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Millennials Want Loyalty Programs to Be Fun, Rewarding: Colloquy

When it comes to loyalty marketing and customer rewards programs, Millennials just want to have fun, so finds results of a nationwide survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers by Cincinnati-based Colloquy, a leading provider of loyalty marketing research, publishing and education.

When asked to define the word that best describes their participation in a customer rewards program, "fun" was deemed to be most important for 34 percent of 18- to 34-year-old Millennials. By comparison, 26 percent of the general population (18 to 65 years and over) chose the word "fun," while 66 percent of the general population cited “economical” as best describing their loyalty program participation versus 56 percent of Millennials

The fun-versus-economical results are just two highlights from a larger set of survey findings that tell marketers that Millennials are a different breed when it comes to their engagement with a brand via a rewards program.

Among other survey results that Colloquy says set Millennials apart when it comes to loyalty programs:

  • 63 percent of Millennials said they had joined a program within the past year, versus 55 percent of the general population, a 13 percent difference.
  • 25 percent of Millennials said they joined a program in the past year because it offered access to members-only events, versus 16 percent of the general population, a 36 percent difference.
  • 40 percent of Millennials said they joined a program for access to members-only sales, products and services, versus 33 percent of the general population, an 18 percent difference.
  • 63 percent of Millennials said it’s important that their loyalty program participation supports lifestyle preferences such as wellness programs, sustainability efforts or a charity, versus 53 percent of Gen Xers (35-50) and 46 percent of Baby Boomers (51 and over), differences of 16 percent and 27 percent,  respectively.

“Millennials aren’t simply you in a time warp," said Colloquy Research Director Jeff Berry. “Yes, you were once their age, but that doesn’t mean you understand their needs. Millennials have dramatically different ideas about consumerism and loyalty than other demographics,” he said.

Berry’s tip for loyalty marketers: “Prioritize experiences over economic gains, because millennials love to try new things. And gamify everything.”

Other key survey findings from Colloquy, an independently operated division of LoyaltyOne, found 49 percent of Millennials stopped using a loyalty program after receiving irrelevant communications compared to 37 percent of the general population, a 24 percent difference; and 18 percent of Millennials stopped participating in a program because it lacked a smartphone app, compared to 13 percent of the general population, a 33 percent difference.

Moreover, a little more than one-quarter of Millennials (27 percent) continued their participation in a loyalty program because it featured a competitive game, or a social element such as badges, leaderboards or communities. By comparison, just 7 percent of Baby Boomers stayed with a program for those reasons, representing a gap of 74 percent.

Finally, 42 percent of Millennials continue to participate in a program because it has a mobile payment option, while just 15 percent of Baby Boomers said the same, a 64 percent difference. 

The survey-based revelations about U.S. Millennial attitudes and preferences are part of a larger Colloquy report on loyalty program effectiveness. "Customer Loyalty in 2015 & Beyond: Are You Wasting Your Money?" is available for free download.

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