On a Scale of 'Heck Yes' to 'No Thanks:' What Members Want and Don't Want When it Comes to Loyalty Programs

It seems these days everyone has a loyalty program – coffee shops, restaurants, airlines, education associations, hotels, retailers, etc.

And if you’re not currently rewarding your loyal customers and members for their stellar engagement and dedication to your brand or organization, then it's probably time to get moving.

Why? Because 70% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand with a good loyalty program, 77% say loyalty programs make them more likely to stay with brands, and 63% say they modify their spending habits to maximize loyalty benefits.

Not only are a lot of businesses, brands and organizations offering loyalty programs, member benefits and discount programs, but a lot of consumers and members are actively participating in them, too.

We're talking 43% of 18-24 year olds, 57% of 25-34 year olds, 66% of 35-44 year olds, 71% of 55-64 year olds and 65% of 65+ years who currently participate in at least one loyalty program.

So, we thought it’d be a good idea to once again delve into our 2018 and 2019 loyalty stats pages to gain some insight on what people really want out of their loyalty program(s).

After all, if a loyalty program is going to effectively do its job – creating higher engagement and long-term loyalty among users – then it has to offer relevant value. So let’s find out what members think is and isn’t valuable when it comes to loyalty programs – at least according to the data.

We’ve ranked these loyalty attributes on a scale of “Heck Yes” → “Nice to Have” → “No Thanks."

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Heck Yes


Customers and members want to feel known. They want to believe you understand them. In other words, they crave personalization. When personalization is done well, there is a 6.4x lift in member satisfaction with the loyalty program.

Consumers consider relevant value that is personally useful to them as a “must have” feature, with 87% of loyalty program members saying they are open to having various details of their activity and behavior watched, monitored and traced in order to receive access to personalized rewards or engagements.

Intuitive & Convenient Technological Integrationcell phone

We live in an age of instant gratification, which holds true when it comes to loyalty programs. 78% of consumers prefer to access rewards and incentives online and want them immediately, with 65% of millennials saying they prefer digital rewards.

And this sentiment isn't much different when it comes to mobile capabilities – 75% of all consumers and 97% of millennials would engage more with loyalty programs that make rewards information mobile-friendly, while 54% of loyalty program members say it’s frustrating when programs can’t be easily accessed on their smartphones. And 85% of loyalty program members who have redeemed with their mobile phone, say their experience was improved by that technology.

As technology becomes a larger part of each up and coming generation’s world, keeping up with modern technology is a necessity. 95% of loyalty program members want to engage with brands through a mix of new, emerging, and growing tech, including augmented reality, virtual reality, card-on-file and more.


People love discounts and discount programs. Why? Because everyone likes to save money. Keeping more of your hard earned dollars is appealing and valuable to all demographics. So it should come as no surprise that the main reasons people participate in loyalty programs are to receive discounts/offers (43%), earn free products (27%), access to exclusive rewards (10%), and members-only benefits (9%).

In fact, getting good deals is so important that 78% of millennials look for discounts when deciding whether or not to join a loyalty program, and 86% of shoppers said they’ve joined a loyalty program to collect points for rewards.

83% of loyalty program members who receive automatic, location-based offers inside a store, and 84% who were able to instantly redeem points for purchases at other merchants said it improved their experience.

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Nice to Have

Option for Fee-Based, More Exclusive Benefits

Paying a little more money to receive premium perks is becoming more and more popular, with 43% of all consumers and 77% of "digital natives" willing to pay a premium to participate in a loyalty program if they will be rewarded with valuable perks.


People are also increasingly drawn to the “fun” aspect gamification brings to loyalty programs. Gamification is the application of common elements found in game playing (i.e. scoring points & competing with opponents) to other areas of activity.

56% of loyalty programs already employ game mechanics. And 53% of loyalty program members say game mechanics would make the program more enjoyable, and when gamification is present, 81% of members take advantage of it.                                                                          

So if you’re looking to improve the loyalty program experience for your members, try using gamification – as programs see an almost two-fold (1.7x) lift in enjoyment. And if you're wanting a little more education and inspiration around the idea of "leveling up your customer loyalty" with gamification, check out this excellent article on the subject from PostFunnel. 


Members consider it valuable finding new brands and deals that are relevant to them. 60% of loyalty program members expressed interest in partnerships introduced to them through their loyalty programs, 27% say their program has a partnership, and 75% find the partnership appealing.

No Thanks

Collection of Personal Information

you-invaded-my-personal-bubble-its-onTrust is becoming a huge issue between customers and the brands they buy from. People want to feel good (and safe) when they purchase products or join an organization.

With more and more technology hacks and cyber-crime, people are reluctant to give out their precious personal information. Loyalty program members are demanding higher standards for security and privacy, so much so that 71% of Americans would be less likely to join a rewards program that collects personal information and 27% would be much less likely to join.

Even younger generations that grew up with technology aren’t ignorant to the risks of putting important information out there. 28% of Gen Z is reluctant to join loyalty programs because they don’t want to give up too much personal information.

This is why VALUE is so crucial to your loyalty program and the member benefits you offer – it motivates customers/members to use the program, builds loyalty and trust, and as a result encourages them to be more open to offering things like personal information. 

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When Signing Up and Earning Rewards is Too Complicated

If you want people to be a part of your loyalty program, don’t make the process of signing up and actually using their rewards a difficult one. It defeats the entire purpose of loyalty programs in the first place.

45% of Millennials and 40% of Gen Z don’t join a loyalty program because it requires too many purchases to earn rewards. 34% of Millennials and 28% of Gen Z don’t join a loyalty program because the enrollment process is too long. And more than 50% of loyalty program members agreed that without easily accessible programs, rewards often go unused or expire because members aren’t aware they’ve accrued.

Where Does Your Loyalty Program Rank?

So now that you know what members love, like and loathe, you can reevaluate your current loyalty/discount/member benefits program – to see what you may need to add in order to increase value and usage, as well as what you might want to get rid of because it’s decreasing the effectiveness of the program.

Don’t have a loyalty program at all? Consider a member discount program. The right ones are easy to implement and are LOADED with relevant value.

Then, make sure to check out our eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Discount Programs, for help in figuring out the best program for your business or organization. Good luck!

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Topics: Customer Engagement, Member Benefits, member engagement

Written by: Ashley Autry

Ashley Autry is a Marketing Professional at Access Development. She's an expert proofer, gatherer of loyalty stats, research ace, writing queen, and overseer of various marketing projects.

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