by Alex Palmer | May 16, 2013
Consumers’ wallets and purses may be bursting with loyalty club membership cards, but they believe there is room for plenty more, according to new research. The Maritz Loyalty Report finds that the average American is an active member of 7.4 loyalty programs, but 71 percent of members say they are open to joining more loyalty programs.

The research is part of a broad study that also finds a growing demand for programs that can be accessed across multiple channels, including smartphones, and that almost three-quarters of consumers express enthusiasm, rather than concern, about receiving personalized offers. 

“It is an exciting time for loyalty,” says Scott Robinson, senior director of loyalty consulting for Maritz Loyalty Marketing, which commissioned the study. “The marketplace is constantly changing, the extent to which technology permeates consumers’ lives is remarkable, which is creating new possibilities for communications, new sources of data, and new possibilities.”

But for consumers to be interested in the programs and their communication strategies, messaging has to be relevant. The study found that when loyalty programs offer “tailored and timely” communications, member satisfaction increases threefold. 

The way members receive communications is a key factor in their satisfaction with their loyalty program. Some 46 percent of respondents said they wanted to receive communications through at least three channels, while 73 percent of mobile-device users want their loyalty programs to interact with their smartphone or tablet.

Overall, 65 percent of program members said they were satisfied with their loyalty program, while 74 percent categorized receiving personalized offers based on their purchasing habits as “cool and exciting” versus 24 percent that said it was “creepy.” This response to personalized messaging varied by age, with younger consumers expressing more enthusiasm than older consumers.

“On the Maritz Cool-to-Creepy Index, a higher percent of younger consumers find the ways in which marketers are using their personal information cool and exciting, while a higher percentage of consumers in older demographics find the ways in which marketers are using their personal information creepy and weird,” explains Robinson.

He pointed to the fact that 53 percent of all members cite that it is “cool and exciting” to receive special offers based on liking on Facebook or following on Twitter, while this number jumps to 65 percent among respondents between the ages of 16 and 34 years old.

“This demographic is comfortable sharing online, and building relationship online can be on par with face-to-face relationships,” says Robinson. “As a result, they are more likely to find personalized offers and communications based on what they’ve done online to be cool.”