Three-quarters of Brits are loyalty card-holders - But be wary

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Three-quarters of Brits are loyalty card-holders - But be wary of younger customers


Building customer loyalty is not easy, as we discussed in DMA’s Customer Engagement: How to win trust and loyalty study.

On one side there are the changing expectations and channels customers use to engage with brands. On the other, the concept of “customer loyalty”, which requires consistency and continuity in order to create a positive emotional customer experience.

“What the British think of loyalty” is the latest YouGov and Mando-Connect report about Britons and loyalty programmes.

Goodwill between the two are still alive, as the data reveals. Indeed, three quarters of the UK population are members of a loyalty programme, with women leading the loyalty charge (84% compared to 70% of men).

There are only a few dissident voices: one in six Brits has never subscribed to a loyalty programme (21% of men).

Who are they loyal to?

Currently the loyalty scene is dominated by a few sectors:

  • Supermarkets (65%)
  • Pharmacies (37%)
  • Retailers – both physical and online stores (30%)
  • Restaurants and coffee shops (25%)

UK shoppers can definitely see the bright side of loyalty schemes: seven in ten rate these programmes as a valuable way to reward customers and three in five believe they are a key element of any brand offer.

Turning words into deeds, 47% of the consumers using loyalty programmes spend more with that specific brand and 38% are more likely to recommend that brand to others. Also, 28% say that they feel “emotionally connected” with the brand: in short, loyalty schemes are a good tool for businesses’ income and image.

The research also explored what Brits desire in exchange for their loyalty: the majority of loyalty programme members (55%) prefer to be rewarded by partner brands, while only 18% look for better services and 6% want to be part of a community.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. As Amelia Brophy, UK Head of Data Products at YouGov said: “Problems may lie ahead – with notably fewer young people – particularly 18-24 year-old men – being members. While this might not pose too much of a challenge at the moment, it could in the future.

“Unless brands can do something to get in front of them more effectively and win them over – such as offering discounts or experiences with other retailers and brands – loyalty programmes could end up being seen as something only for older people and women.”

Indeed, the research suggests that only 61% of young people currently belong to a loyalty scheme, a number that gets even smaller looking at the young male population (54%).

In conclusion, as Charlie Hills, Managing Director & Head of Strategy at Mando-Connect, stated: “Loyalty programmes are going through a period of great change, driven by rising consumer expectations, exponential leaps in technical capabilities and increased scrutiny and attention from senior marketers.” However, businesses should not be hasty, as the young generation - in other words, future customers - are hard work and it is time to focus on them.

To read more about Amelia Brophy's and Charlie Hills' interview, visit:

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