The US Loyalty Landscape
23rd May 2018
Maritz are a leading authority on all things loyalty in the US market. At the recent Loyalty Academy conference held in Florida this year, they launched the results of their loyalty study, following up with a public webcast in May.
Whilst the content was US specific, there were a number of concepts, ideas and results from their study worth sharing.
They kicked off the webcast by dividing loyalty membership behaviour into four distinct personas:
• Cult Loyalty – “the brand reflects my personal identity”
• Mercenary Loyalty – “I’m loyal because you pay me to be loyal”
• Inertia Loyalty – “I’m only here because it’s too much trouble to go elsewhere”
• True Loyalty – “My connection to the brand goes beyond the offer”
The survey found that in the US “most Brand loyalty is being bought rather than earned”. If you work in the world of customer loyalty this will not shock you, it’s also true in Europe. What did surprise me was another statistic from their study. Of the respondents that were members of points-based schemes, 78% said they became disengaged with the first year of joining – this is a serious problem. Whilst many organisations offer some form of cash as an incentive, points-based programmes have far greater potential to surprise and delight customers, but the journey is long and hard.
For most of the research one has to accept that a US audience is influenced by their own environment and experiences. As such we should be careful to draw too many conclusions for a European audience.
One of the main conclusions presented in the webcast was that “the idea that loyalty is binary – either you’re loyal or you’re not, is an outdated notion”. The speaker made a case for degrees of loyalty, I would agree. Loyalty is influenced by many things most of which have little to do directly with any loyalty programme. A bad experience or an inflated price can destroy the loyal behaviour of a customer in seconds. However, the loyalty programme must be seen for what it really is – it’s a rewards mechanic with the ability for the scheme operator to learn about its customers in order to add relevance to all its customer communications and proposition development. Nobody said it was going to be easy!