Current loyalty approaches are broken. Brands spend billions on loyalty programs but fail to increase customer engagement. Our previous research showed that 90% of consumers have a negative perception of loyalty programs.1 In addition, over half (54%) of loyalty memberships have fallen inactive and over a quarter of consumers (28%) abandon loyalty programs without redeeming any points. 2
Many of today’s loyalty programs attempt to buy consumer loyalty through monetary rewards. The consumer might receive discounts or vouchers and, in return, organizations expect them to spend more or give up their data. Many organizations run these sorts of programs and achieve what looks like loyalty, at least on the surface.
But what does it really mean for a consumer to be loyal to a brand?
To uncover the true drivers of loyalty, we undertook a worldwide, cross-sector research program. We broadened our perspective—exploring beyond the mechanical and rational drivers associated with conventional loyalty programs. We explored loyalty from an emotional perspective to identify the drivers that brands can harness to build meaningful loyalty with consumers. We surveyed over 9,000 consumers and 500 executives, and we spoke to leading academics in the field. The Research Methodology at the end of this report provides further details.
We found that emotions play a far greater role in creating true loyalty than current approaches recognize. In this report we:
1. Explore how emotions are the main driver of loyalty
2. Understand who emotionally engaged consumers are and what motivates them
3. Assess the size of the prize for organizations with emotionally engaged consumers
4. Recommend strategies for how organizations can make better emotional connections with consumers.