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The 15 Most Important Loyalty Statistics Straight from Retail Marketers

There are lots of loyalty stats out there from a consumer perspective, including our 2020 Premium Loyalty Data Study.

But if you’re looking for statistics from retailers, read on.

Based on a national survey of 300 marketing and loyalty professionals, our 2021 Loyalty Industry Data Study reveals retailers’ current and future loyalty strategies, barriers to loyalty program innovation, heightened expectations for loyalty in 2021, and the need to re-evaluate the value their loyalty programs hold.

Here are the top 15 loyalty statistics to consider from the study as you plan your customer loyalty strategy.

1. 90% of retailers say enhancing or expanding their loyalty programs is a priority for 2021

Two-thirds of consumers believe their loyalty is harder for retailers to secure now. And nearly 40% of consumers are not interested in joining loyalty programs due to their lack of perceived value.

Many loyalty programs feel similar and don’t do a great job at differentiating.

Most retailers realize these factors and want to expand/enhance their loyalty program to make it more appealing to consumers.

Premium loyalty is one option retailers can leverage to enhance their programs and increase engagement.

2. 95% of retailers with traditional loyalty programs have discussed launching a premium loyalty program in 2021

Let’s look at the facts: 67% of consumers aren’t satisfied with traditional loyalty programs.

Premium loyalty programs are becoming best practice for some retailers because they increase engagement with your best customers and build emotional loyalty.

These programs offer instant, 24/7 access to top-tier benefits like free shipping and immediate discounts, in exchange for a membership fee.

Brands need to differentiate and the pandemic has accelerated this process for retailers and heightened consumer expectations.

3. 78% of consumers anticipate an increase in the number of premium loyalty programs due to COVID-19

The pandemic impacted retail and consumer behavior forever.

These new behaviors all circle back to convenience and it all comes back to what consumers want and expect.

As consumers have flocked to online purchasing since the pandemic started, brands have adapted as best they could. According to a McKinsey loyalty study, 35% of U.S. consumers have tried a new brand since the pandemic started and 77% have tried new shopping behaviors.

They want and need to create differentiation and that can happen through a premium loyalty program.

These programs offer instant benefits to your best customers who spend more, shop more, and advocate for your brand more.

4. 51% of retailer with premium loyalty programs consider program members to be at least 4x as valuable as non-members

This stat underscores the rising popularity of premium loyalty programs and the incredible value they can offer your brand.

For many members, a premium loyalty program becomes so ingrained that it’s part of their daily lives.

They engage with your instant benefits right away and your program is always top of mind to them. Clearly, these are your VIP customers.

5. 41% of retailers say their loyalty program members receive benefits within the first month

It’s good to see a large percentage of retailers are offering benefits faster. But to cement customer relationships from the start, you should try to offer benefits as quickly as possible.

The truth is that requiring customers to accumulate points over time for rewards that come later doesn’t work anymore.

While points can still be impactful and have their place, consumers want things now. And when they belong to your loyalty program, don’t make them wait to receive benefits.

Think of things you can offer immediately when they sign up and every time they engage, or as much as possible.

6. 86% of retailers who offer benefits within the first week say their loyalty program members shop at least once a week — that number drops to 63% for those who offer benefits within the first month

Retailers that offer benefits sooner also experience faster ROI.

This shows that loyalty program members will engage with your brand frequently if they receive benefits quickly.

When you launch your loyalty program, don’t make members wait to use your benefits.

7. Retailers with premium loyalty programs tend to offer benefits faster: 65% say their members receive benefits at least within the first week.

Premium loyalty programs are appealing because most members receive benefits within the first week.

By doing this, your brand meets members’ expectations and they keep you top-of-mind and build strong emotional connections.

Providing faster benefits solves consumers’ need for instant gratification.

8. More than half of retailers (62%) who offer benefits within the first week see ROI within the first six months

Brands who offer loyalty program benefits fast will reap the dividends. It’s better for you and your members.

Speed matters for program members waiting to receive benefits.

Consider that brands who offer benefits within the first month, only 21% see ROI within the first six months.

Don’t make loyalty program members wait to receive benefits.

9. 37% of retailers say “competing priorities” were the biggest barrier to entry in launching their loyalty programs

Loyalty must be a companywide strategy. If it’s not, it will never truly take off and resonate in the hearts and minds of your members.

If loyalty is truly a companywide strategy for you, this stat becomes moot because brand officials will find a way to prioritize it and make it work well.

This is also where a loyalty vendor can assist you.

Retailers who worked with a vendor were 3.5x more likely to have updated their program in the last month.

10. 57% of retailers cite lack of budget, internal resources, or IT support as the main reasons for not launching loyalty programs

Directly related to this stat is a possible solution: Working with a loyalty vendor.

Our study shows that 51% of retailers that work with a vendor see ROI within six months. And a vendor keeps your program fresh and optimized.

Consider that retailers who work with an experienced partner/vendor proved to be 3.5x more likely to have updated their loyalty programs in the prior month.

11. Almost 1 in 4 retailers say they lacked the internal resources to build and manage their programs

Retailers are busy with a variety of tasks, and many don’t have the time and/or resources to devote to building and managing a loyalty program.

It comes down to priorities for many retailers, especially keeping their companies afloat since the pandemic began.

Loyalty, done right, is a massive undertaking to build and manage. It takes a dedicated team to really do a good job with it.

So, if you want to design, build, launch, and manage a successful loyalty program, partnering with an expert vendor might be your solution.

12. 44% of retailers who use a vendor say loyalty members shop with them at least once every few days, compared to only 30% of respondents who manage programs in-house

Retailers that work with vendors see ROI from their loyalty programs faster. This shows how top-of-mind your brand is when you work with a vendor. And they will shop with you more often than non-members.

If you lack internal resources, let a loyalty vendor handle everything to do with your program. They’re the experts.

Lean on a vendor to do this instead of even looking for internal resources.

Vendors are up to date on best practices and will always have your brand’s best interests in mind.

13. 84% of retailers with a premium loyalty program rate the profitability of their programs an 8 or above (out of 10)

This shows the value of premium loyalty members to your brands and is another reason why many retailers with these programs consider their members to be at least 4x as valuable as regular customers.

Premium loyalty programs give you an incremental revenue stream from membership fees, along with long-term increased in engagement, AOV, and brand affinity.

According to McKinsey, besides the incremental revenue stream from annual fees, premium loyalty members are 60% more likely to spend more on the brand after subscribing, while free loyalty programs only increase that likelihood by 30%.

As a result, McKinsey says “paying members can be worth several times more than non-paying members, even setting aside revenue from membership fees themselves.”

14. 62% of retailers with only traditional programs have not updated their loyalty programs in the past three months

Working with a loyalty vendor erases this issue.

Vendors work diligently at keeping loyalty programs, fresh, optimized, and updated. If this doesn’t happen, your value proposition takes a hit and you lose members.

Consider nearly 40% of consumers don’t join loyalty programs because of their lack of perceived value.

It’s very important to keep updating and optimizing over time.

If you see your loyalty program membership numbers drop off, or there is a lack of engagement from current members, it likely means your benefits aren’t attractive.

This is a huge point for any retail loyalty program. Offer valuable benefits that members will engage with and use frequently.

15. Over half of retailers (59%) only offer a traditional loyalty program

Because most brands offer traditional loyalty programs, there is a huge opportunity for retailers to add a premium loyalty tier.

This would help your program by giving your customers another option with better, instant benefits.

It would help your brand differentiate, offer more value, and become more top-of-mind.

In fact, 67% of consumers are likely to join a premium loyalty program if they already belong to that retailer’s free loyalty program.

Emerging Loyalty Trends to Consider

Four main themes emerged from our 2021 Loyalty Industry Data Study.

  • Instant loyalty program benefits lead to better results
  • Premium loyalty members are significantly more valuable to your brand
  • Retailers working with loyalty vendors see greater success
  • And the quicker you offer loyalty program benefits to members after they sign up, the greater lifetime value you will see from them

For more great loyalty stats and insights, download our 2021 Loyalty Industry Data Study here.


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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ebbo™ is an all-in-one loyalty company. With our data driven strategy, full-service approach, and the unwavering support of the people behind the platform, our dedicated team will work with you to understand your loyalty goals, innovate solutions and help you build customer engagement on repeat.

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