The 2015 Colloquy loyalty census

Indeed, the size of the membership base isn’t the best indicator of success; in fact, programs whose members aren’t engaged, no matter how many there are, waste  resources – of both the loyalty operators and their valuable customers. On the other hand, engaged and devoted loyalty members form lasting and prof­itable relationships with brands and companies, spend more time and money with them and spread the positive buzz to their friends.
COLLOQUY took the tempera­ture of the loyalty-marketing landscape for the first time in 2000 to quantify the size of the industry and break it down by sector. Those results created a benchmark for the industry and inspired us to take on much more ambitious analyses in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. Our latest under­taking, in 2014, is the basis for this, The 2015 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census. Each one has advanced the body of knowledge and shed light on the ever-changing field.
Memebership growth
And what changes there have been. Loyalty memberships in the United States have more than tripled since 2000, when there were 973 million memberships. The big finding in the 2015 Census is that the membership growth shows no signs of slowing; it’s still going gangbusters, with 3.32 billion loyalty members in 2014, com­pared with 2.65 billion in 2012. But engagement, as already indicated, is sliding, with an active rate – that is, members who have not just enrolled in programs but are using them to earn rewards – of 42%. It’s a warning that should have all loyalty marketers working to distinguish their programs in ways that resonate with consumers.
Two other key findings materialized in the 2015 Loyalty Census: First, the loy­alty landscape is changing across all verticals. Financial services, specialty retail and airlines still account for the majority of all memberships, but the fastest expansion came in restaurants and drugstores. Second, the emerging platforms sector – which includes everything from Amazon Prime to mobile loyalty reward programs such as Five Star – is  gaining speed.
Loyalty memberships have reached a level where consumers  – American households average  29 loyalty programs each – are  not active in even half of their  memberships. How will companies set themselves apart? If they don’t, they are vulnerable to being dumped as customers shed programs that are irrelevant, have mediocre benefits or stale mechanics or simply can’t differen­tiate their value propositions.
While this can be daunting, it offers the oppor­tunity to raise the game on loyalty programs, and encourage consumers not only to accept the party invitations but also to join in on the party.

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