Could Unlock Billions in Spend by Bringing Experience up to Par with Expectations; Rewards only account for 25% of what drives loyalty member satisfaction; Top programs announced; Leaders adopt experience differentiators
Global customer experience marketing, management and measurement company, Bond Brand Loyalty, in partnership with Visa, released its 9th Annual Loyalty Report, revealing the loyalty program leaders and their primary drivers of success. Loyalty continues to deliver positive outcomes for brands, and the impact on advocacy, retention, and spend remains as strong as ever. At the same time, the data reveals that expectations of loyalty programs continue to steadily rise, year over year. Top programs differentiate and lead by prioritizing the program experience over the end reward itself.
In the travel industry alone, Bond estimates billions of dollars in customer spending is left on the table when brands fail to address the 14% gap in customer expectations versus current experience along the travel journey. By re-tooling travel loyalty programs and closing the gap to better meet expectations, customer spending in the travel category alone could grow by $5 billion. Bond also announced its top program rankings by industry along with its new Prime’nomic Scale—a benchmark for the impact of loyalty programs around the globe.
According to U.S. consumers, some of the top loyalty programs based on overall member satisfaction over the last year include Amazon Prime, Alaska Air Mileage Plan, Nordstrom Nordy Club, Hilton Honors and Domino’s Piece of the Pie Rewards. Additional brands trending well in customer loyalty include Airbnb, Netflix, Waze, Lyft, and Nike. Member satisfaction is highest in the category sectors of credit cards, gas/convenience, and cruise line. Retail apparel, car rental, and hotel sectors make up the bottom of the member satisfaction rankings.
Around the world, Bond has been taking stock of the relativity of loyalty satisfaction and engagement.
The Prime’nomic Scale
The Bond Prime’nomic Scale provides a benchmark for consumer expectations and the impact that best-in-class loyalty programs can have on influencing customer satisfaction and engagement around the globe. Using Amazon Prime (a top-ranked program in 7 out of 10 markets around the world) as a reference point, this new Prime’nomic Scale helps compare how a loyalty program in one market performs relative to programs in another market.
The data unveils key opportunities for brands to differentiate their loyalty programs by focusing on impactful elements the member experience, which will lead to deeper brand engagement and increased sales. Top recommendations from the findings include:
According to the study, gamification is a driver of program enjoyment. Enjoyment of participating in a program beats the actual end reward. 53% of program members say game mechanics would make the program more enjoyable and when gamification is present, 81% of members take advantage of it. Over half (56%) of programs employ game mechanics in their loyalty programs. When programs use gamification—like goal-setting, countdowns, and virtual rewards—programs see an almost two-fold (1.7x) lift in enjoyment.
As the data suggests, consumers have a high expectation that when personal data is shared, it will be used to make a much better and more personalized experience for them. Only 2 in 10 members say that they are very satisfied with the level of personalization they get from their loyalty programs, and only 24% of members say that programs keep their preferences up to date. When personalization is done well, there is a 6.4x lift in member satisfaction with the program. Successful execution of program communications can result in up to a 10x lift in personalization.
Refocus on Gen Z
Unlike their Gen X and Baby Boomer parents, the data finds Gen Z and younger millennials (ages 24–29) are highly influenced by loyalty programs (65% Gen Z and 71% Millennials).
Over half (59%) are comfortable with programs capturing their information in exchange for authenticity, purpose, and meaning. Even though young consumers are at the beginning of their earning potential, they’re willing to pay a fee to receive enhanced benefits from loyalty programs (52% compared to the average U.S. consumer at 43%). Gen Z and younger millennials are also beginning to change the payments ecosystem, and they will likely expect a digital experience wherever they go. 46% save a card on file with a brand for use, while 27% save their card in their smartphone’s digital wallet and show it to receive benefits or make purchases.
According to Bond’s data, program members have the capacity to be actively involved in only 7 programs. This represents an opportunity for brands to come together in a partnership when program participants have similar traits or buying patterns. 60% of members expressed interest in partnerships introduced to them through their loyalty programs. 27% say their program has a partnership and 75% find the partnership appealing.
There’s been a flurry of partnership activity in the U.S. over the past 12 to 18 months, with brands and programs like Marathon Fuel and Southwest Airlines, BP and United Airlines, JetBlue and Lyft, Hertz and CLEAR biometrics, and Reebok’s new Unlocked program that features 25 wellness partners.
“This year’s report substantiates the experiential elements of a brand’s program as the key to unlocking greater profitability,” said Sean Claessen, Chief Strategy Officer at Bond. “It’s the journey, not just the destination—when it comes to customer loyalty. The experience the program facilitates is what differentiates leaders from laggards. Personalized experiences, elements of game-science and strong brand partnerships—that deliver along the entire customer journey—are what make members more likely to increase spend, stick with and say good things about the brands they do business with.”
The Loyalty Report 2019, conducted in partnership with Visa, is recognized as the longest-standing and largest study of its kind, providing leading analysis of customer engagement, loyalty attitudes, behaviours, drivers and disruption. Now in its ninth year, the expanded 2019 global report features an unprecedented assessment of more than 900 loyalty programs in 20+ markets by more than 55,000 consumers across a range of key sectors including payments, retail, grocery, gas, dining, hotel, airline, entertainment, CPG and coalition. With loyalty programs becoming a vital element of customer–brand relationships and increasing influence on credit card decision-making and usage, this enhanced report will equip brands with the actionable information they need to gain a competitive edge and produce greater business results.
Bond is a global customer experience marketing, management and measurement company that specializes in building brand loyalty for the world’s most influential and valuable brands. Our mission is to make marketing more rewarding for customers, richer and more resilient for brands, and to deliver profitable business outcomes for our clients. We build measurable, authentic and long-lasting relationships through a combination of services that includes loyalty solutions, customer experience design, marketing research, customer analytics, live brand experiences and proprietary technology platforms. Bond has been recognized as a Best Managed Company for the second year in a row.