Loyalty programs are missing a good story

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on September 2, 2014

Customers in the US, on average, have 10 loyalty cards in their wallet, and nearly two thirds of American consumers don't think being loyal to a brand is important, according to 'Living Loyal', a study of loyalty across North American brands by customer engagement agency The Marketing Store.

However, the key to loyalty may be as simple as the age-old art of storytelling, the study found. Specifically, the research uncovered some interesting data about emotional loyalty and what it means to be loyal to a brand.

Surprisingly there does seem to be a dramatic predisposition toward brand loyalty - that is, a willingness to engage relationally with a brand - among two out of six customer segments identified.

The three major findings of the study included:

  1. Emotional Brand Loyalty Is Tied To Storytelling
    The study indicates that story, and the act of storytelling, is key to building lasting brand engagement. Across all categories, the self-reported top-ranked drivers of brand loyalty centred around telling stories.
  2. Six Shopper Loyalty Segments Were Identified
    Living Loyal identified six segments of shoppers and their relative share of the population: Trend Setters (14%), Prestigious Loyalists (25%), Quality Seekers (21%), Non-Shoppers (20%), Deal Hunters (11%) and Dollar Stretchers (9%). Each group is identified by a number of attributes, including purchase drivers and brand affinity. Two had a much higher propensity for brand loyalty.
  3. Men and Women Approach Loyalty Differently
    The study attempted to peel back the layers as to why this should be the case, documenting some distinctions in the ways that men and women think about loyalty and, perhaps more importantly, how brands can best approach these distinctions.

Conducted by The Marketing Store in partnership with IPSOS, the study researched over 1500 US consumers between the ages of 18 and 65 and focused on consumers' participation in loyalty programmes across five travel and retail categories (those being airlines, hotels, retail/women's apparel, supermarkets, and retail/sporting goods) to help identify the key drivers of emotional brand loyalty, and how loyalty initiatives impact wallet allocation.

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