American consumers consider the highest-rated loyalty programmes to include Chase Ultimate Rewards, Carmike Cinema Rewards, Kohl's Rewards, Kroger Rewards, Southwest Airlines' Rapid Rewards, and IHG's Priority Club Rewards, according to a survey report from Maritz Loyalty Marketing. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The new annual survey, entitled 'Maritz Loyalty Report: U.S. Edition', was created to helps marketers better understand the motivators of brand loyalty across six key industries (financial services, entertainment, retail, grocery, hospitality, and airlines), and found that the top-rated programmes by consumers, in terms of overall satisfaction, were:

  • Financial Services - Chase Ultimate Rewards (84%)
  • Entertainment - Carmike Cinemas Rewards (79%)
  • Retail programmes - Kohl's Rewards (73%)
  • Hospitality / Hotel - IHG Priority Club Rewards (67%)
  • Grocery - Kroger Rewards (83%)
  • Airlines - Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards (58%)

The results suggest that 71% of members would join more loyalty programmes, even though the average US consumer is already enrolled in 7.4 loyalty programmes, and members are actively participating in only 63% of the programmes in which they are enrolled.

"Our study revealed that 47% of members have stopped participating in one or more programmes in the past year. This number is disconcerting for programme operators, yet of even greater concern is that only seven percent of these defecting customers actively defect, meaning they actually formally ask to leave a loyalty programme," said Scott Robinson, senior director of loyalty consulting for Maritz Loyalty Marketing. "Given the high percentage of passive defection, it is paramount that loyalty marketers proactively identify the early warning signs of disengaged members."

Overall, 65% of members said they are satisfied with the loyalty programmes in which they participate. The study included customer ratings for more than 35 programme attributes and key drivers of satisfaction, including programme values (pride of membership, programme uniqueness, meeting customer needs), programme mechanics (ability to earn and redeem points, quality of rewards), ability to interact with programmes (website, mobile, customer support), programme innovation (programme freshness, access to exclusive events, personalised experiences), and communications from programmes (means, relevance and frequency of communications).

Interestingly, the top programmes were rated similarly on many of these attributes, and the top programme tends to discern itself from next-best programmes by a higher rating on only one key attribute. In some programme categories, such as retail loyalty and airline loyalty, top-rated programmes and next-highest rated programmes score similarly on all attributes. In these competitive categories, the attribute on which the highest-rated programme discerns itself from next-highest rated programmes is a secondary and differentiating driver.

"The implication for programme operators," concluded Robinson, "is that in order to be competitive, especially in categories with many largely undifferentiated programmes, it is essential for programmes to deliver effectively on both the key drivers of satisfaction and also the secondary drivers of satisfaction."