Canadian consumers hold 175 million memberships in customer loyalty programs, according to the 2017 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census, featuring for the first time COLLOQUY's traditional audit coupled with consumer survey research. This article is copyright 2017 The Best Customer Guide.

COLLOQUY's biennial report continues to show an uptick in consumer membership as was reported in 2015. The 35% rise in memberships in 2017 represents a double-digit increase over the 8% growth reported in COLLOQUY's last Census in 2015, when overall Canadian membership totaled 130 million.

For the second consecutive study, membership numbers improved in every economic sector covered in the Census. Similar to the U.S. market, memberships in retail make up the majority of loyalty memberships, with 51% of the total.

The Census shows that memberships in the other loyalty sectors are as follows: 19% in financial services, 14% in travel/other and 16% in coalition.

The survey data shows the loyalty landscape is a lot to handle for many Canadians, with 32% reporting they feel overwhelmed by the number of loyalty programs available, versus 27% of the American respondents who said the same.

In other 2017 Census highlights:

  • Coalition programs witnessed the highest growth at 78%, spurred by SCENE and other new coalition programs coming into the market. Additionally, MORE Rewards added a large national partnership in 2016, Petro Points, and partnered with Scotiabank Visa, now qualifying MORE Rewards as a coalition program. The coalition market is not only expanding but also diversifying into providing more types of rewards and experiences to consumers.
  • Compared with Americans, Canadians are more skeptical of loyalty marketing with 46% saying loyalty programs are nothing more than marketing schemes, compared to 32% of Americans who responded the same.

"The membership increase signals that Canadians still find loyalty programs fun and rewarding. Successful programs today are bridging the gap between loyalty and great customer experience," said Melissa Fruend, LoyaltyOne Global Solutions partner and COLLOQUY Census author. "Retailers can't afford to become complacent. To sustain success, they still need to create more personalized and relevant experiences for their best customers."