New Research From the UK: Rewards are the Most Important Part of Loyalty

WM Circle Logo

By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on March 6, 2020

The loyalty industry in the UK is one of the most sophisticated and diverse in the world. It is undergoing a period of seismic change. In the last 2 years nearly all of the big loyalty programmes have made significant changes. There has been an explosion of new programmes and some fairly significant closures too, most recently 3’s Wuntu programme which closed its doors at the end of 2019. Brits are getting ever more demanding and what matters is changing, a lot. New research from Mando-Connect and YouGov explores what Brits really want from loyalty programmes in 2020.

The biggest revelation is that what you offer your members matters a lot more than how you offer it

Brits are motivated by rewards, above all other elements. Nearly three quarters of Brits (69%) think that the benefits and rewards are important when choosing to become or stay as a member of a loyalty programme. Next comes the discounts on products and services offered (61%). A good and easy membership experience, including sign up and account management, comes third (45%). Rewards are 1.5x more important than member experience, yet most programmes in the UK think about rewards last. Rewards should come first.

Brits want rewards to save them money

The next big revelation was how important value is to the British in 2020. The dominant emotion in the British loyalty psyche is savviness. 83% of Brits want rewards to save them money. The British are a nation of deal hunters (68% always make sure they use all available coupons, sales and deals when they shop). It makes sense that this translates into the types of rewards they most desire.

After value comes treating, 53% of Brits want rewards to be a treat

Treats are a very popular reward offer in UK programmes. Boots Advantage Card, one of the biggest UK programmes, is perhaps the biggest offerer of treats. Its 14.4m members can “collect 4 points for every £1 they spend, then treat themselves to something they really want with their points!” But there are smaller programmes that understand this insight too. Paperchase Treat Me is all about treats for “people with a slight Paperchase addiction”. The programme offers treats based on shopping, but layers in extra treats on your birthday (a £5 treat), when you buy 7 cards and when you join (15% off).

Brits want charitable and environmentally supportive rewards

After treating, Brits now want loyalty programmes to help others. 28% of Brits want rewards to support good causes or help the environment. There are very few British programmes active in this space. Probably the most established is Marks & Spencer’s Sparks. The programme understands that what matters to its members matters to M&S, so it donates to a charity every time members shop. Big news for 2019 in the UK was Shell’s announcement that it would enable Go+ members in the UK to drive carbon neutral by offsetting their fuel purchases. And smaller programmes are starting to be active in this space too — TK’s Maxx’s Treasure is currently enabling members to donate to charity and offering eco-friendly rewards like bamboo straws.

Young Brits are elusive

The research also explores who Brits want rewards from (partner rewards are 10% more appealing to loyalty members than a brand’s own in every sector in the UK); what they think and feel about the loyalty industry (73% are big fan, they think loyalty programmes are a great way for brands and businesses to reward customers); and, who engages and who doesn’t. 18-24s are a big problem for the industry in the UK: just under half of young men aged 18-24 are not members of a single loyalty programme (44.3%) and just over one third of young women aged 18-24 aren’t either (33.1%).

Listen to our podcast with Head for Points founder and travel loyalty expert, Rob Burgess: #56: Head for Points – Interview with the UK’s leading website for frequent flyers

The research paints a clear picture of an industry that is thriving, but changing. To find out more and get your copy of the research please visit here.

Charlie Hills is a featured contributor to the Wise Marketer and is the Managing Director and Head of Strategy at Mando-Connect.