Many consumers are willing to pay for premium loyalty programs

As shopping trends normalize post-pandemic, U.S. consumers are more likely than ever to join a premium loyalty program — especially if it comes with guaranteed, up-to-the-minute discounts on gas and fuel. groceries to help offset high inflation that is driving up fuel and food prices, new research from Clarus Commerce shows.

Of 2,500 US shoppers surveyed, 78% said they want to join premium membership-based loyalty programs and 72% are already part of them, according to the report “2022: Premium Loyalty Data Study”, released yesterday by Clarus , a Hill, Connecticut-based Rocky customer loyalty and engagement strategy firm. Among consumers not yet participating in a premium loyalty program, 77% said they would join one if it was offered by their favorite brands and the value exchange was worth it.

The number of consumers who want to immediately benefit from loyalty programs – both premium and traditional – has remained stable year-on-year, at 78% in 2022 compared to 79% in 2021, the study reveals. But interest in gas and grocery reward programs has skyrocketed from 35% last year to 51% this year for gas loyalty and 58% to 65% for l ‘grocery.

Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents said they would be willing to pay an annual fee for a loyalty program with their favorite brand. This includes 46% willing to pay less than $50 per year, 22% $51-$100 per year, 8% $101-$150 per year, and 2% more than $150 per year. Twenty-three percent said they wouldn’t pay anything to join a premium program.

Clarus noted that with consumers looking for new avenues of brand engagement, this year will be pivotal for brands trying to attract more loyal customers. The 2022 study asked consumers about their shopping habits and expectations for premium loyalty programs, their willingness to share data, and their interest in brand activations in the metaverse.

“The pandemic has permanently changed consumer expectations, and brands are still finding their new normal,” said Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus. “At the same time, brands are jumping into the metaverse, producing more mobile apps than ever before, and finding new ways to integrate social selling into consumers’ daily lives. With all of these thriving avenues of engagement, shoppers are noticing brands that are willing to reward them for their attention, and the competition is getting bigger.

Other key findings from Clarus research include:

• 87% of Gen Z respondents said they plan to join a premium loyalty program in the next 12 months, compared to 85% of Millennials, 76% of Gen X, 61% of Baby Boomers and 46% of the silent generation.

• 83% of consumers participating in traditional loyalty programs would subscribe to the same brand’s premium plan if offered.

• Almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) said they wanted to engage with a brand in the metaverse to unlock an exclusive offer, and more than a quarter (27%) said they were “very interested”.

“We can expect retailers to get more creative this year,” Caporaso added, “by designing tiered loyalty programs or adding premium tiers to existing programs, and finding new ways to increase customer engagement through other exciting promotional campaigns like sweepstakes and giveaways.”

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