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How Loyalty Will Impact 2021 Holiday Shopping [Webinar Recap]

Many brands have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown in the first half of last year. 

Amid safety concerns and logistical nightmares, the 2020 holiday shopping season was challenging, to say the least. 

But there are positive signs that this year’s holiday shopping season will be much improved for brands. 

The new challenge for brands this year will be understanding what their customers are looking for and how loyalty will impact where they spend their money. 

Given heightened consumer expectations, with a focus on convenience and value, we wanted to find out how consumes view the upcoming holiday shopping season – and share the insights brands can use to formulate their loyalty strategies. 

This topic was the theme of a Loyalty360 webinar held Nov. 8, 2021, titled, “How Loyalty Will Impact Your 2021 Holiday Shopping.”  

Loyalty360 CEO and CMO Mark Johnson hosted the webinar, which featured Carlos Dunlap-Beard, VP Business Development & Loyalty Strategy, Clarus Commerce.  

Mark and Carlos examined new data from the 2021 Clarus Commerce Holiday Shopping Survey conducted in late September focused on loyalty and the 2021 holiday shopping season. 

If you haven’t already tuned in, watch the full webinar here.

If you don’t get a chance to watch it now, here are the takeaways from the webinar.   

Loyalty Is Important Around the Holidays

Eighty-one percent of consumers shop with brands during the holiday season because they are members of their loyalty programs. This is an important statistic that brands should be aware of as they prepare their holiday season loyalty strategies. 

Carlos explained that this point makes sense and program members exhibit this behavior because they’re loyal to your brand and they expect to see some great deals during the holiday season. 

According to the survey data, the top three things consumers will buy this holiday season are electronics, children’s entertainment, and household goods such as appliances. 

Loyalty boils down to consumers engaging with your program because it has value, Carlos said, adding: “If you provide consumers with an abundance of value throughout the year, your brand will be top of mind when the holiday season arrives.” 

Seventy-seven percent of consumers will spend more with brands whose loyalty programs they belong to this holiday season. 

This is a clear indication that your loyalty program is a major motivator for consumers during the holiday season. 

Discounts, Shipping, and Returns Are Important Benefits  

Consider 61% of consumers have joined a loyalty program to receive discounts for holiday shopping. 

Despite experiences, convenience, and exclusivity ranking as highly important elements of customer engagement (and are what differentiates your program from the competition), Carlos said your customers still love discounts, especially around the holidays.  

“Remember that consumers are looking to save money during the holiday shopping season,” Carlos explained. “Make sure these special discounts are not only visible to existing program members, but also to non-members. “  

When we asked what types of benefits loyalty program members will value the most this holiday season, discounts rose to the top. 

  • Product discounts (68%) 
  • Special expedited shipping (45%)
  • Better return policies (45%)
  • Free samples with purchase (24%)
  • Exclusive access to member events (21%)

“Interestingly, but not surprisingly, a lot of consumers also said they wanted exclusive access to special events,” Carlos added. “We’re seeing major retailers offer this already, like with Best Buy Totaltech and Walmart+, offering members early access.” 

It’s Important to Acquire New Members Now to Engage With Throughout the Year

Most consumers started their holiday shopping in November or earlier. In fact, 82% of consumers have exhibited this shopping behavior. And 80% of consumers are more likely to sign up for a retailer’s loyalty program during the holiday season. 

“This is also a prime time to get non-loyalty program members interested,” Carlos said. “Let your customers know what they may be missing out on by not being a member.” 

Not only is the holiday season the best time to acquire new loyalty program members, but Carlos also said the right time to start planning for the 2022 holiday season is immediately after holiday 2021 ends. 

“Make refinements to your program early in the year so that consumers are fully engaged by the time next holiday comes around,” he explained. 

Clarus recently released its 2021 Loyalty Program Benchmark Report which assessed and ranked the top 50 retail loyalty programs. 

One of the biggest areas of opportunity was around visibility because many brands aren’t using their physical and online real estate to build awareness and showcase your fabulous loyalty programs. 

According to our survey, these are the places your customers will shop during the 2021 holiday season. 

  • Mostly online with a few things picked up in-store (52%)
  • Mostly in-store with a few things picked up online (18%)
  • Online only (mobile app) (11%)
  • Online only (desktop website (9%)
  • Buy online and pick up in-store (4%)
  • In-store only (3%)


Embrace the Holiday Season and Target Loyalty Now and Beyond

It’s clear that loyalty is very important during the holiday season. It’s important to consumers and brands alike. 

It’s a great time of year to acquire new loyalty program members and make sure those relationships extend into 2022. 

While consumers value convenience and experiential elements in a loyalty program, during the holiday season especially the benefits they most desire are discounts, fast shipping, and better return policies.  

The potential impact your loyalty program can have on consumers during the holiday season can’t be stressed enough but it’s important to offer an amazing program all year. 


ebbo helps brands achieve their customer loyalty goals with full-service, end-to-end solutions and also creates original educational content straight from the experts to help loyalty marketers stay on the cutting edge of customer engagement.

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