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Maritz Loyalty Marketing unveiled the results of a comprehensive study into U.S. consumer loyalty programs, including what American consumers consider to be the highest-rated programs. The full-service North American Loyalty Marketing agency is publishing the first Maritz Loyalty Report: U.S. Edition, which helps marketers understand the motivators of brand loyalty across six key industries.

The following programs rated highest in terms of overall satisfaction within each respective category in the report:

  • Financial Services: Chase Ultimate Rewards (84 percent)
  • Entertainment: Carmike Cinemas Rewards (79 percent)
  • Retail Programs: Kohl's Rewards (73 percent)
  • Hospitality/Hotel: IHG Priority Club Rewards (67 percent)
  • Grocery: Kroger Rewards (83 percent)
  • Airlines: Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards (58 percent)

The Maritz Loyalty Report results suggest that 71 percent of members would join more loyalty programs, even though the average member is already enrolled in 7.4 programs. The report also found that members are only actively participating in 63 percent of the programs in which they are enrolled.

"Our study revealed that 47 percent of members have stopped participating in one or more programs in the past year," said Scott Robinson, senior director of loyalty consulting for Maritz Loyalty Marketing. "This number is disconcerting for program operators, yet of even greater concern is that only 7 percent of these defecting customers actively defect—meaning, they actually formally request to leave a loyalty program. Given the high percentage of passive defection, it is paramount that loyalty marketers proactively identify the early warning signs of disengaged members."

Overall, 65 percent of members are satisfied with the loyalty programs in which they participate. The Maritz Loyalty Report also includes customer ratings on more than 35 program attributes. Some of those attributes, also considered key drivers of satisfaction, include:

  • Program values: pride of membership, program uniqueness, meeting customer needs, etc.
  • Program mechanics: ability to earn and redeem points, quality of rewards, etc.
  • Ability to interact with programs: website, mobile, customer support, etc.
  • Program innovation: program freshness, access to exclusive events, personalized experiences, etc.
  • Communications from programs: means, relevance and frequency of communications, etc.

Top programs rate similarly on many of these attributes, and the top program tends to discern itself from next-best programs by a higher rating on only one key attribute. In some program categories, such as retail loyalty and airline loyalty, top-rated programs and next-highest rated programs score similarly on all attributes. In these competitive categories, the attribute on which the highest-rated program discerns itself from next-highest rated programs is a secondary and differentiating driver.

"The implication for program operators," Robinson said, "is that in order to be competitive, especially in categories with many largely undifferentiated programs, it is essential for programs to deliver effectively on both the key drivers of satisfaction and also the secondary drivers of satisfaction."

Surveying more than 6,000 loyalty program members, the Maritz Loyalty Report: U.S. Edition examines customer trends and sentiments related to all facets of loyalty programs, including behaviors, communications, privacy, personal values and satisfaction. For additional data, industry-wide rankings and access to the full executive summary, visit