Loyalty – the quality of being loyal to someone or something. For businesses, building loyalty with existing customers is often critical to their long-term success. In fact, loyalty programs in the U.S. date back to the late 1700s when a merchant started giving out copper tokens to existing customers that could then be exchanged for items in their store. Granted, over the past 200 plus years, loyalty programs have evolved, but the core objective remains the same – incent existing customers to keep coming back.
Today, loyalty programs come in many flavors and formats. From a rewards program integrated into a pre-funded digital wallet, like Starbucks, to the paper punch card at your favorite sandwich shop to the key fob from one of many retail chains. As you look around it sometimes feels as though nearly every business is offering some sort of loyalty program, but are consumers using them? And, just how many businesses are really offering programs? What are the statistics behind loyalty programs, for both consumers and businesses?
- Thirty-six (36) percent of Americans participate in loyalty programs
- In the U.S. there are 2.65 billion loyalty program memberships (an average of 21.9 per household
- The average individual has 7.4 memberships and is active in 63 percent of them (4.7)
- Sixty-nine (69) percent of consumers note that their choice of retailer is influenced by where they can earn customer loyalty/rewards benefits; 70 percent of members feel that loyalty programs are part of their relationship with the company
- Membership in loyalty programs is growing at an annual rate of 26.7 percent
- Less than 50 percent of companies can identify their most loyal customers
- Loyalty programs can increase a brand’s market share by 20 percent
- Forty (40) percent of SMBs have a loyalty program in place; 21 percent note that they plan to start one in the coming year
Loyalty programs continue to grow in popularity and usage. Consumers expect them and appreciate the value associated with a quality program. For large retailers, loyalty programs are inherent, but for SMBs well-managed programs offer a unique point of differentiation. And, new technologies are making it easier and even more cost effective for SMBs to implement and manage impactful loyalty and reward programs. The stats don’t lie – loyalty programs make a difference.