Whitepaper: The Loyalty Evolution

Man shopping on the high street


In 2019 Hawk Incentives commissioned research into consumer trends around loyalty and the success factors behind running popular schemes that promote customer retention and engagement. Our sample is nationally representative of the UK population and examines statistics across the retail, leisure, technology, automotive, travel, financial and utility sectors.

We look at what drives brand loyalty, versus the traits that can deter customers from becoming a brand advocate and explore a variety of mechanisms that are used within the industry.

Right here, right now!

In chapter one we examine the demographics responsible for making Retail the leading sector of loyalty programmes. We also run through consumer motivation to belong to any given scheme, alongside the common de-motivators. Unsurprisingly, concern around data usage is a big factor in how customers now view their interactions with a brand.

A card in the hand…

Chapter two explores how it’s evident that physical plastic is still at the top of the industry. Even with environmental consciousness, 58% of consumers still prefer to hold a card in their hand.

We expand on the challenges that brands face in retaining customer loyalty, in a world where its so easy to switch any account. Then its on to sector specific statistics delving into the possible reasons why each industry is deemed successful or not when it comes to brand advocacy.

Finally, we look at the attributes that drive or diminish loyalty within each sector – unsurprisingly, value for money, or lack thereof, ranks as the biggest turn on and turn off.

Stand and deliver!

Here we look at how consumers prefer to be rewarded, which differs depending on whether the consumer is part of a loyalty scheme or not. Broken down by the demographics and then into the sectors, we present data on which reward mechanisms work best and when they should be distributed. To finish this topic, we shed light on how those who currently don’t engage might be persuaded to do so.

Sector specific: Financial Services

Within the financial services sector its clear that challenger banks are shaking up the industry. There is some resistance though – almost half of people surveyed still choose not to do their banking online, meaning that brick and mortar branches are still very much needed in today’s society. What’s interesting is that the trends around loyalty in other sectors can indicate whether a customer is likely to stay with their bank for the long-haul, or if they’re easily swayed by deals.

We also feature a case study of one particularly successful programme that we’ve managed for a leading bank since 2013. Going into 2020 we continue to push the results higher year on year, proving that a focus on loyalty can really drive customer retention.

What motivates consumers most?

We used the survey opportunity to discover more about our audience and their opinions on things that matter. Time spent on mobile devices was rated as less important than spending time with loved ones and social media was high up on the list of things that consumers would be happy to give up if required.

Environmental concerns are a motivator for many consumers, with a large percentage of respondents suggesting they’d take steps towards being eco-friendlier in their shopping habits, even if it cost more money.

Concluding thoughts

Loyalty matters to UK consumers and will continue to be relevant for the foreseeable future. Its clearly important that businesses understand what makes their audience tick in order to engage with their customers at the right level - consumers need to be nurtured with a meaningful approach and made to feel that they’re considered on an individual basis.

We provide some recommendations in regard to planning acquisition and retention strategies; taking into account the learnings we have presented throughout the report and using our industry expertise.

To understand more and see sector specific statistics relevant to your industry, download the full report using the contact form to your right.

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