35% of shoppers can't be bothered by loyalty programs

As many as 35 percent of affluent, middle-class shoppers say they "can't be bothered" with joining loyalty programs, up from 18 percent in 2014.

According to new research released by Collinson Group, the same group of consumers are less likely to recommend a brand to friends and less likely to refrain from switching to a competitor as a result of a current loyalty program. In fact, membership programs are lower across eight categories including grocery and retail, than in 2014.

"Our research is a wake-up call to brands in every industry where points-based programs offering generic rewards are still being used. Given the importance of affluent middle-class consumers on the fortunes of companies, it is imperative that low-performing initiatives are aborted, and that brands rethink how they recognize, engage and reward customers," said Christopher Evans, director, Collinson Group. "Global consumers now expect real-time interactions with brands on a platform of their choosing. These interactions should be highly personalized and relevant, and as ever, consumers expect to be rewarded for their continued custom."

The study polled more than 6,000 shoppers who earn in the top 10 to 15 percent in the United States, the U.K., Australia, Brazil, China, France, Hong Kong, India, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore. The group revealed that 69 percent expect high quality and consistent customer service, and 67 percent value the flexibility to choose the rewards and benefits they are offered.

The most popularity loyalty programs were supermarkets; 64 percent of those surveyed are members of this type of program, down from 70 percent in 2014.

"We continue to see the potential of loyalty initiatives to positively influence consumer behavior, as despite lower membership numbers, three quarters of programs across eight industries still encourage higher spending," said Evans. "There is an appetite for loyalty and customer engagement initiatives, but consumers are turning their backs on programs they do not value. The affluent middle class value spending time with, and providing for, their families, as well as saving for the future. These rank far higher than driving a good car or going on a luxury holiday, and brands should seek to tap into what motivates their customers, instead of reach for discounts or material goods as rewards."

Despite the downturn in consumer sentiment, many retailers continue to invest in programs to encourage shoppers to spend with them. For example, Whole Foods recently unveiled its first loyalty program, and even Walmart, which has long eschewed launching a loyalty program, in March began offering shoppers a charge card that serves as a payment and rewards program.

For more:
- see this Collinson Group press release

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