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Colloquy is out with its annual Loyalty Census, concluding that "US consumers hold 3.8 billion memberships in customer loyalty programs," suggesting that "membership growth continues, but has slowed to 15% compared to the 26% growth rate achieved in the 2015 Census when total memberships were 3.3 billion."

The report goes on to say that "the new consumer survey research from the 2017 Census shows that 53% of U.S. consumers identified 'easy to use' as the main reason for participating in a loyalty program, topping 'gives me great discounts' (39%) and 'easy to understand' (37%), among other reasons.

"Conversely, the top reason given for abandoning a program was 'it took too long to earn points or miles;' a concern cited by 57% of respondents."

In addition, Colloquy says, " The survey research shows that across all sectors the top motivator is, I love the brand, company, retailer or service – purely emotional."

While "the retail sector accounts for 1.6 billion reward program memberships, making it the largest slice of the loyalty pie," memberships among grocery shoppers has "dropped to 142 million, compared to 188 million in 2015, continuing a downward trend in three consecutive Census reports. The 24% decrease is due in part to mergers and acquisitions within the industry."
KC's View:
I've always believed that one of the problems with retail loyalty programs, especially in the supermarket business, is that they try to buy customer loyalty with discounts - essentially, they become electronic coupon programs.

Retailers ought to spend more time trying to figure out how to use such programs to demonstrate their loyalty to shoppers. Especially now, at a time of increased competition from a wide variety of angles, it is critical for retailers to figure out how to do this. For most, it cannot just be about price.