Enrolment levels in consumer loyalty programmes have reached an all-time high as Canadian consumers continue to consider them valuable and credit them with influencing shopping behaviour, according to a survey conducted by Bond Brand Loyalty and sponsored by Visa Canada. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

The study found that nearly one-third of consumers agree they would not be loyal to the brand if it were not for a loyalty programme, and 71% of consumers modify when and where they shop to maximize points, a 20% increase over the past two years.

In addition, loyalty programmes were found to be a top contributor to brand loyalty, ranking higher than factors such as product and service availability, overall price, promotions, and communications from the brand.

In its fifth year, the survey engaged more than 6,000 consumers to uncover insights on brands and loyalty initiatives used in industries such as retail, consumer packaged goods, financial services, entertainment, and dining.

While the number of programmes in which members are enrolled continues to grow, from about 10 programmes per person in 2014 to more than 11 per person in 2015, the number of programmes in which members are active is not experiencing the same level of growth.

"While points and discounts drive behaviours, companies need to engage with consumers at a deeper level if they want to extend programme loyalty into genuine brand loyalty," said Scott Robinson, senior director of Loyalty Consulting and Solutions for Bond Brand Loyalty. "This necessitates thinking beyond a programme's monetary incentives to focus on how it can better serve customers or make their experience with the brand more enjoyable, including fulfilling customer needs.

Loyalty satisfaction drivers
According to consumers, the three top functional-based satisfaction drivers in loyalty and rewards programmes are the appeal of the rewards or benefits, the ability to reach desired rewards and benefits in a timely manner, and the number of ways rewards and benefits can be earned. However, experience-based drivers are equally as weighty in terms of their influence on overall programme satisfaction. The three top experience-based drivers are effort to participate, the programme meeting needs, and enjoyment of programme experience.

"Brands with established loyalty programmes now must make the shift to the future of loyalty and an experience-based model that is consistent with the overall brand," said Bob Macdonald, president and CEO for Bond Brand Loyalty. "It's more important than ever that companies focus on their best customers, and their data, to design a more personalised and authentic experience, which can help build stronger, more meaningful bonds with customers."

Mobile loyalty drivers
When it comes to mobile, strategic and creative approaches to engage consumers are equally essential. More than one-third of consumers want to engage with programmes via mobile, yet the study reveals the presence of what may appropriately be termed "mobile loyalty app-athy".

While 10% of consumers have downloaded a programme app (up 4% over last year), still 66% of smartphone owners are not aware whether the loyalty programmes in which they are enrolled offer a mobile app.

Only 18% of consumers surveyed strongly agree that loyalty programme experiences are consistent with their brand or company experiences, and 45% percent of consumers agree that it would be easy to replace a programme with one from the competition, further illustrating the need for brands to build more unique experiences.

The 2015 Loyalty Report profiled more than 100 Canadian loyalty programmes on overall satisfaction plus another 40+ metrics. The brands with the highest-rated programmes included McDonald's, Loblaw's, Pennington's, Scotiabank, Cineplex, Canadian Tire and Amazon.