If you could only keep one loyalty programme, which one would it be?

Pulling out a loyalty card at checkout has become a way of life for South African shoppers, but thanks to lockdown and a complete shift in our shopping habits, the average middle-class adult is now a member of almost 9 different programmes. For the past 6 years, BrandMapp, together with loyalty specialists Truth have published a whitepaper that tracks and measures the impact of these programmes on our everyday consumer lives.

Released in mid-2021, BrandMapp’s consumer insights research uniquely captures the opinions of more than 33 000 South Africans living in households with a R10 000+ monthly income.  While that may be a 30% segment of the population, it’s a group that controls 80% of all consumer spend and by definition, is the group who are fortunate enough to benefit the most from Loyalty programmes that typically operate on the principle of ‘the more you play, the more you earn’.

And while it’s no surprise that the massive retailer programmes, like Pick n Pay Smart Shopper and Clicks Club Card win the ‘most used’ awards, with 80% of all shoppers using these mega-programmes, the 2021 results show a very different picture when consumers were asked a simple question: if you could only keep one loyalty programme, which one would it be?

Financial programmes rule the roost 

Amanda Cromhout, founder of Truth Loyalty says, “We know that ‘cashback’ is the single biggest driver of loyalty for consumers, and what’s fascinating about this ‘most valuable’ filter is that all the banking and financial loyalty programmes come immediately to the fore as the ones their members just can’t live without. You can only pick a programme if you belong to it, so it’s a brilliant way of discovering a ‘hidden secret’. If you consider a fairly elite consumer programme like Investec Rewards, which has a tiny 3% footprint in the market, there just aren’t enough members for it to ever show up on the ‘most used’ radar. But when you ask those members how important the programme is, almost a third of them tick the box, making it the fourth most valued programme of all.”

Brandon de Kock, director of storytelling for BrandMapp goes on to describe why it’s a vital measure in the annual survey. “There’s such a high usage of loyalty programmes in South Africa, that if you look at, say, the Pick n Pay Smart Shopper and the Checkers Xtra Savings user, there’s almost a 70% crossover there, so if you try and compare the two groups, it’s the same people! Being able to identify the real fans means we can really start understanding the differences between these loyalty programmes, and why they are so important.”

The top three programmes in order are FNB eBucks, closely followed by Discovery Vitality and Standard Bank UCount, with FSP programmes making up five of the remaining spots in the Top 10. “It’s just a theory, but I think it has to do with the fact that these consumers enjoy what I call the ‘pure reward’ aspect of loyalty,” says de Kock. “In other words, you don’t have to claim anything, do anything different, or actually do anything. There’s no second movement required. You just swipe your credit card, go about your business and when you log into your rewards account, there’s a pot of usable ‘cash’. Happy eBucks day! FNB arguably set the bar and they’ve been at the top of the podium ever since.”

The relative outlier is Discovery Vitality, but as de Kock explains, there are logical reasons for it ranking so high in its members’ lives. “The Vitality members who seem to squeeze maximum value are the ones who stay fit, go for regular checkups and generally play by a set of rules that’s been medically approved. So Vitality is fascinating because it’s basically rewarding people for doing what they should do! And if you’re one of the fortunate few in the country who can afford medical aid, about 16% of all citizens at last count, you might as well make use of the privilege.”

The full Truth & BrandMapp Loyalty Whitepaper 2021 is freely available for download at https://whyfive.co.za/reports/

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