate consumer preferences.

Let’s dive into a few of the key learnings we identified from our survey of 1,500 consumers:

Consumer loyalty goes beyond a stand-alone program

Marketers are witnessing the rapid evolution of loyalty from a static, programmatic strategy to an enterprise-wide endeavor that delivers loyalty outcomes with every brand interaction. This transformation in how we think about and execute loyalty marketing is driven by increased consumer centricity, applications of new technologies, the use of identity and data to inform customer relationship moments, and radical social change around health, equality, and consumer values.

The next evolution is about delivering a loyalty experience comprising of carefully curated moments of value that are informed by data, contextuality relevant, and seamlessly assimilated into consumer lifestyles to create emotional connections.

We believe a loyalty program can be a cornerstone of the overarching loyalty experience, providing moments that establish the trust and consistency needed to build lasting relationships that are rooted in emotion.

Additionally, in today’s data privacy landscape, loyalty and rewards programs provide the permissions-based structures that accelerate brand-consumer relationships and capture the first- and zero-party data brands must have to enable one-to-one personalized experiences.

Consumers still think of loyalty as a program

Although loyalty is transforming to be the result of every brand-consumer exchange, consumers most often view loyalty as an actual program (an incentive-based construct to reward them for their money, time, and attention), rather than an overall loyalty experience. And asking them to offer opinions on the overarching loyalty experience can be too abstract for most consumers.

Consumer insights on loyalty programs inform loyalty optimizations across all interactions

Because of its abstract nature, it can be challenging to understand consumers’ perceptions on a loyalty ecosystem. But acquiring their sentiments on loyalty programs (a more defined concept) still provides insights to help marketers improve their brand’s loyalty experience.

Our Loyalty Barometer Report provides key consumer sentiment and behavior insights on loyalty programs, helping marketers to improve the loyalty experience and related outcomes. This year’s findings show steady trends in consumer thoughts on rewards and benefits, with some shifts in data privacy comfort and new insights on the impact the events of 2020 had on brand loyalty.

Power your promotional and loyalty solutions with data

As the trusted partner to today’s top brands looking to engage and motivate their customers, Merkle Promotion & Loyalty Solutions offers unparalleled expertise in data-driven customer experience, strategy, and design of engagement and loyalty programs.

If you’re ready to use data to drive more business growth, contact us today.

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