In the US, it is the retailers - and particularly the department, drug and specialty stores - that have captured the consumer's loyalty, according to the 2013 Loyalty Census from Colloquy, leaving frequent flyer programmes and credit card rewards schemes far behind.
Department Stores achieved 70% growth in loyalty programme memberships since the 2011 Colloquy Census, far surpassing the 26.7% rate of growth in loyalty programmes across all sectors tabulated in the 2013 Census. The number of Department Store memberships is 193.9 million. Drug Store memberships grew an impressive 45% since 2011 to a total of 142.4 million.
Memberships in Specialty Retail programmes rose to 360.5 million for a 26% increase since 2011, and Specialty Retail is positioned to pass Airline programmes (at 371.2 million memberships) to take second place, behind only Financial Services, in the rankings of loyalty programme memberships by sector.
The latest count shows that the average US household holds 21.9 memberships in loyalty programmes but is active in 9.5 of those. In the 2011 Census, those numbers were 18.4 and 8.4.
The 2013 Census shows that total membership in US loyalty marketing programmes across all sectors is 2.647 billion, a 26.7% increase over the 2.089 billion memberships in 2011.
"As the economy slowly breathes new life, loyalty programmes have gained increased awareness," said Colloquy research director, Jeff Berry. "We expect to see continued growth as increasingly sophisticated programmes revitalise engagement with existing members and attract new participants."
In other significant findings, the Financial Services sector has blossomed again, reaching 548.3 million memberships, representing a 27.9% growth rate over 2011. Grocery loyalty programmes, conversely, are wilting somewhat, with 172.4 million memberships that represent a 1% contraction from 2011.
Fuel prices are up but memberships in fuel and convenience store loyalty programmes are not. Fuel and convenience programme membership plunged 21% to 25.3 million in the 2013 Census.
For sheer growth, the Restaurant sector impressed in 2013, reaching 26.5 million memberships for an explosive 171% gain over 2011. Hotel loyalty memberships rose 26% to 223.6 million, Airline programmes achieved a 14% gain to 371.2 million.
Colloquy is the research arm of coalition loyalty programme provider LoyaltyOne, and previously published its Loyalty Census in 2000, 2007, 2009 and 2011.