Customer loyalty programs are nothing new, but do they work? And how much value do they create? 

Recent CivicScience data show that over a fifth of U.S. adults say customer loyalty programs are ‘very’ important to them in choosing where to shop and what brands to buy, while one-third report they’re ‘not at all’ important. Additionally, 66% of consumers who place the highest importance on loyalty programs say they are ‘very’ loyal to their favorite brands. 

Where can you find these consumers who especially value loyalty programs? Recent polling data show you may find them shopping online – more than half of respondents who highly value customer loyalty programs are shopping online more than they typically would around this time last year.

Take Our Poll: Do you belong to any loyalty programs for stores, airlines, hotels, or other companies that you pay a monthly or annual fee for?

The majority of Americans prefer free loyalty programs, except Democrats.

The top type of loyalty program among Americans is free memberships where users can earn points – a method favored by as much as two-thirds of Americans. However, loyalty program users who pay a recurring fee for larger discounts are most likely to be ‘very loyal’ to their favorite brands.

Loyalty program preferences differ by political affiliation. For instance, while 77% of Republicans and 70% of independents are most likely to also say they like free programs, Democrats (48%) are far less likely to agree. A slim majority of Democrats are more likely to use paid loyalty programs, including programs requiring either a one-time membership fee for smaller discounts on all future purchases (23%), a one-time fee for larger discounts on a set number of purchases (15%), or a recurring membership fee that grants them larger discounts on all future purchases (13%).

Want to see more insights exploring how political affiliation affects consumer well-being, financial outlook, and spending plans as the 2024 presidential election fast approaches? Click here to see how the CivicScience 2024 Election Mindset Tracker can help you stay one step ahead. 

Consumers love rewards programs offering free shipping and discounts the most.

What loyalty program perks are most enticing to consumers? Additional polling showed free shipping (much like online holiday shoppers), the ability to earn larger discounts, and gaining small discounts on everyday purchases were the clear top three among U.S. adults, including across each age group. That said, Gen Z adults are more likely than others to look for exclusive access to limited edition products, and Millennials are more keen on VIP events or experiences.

Three Insights About Consumers Who Highly Value Customer Loyalty Programs:

  • Those who consider customer loyalty programs to be ‘very important’ are more than three times as likely to say TV advertising influences their purchase decisions at least ‘a little.’
  • They’re far more likely to expect their credit score to go up in the next six months.
  • When asked why they’re loyal to their favorite brands, 6-in-10 cited ‘quality.’ They’re also more than four times as likely to list ‘service’ compared to those who say loyalty programs are not important to them. 

Although economic headwinds have forced some brands to scale back their loyalty programs, it comes at the risk of alienating loyal customers. It’s clear that many Americans place at least some level of importance on loyalty programs when making purchasing decisions. Tailored rewards perks and, in some cases, paid programs could offer a possible way forward as brands fight to maintain customer bases in a tougher economic environment. 

Join the Discussion: Which of the following best describes your levels of satisfaction with the rewards/perks offered in brand loyalty programs?

Want to see more consumer insights like these? Click here to see how CivicScience’s database of over 500K ‘always-on’ questions allows clients to recognize trends before they happen.