How to restore customer loyalty tested during the pandemic

According to a survey​ of 2,500 US adults conducted by loyalty program provider Clarus Commerce, 68% of consumers agree their loyalty is more difficult to maintain – up from 64% in 2020, and the vast majority want more than points and the promise of future discounts from retailers in exchange for their allegiance.

While this means retailers may have to work harder to attract shoppers, Clarus Commerce also found more people are willing to pay for better benefits – opening the door for stores that offer premium or subscription loyalty programs to forge long-lasting and prosperous relationships with consumers.

Shifting shopping habits create opportunities

While some consumers who tried new channels or stores during the pandemic will go back to their old habits as the threat of COVID-19 eases, Clarus Commerce CEO Tom Caporaso notes that many will not.

“There’s a lot more customers up for grabs than there were two years ago, and I think premium [loyalty programs] is an opportunity and a solution”​ for retailers and brands to secure their allegiance, Caporaso said.

He explained that unlike traditional loyalty programs that are free but require consumers to collect points or reach certain thresholds to qualify for benefits, premium loyalty programs with a subscription fee typically offer more instant gratification benefits that consumers have come to expect and which they deem more valuable.

“Our data showed that almost 80% of consumers don’t want to accumulate points anymore … they want those benefits now. And when we started to dig deeper into those benefits, free shipping continues to be the No. 1 benefit,”​ followed closely by instant discounts and fast shipping, he said.

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