Loyalty programs, once a staple of the airline industry, are now used by many industries and companies. So we wanted to find out: Which are the favorite loyalty programs of consumers and why? We asked 100 consumers in the United States and 100 in the United Kingdom.
In a few hours, we completed the study of 200 respondents through Voxpopme’s Influence platform of on-demand consumers.
We combined quantitative and qualitative questions in the study, and the platform neatly packaged the results in one dashboard.
As a screener question, we asked:
Are you part of a loyalty program?
“Yes” answers advanced.
On the quantitative side, we asked:
- Has inflation influenced you to join a loyalty program?
On the qualitative side, we asked:
- What is your favorite loyalty program?
- Why is this your favorite loyalty program, and how does it compare to other loyalty programs?
To sum it all up, we created a quick highlight reel of reactions for the U.S. consumer responses:
And we created a separate highlight reel for the responses from consumers in the United Kingdom:
The quant results
Almost 60 percent of U.S. respondents said inflation influenced them to join a loyalty program.
In the United Kingdom, the answers were more 50-50.
The qual results
During the study, respondents recorded a quick asynchronous video message for the qual questions – selfie-style, directly from their phones.
The automatic sentiment analysis showed that 57 percent of all statements in the United States were positive, 11 percent negative, and 32 percent neutral.
In the UK, sentiment looked very similar to U.S. respondents’ sentiment.
Unlike the quant questions – which are self-reported answers – this sentiment analysis pulls from what respondents said in their video responses.
The automatic theme explorer and Word Cloud gave me an idea of some of the most mentioned topics.
At times, I also use the Theme Builder and my knowledge of the subject to build and group themes for topics that I consider related.
Next, I read through the transcripts of the responses. This is an easy way to read some more in-depth, skim ahead when applicable, and go back to previous answers in seconds.
Examples of people’s favorite loyalty programs (United States)
The favorite loyalty programs for U.S. consumers in our study are:
- Bath and Body Works
- Beauty Insider
- BJ’s Rewards
- Burger King Royal Perks
- Capital One
- Casey’s Rewards
- Circle K Easy Rewards
- Costco Executive Rewards
- Dunkin Donuts
- Fetch Rewards
- Food Lion
- Finish Line
- Flying J
- Harris Teeter
- Kohl’s cash
- Mapco rewards
- Old Navy
- PetSmart Treats
- Johnnie’s Rewards
- Rite Aid Rewards
- Stripes Convenience Stores
- Target Circle
- Turkey Hill
- Ulta Beauty
- United Dairy Farmers
- Winston Cigarettes
Other consumers mentioned features of loyalty problems or types of industries:
- Hotel programs
- Loyalty programs that offer gift cards
- Gas station loyalty programs
- Cashback rewards credit cards
- Vape shops
Examples of what consumers said
“One of my favorite loyalty programs right now is McDonald’s. And the reason being I was homeless for a couple of months, and McDonald’s probably saved my life. The app was easy to download and didn’t take much to order because they have a great selection. And what I like about it is McDonald’s is constantly giving back,” said Larry, 49, of Galveston.
“My favorite loyalty program would be Target Circle. This is my favorite loyalty program because of how many deals there are and the amount of cashback you receive, and you get a birthday gift every year,” said Cassia, 23, of San Antonio.
“Bath and Body Works is my favorite because I use it almost daily. And it’s very easy and very quick to rack up points. Based on how many points I get, I can get a free item,” said Precious, 29, of Tampa.
Samantha, 43, of Harrisonburg, said she likes loyalty programs that come with a card that she can swipe at the store.
“My favorite loyalty program is Scooter’s loyalty program. I just love that if you buy five coffees, your sixth one is free. So I feel like it’s a really easy and attainable loyalty program. I feel like you accrue faster because five isn’t that many compared to other places that are like ‘buy ten, get one free,'” said Amy, 33, of Liberty.
Respondent’s favorite loyalty programs in the United Kingdom
Here are the brands mentioned by consumers in the U.K.
- The Body Shop
- Boots Advantage Card
- British Airways
- British Airways credit card
- Caffe Nero
- Costa Club
- Edge by the Sea coffee
- Pizza Express
- Marks and Spencer
- My Lidl
- My Morrisons
- Nectar at Sainsbury’s
- Tesco Club
- Whole Foods (365 program)
Several people also mentioned Amazon Prime, which I would consider more of a membership program. Prime doesn’t give consumers rewards for shopping. It charges them a fee for faster shipping, Amazon Prime Video, and other services.
My definition of a loyalty program is an initiative that allows consumers to report their purchases by tying their phone number, account number or by having a rewards card. Some loyalty programs have loyalty member pricing on items, and others give discounts or free items based on the amount of loyalty points consumers earned. On the other hand, some membership programs, like the Co-op in the U.K. do offer discounts or cashback. Typically, loyality programs are free to join and offer perks for purchases.
I was surprised by the few mentions from the travel industry in both parts of the world. I always associated loyalty programs with travel, after all. Part of that might be because way more businesses now have loyalty programs than was the case years ago.
Another reason might be less travel overall.
“I’ve had a few loyalty programs over the years, something to do with travel, but I don’t travel as much anymore, so I wouldn’t involve that one. The main ones have been things like credit cards and Tesco club card,” said Mark, 45, of Cumbernauld.
Where to next?
Consumers explained why they like one loyalty program better than another, and often it came down to the right discounts at the right intervals. But what’s next? Especially as more and more companies start a loyalty program, there’s an opportunity to find out why consumers pick specific programs over others and how they use that loyalty program membership in their decision-making.