Consumers are more motivated by loyalty programs than ever before

Marketers must evolve and differentiate programs to sustain consumer engagement in a highly competitive loyalty landscape

TORONTO, March 31, 2015 /CNW/ - Enrolment levels in consumer loyalty programs have reached an all-time high as Canadian consumers continue to consider them valuable and credit them with influencing shopping behaviour. According to a survey conducted by Bond Brand Loyalty and sponsored by Visa Canada, nearly one-third of consumers agree they would not be loyal to the brand if it were not for a loyalty program, and 71 percent of consumers modify when and where they shop to maximize points, a 20 percent increase over the past two years. In addition, loyalty programs were found to be a top contributor to brand loyalty, ranking higher than factors such as product and service availability, overall price, promotions, and communications from the brand.

In its fifth year, the survey engaged more than 6,000 consumers to uncover insights on brands and loyalty initiatives used in industries such as retail, consumer packaged goods, financial services, entertainment, and dining. Key findings are included in the Canadian edition of the newly released 2015 Loyalty Report, available for download at www.bondbrandloyalty.com.

"Canadians love loyalty programs, and consider them a key factor in credit card choice and usage," said Jennifer Arthurton, head of consumer products at Visa Canada. "We're pleased to partner with Bond to bring this study to market, and to share these valuable insights with our issuing and merchant partners."

While the number of programs in which members are enrolled continues to grow, from about 10 programs per person in 2014 to more than 11 per person in 2015, the number of programs in which members are active is not experiencing the same level of growth. "While points and discounts drive behaviours, companies need to engage with consumers at a deeper level if they want to extend program loyalty into genuine brand loyalty," said Scott Robinson, senior director of Loyalty Consulting & Solutions for Bond Brand Loyalty. "This necessitates thinking beyond a program's monetary incentives to focus on how it can better serve customers or make their experience with the brand more enjoyable, including fulfilling customer needs.

According to consumers, the three top functional-based satisfaction drivers in loyalty and rewards programs are the appeal of the rewards or benefits, the ability to reach desired rewards and benefits in a timely manner, and the number of ways rewards and benefits can be earned. However, experience-based drivers are equally as weighty in terms of their influence on overall program satisfaction. The three top experience-based drivers are effort to participate, the program meeting needs, and enjoyment of program experience.

"Brands with established loyalty programs now must make the shift to the future of loyalty and an experience-based model that is consistent with the overall brand," said Bob Macdonald, president and CEO of Bond Brand Loyalty. "It's more important than ever that companies focus on their best customers, and their data, to design a more personalized and authentic experience, which can help build stronger, more meaningful bonds with customers."

When it comes to mobile, strategic and creative approaches to engage consumers are equally essential. More than one-third of consumers want to engage with programs via mobile, yet the study reveals the presence of what may appropriately be termed "mobile loyalty app-athy." While 10 percent of consumers have downloaded a program app (up 4 percent over last year), still 66 percent of smartphone owners are not aware whether the loyalty programs in which they are enrolled offer a mobile app.

Only 18 percent of consumers surveyed strongly agree that loyalty program experiences are consistent with their brand or company experiences, and 45% percent of consumers agree that it would be easy to replace a program with one from the competition, further illustrating the need for brands to build more unique experiences.

Top-Performing Loyalty Programs

This year's study profiles over 100 Canadian loyalty programs on overall satisfaction and over 40 other metrics. Brands with highly-rated programs include McDonald's, Loblaws, Pennington's, Scotiabank, Cineplex, Canadian Tire and Amazon.

About Bond Brand Loyalty

Bond Brand Loyalty, a Maritz Company, is a leader in building brand loyalty for the world's most influential and valuable brands. We make the world more rewarding for customers, richer and more resilient for brands, and extremely profitable for our clients. We build measurable, authentic and long-lasting relationships through a combination of services that include loyalty solutions, customer experience, marketing research, customer analytics, live brand experiences and proprietary loyalty technology platforms. Visit our website, follow us on Twitter or contact us at 1-844-277-2663.

SOURCE Bond Brand Loyalty

Image with caption: "Bond Brand Loyalty 2015 Loyalty Report (CNW Group/Bond Brand Loyalty)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150331_C8336_PHOTO_EN_13753.jpg

For further information: Richard Lane, 905.696.5319, richard.lane@bondbrandloyalty.com


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