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Customer Loyalty

Key Findings from the 2020 Loyalty Barometer Report

Written by 
Brad Davis
March 24, 2020

As any business owner no doubt already knows, brand loyalty is a constantly evolving industry.

The way consumers shop is constantly evolving, as is the way that brands engage their target demographic. People’s attitudes towards loyalty programs change over time, and businesses need to adjust their approach in order to ensure their loyalty program continues to entice customers to join and participate.

For the last few years, marketing agency Merkle has been conducting annual surveys on consumers’ shifting attitudes towards loyalty programs. Based on the respondents’ answers, Merkle compiles an in-depth report on how brands can adjust and revise their rewards programs in order to keep their customers happy.

What were the key findings from the 2020 Loyalty Barometer Report?

At Stamp Me Loyalty Solutions, we’re passionate about helping businesses of all shapes and sizes reward their customers in a way that consistently strengthens the emotional connection between the brand and the customer.

That’s why we dug through Merkle’s most recent report, the 2020 Loyalty Barometer Report, to provide you with the most relevant and crucial information. So, without further ado...

1. Don’t make customers work too hard or wait too long for rewards.

i want it now

The #1 reason consumers grow dissatisfied with a loyalty program is that it takes too long to earn a reward.

This is perhaps the most standout finding that Merkle’s most recent report revealed. Respondents said that of the loyalty programs they currently belong to, their #1 pet peeve was how long it took to see any reward for their spend or engagement.Customers who are feeling this way are at high risk of becoming lapsed or expired customers; jumping ship to a competitor who offers quicker or more frequent rewards.Take an objective look at the structure of your loyalty program, and analyse whether or not the rewards being offered match the effort required to redeem them. If you’re still unsure, why not ask your loyalty program members for feedback?By offering rewards points in exchange for answering survey questions or writing online reviews of your program, you can get a snapshot of what your customers think of your loyalty program’s “points accrual vs. reward redemption” model.

2. Let customers personalize their own experience, instead of automatically doing it for them.


85% of consumers want to be able to personalize their own customer experience by choosing their own perks, benefits and rewards.

It’s one thing to use customer data to tailor each customer’s loyalty program experience through targeted marketing and personalized offers; but this latest survey indicates that most consumers want to be able to actually choose their own rewards.It seems that in 2020, brands must find an appropriate balance between data collection and a more transparent “choose your own options” approach.Three-quarters of respondents also expressed an interest in having brands personalize the way each customer earns points, not just personalizing the rewards themselves.This means that an efficient loyalty program will distinguish between the customer that likes to shop in-store and the customer that likes to shop online, and offer different methods to earn points towards their next reward accordingly.Perhaps in addition to earning points with every purchase, the in-store customer earns points by physically attending brand events, referring friends and making purchases at partner retailers.As for the online customers, they can earn extra points by writing online reviews, participating in competitions held on social media channels, and sharing brand content like articles and videos.This kind of variety might soon become the new definition of “personalization” in brand loyalty and customer retention.

3. The “surprise and delight” approach is as important as ever.

surprise and delight, incremental rewards

59% of consumers consider “surprise and delight” mechanisms to be a crucial aspect of a brand’s engagement strategies.

When you consider the above three points altogether, it seems like the best approach to loyalty programs in 2020 is to first entice customers with the essentials like free and discounted products.Once they have joined your loyalty program, offer them an increasingly personalized customer experience through a mixture of:- customer data from previous transactions- variety in rewards, and the option to choose which are most appealing- feedback, which you can incentivise with points towards their next rewardAnd finally, weave “spontaneous” surprise offers and unexpected rewards through the fabric of your loyalty program to increase engagement and brand loyalty.

Some other notable findings…


While we consider the above points to be the key takeaways, there are a few other findings from the most recent Barometer Report that jumped out at us.For instance, more than a third of consumers want access to additional perks through gamification and engagement, rather than simply spending.Gamification has been a hot topic in brand loyalty for a while now, but if you can find a way to gamify the non-spending aspects of your loyalty program (referrals, social media engagement, survey and poll participation, events attendance etc.) then you’re truly ahead of the curve.A quarter of respondents said they receive too many communications from brands. As discussed in our other article, How Frequently Should You Be Communicating with Your Customers, the trick is to make your brand’s communication so good that customers WANT more of it.

So… what’s the final takeaway?

It appears that while a points-based system is still the preferred method of earning rewards, consumers want more ways to accrue these points, such as:

- participating in surveys

- responding to polls

- writing online reviews

- downloading apps

- viewing brand content (videos or articles)

- following brands on social media

- referrals

- physical attendance in-store or at an event

- purchases across multiple retailers

The better you can incorporate these mechanisms into your loyalty program, and be creative with incremental rewards and gamification techniques, the more success your rewards program will have in engaging your customers.

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