Membership in U.S. loyalty rewards programs has reached 1.808 billion. The adjusted total represents a 24% growth from the 1.3 billion tally in COLLOQUY’s last loyalty marketing industry census, published two years ago in 2007. The 2009 census covers three industry segments not included in the 2007 version: Car Rentals, Cruise Lines and Mass Merchandisers. If these new industries are removed, the adjusted 2009 U.S. census total stands at 1.673 billion. To properly compute growth trends, COLLOQUY used the adjusted 2009 membership total as its data point.
COLLOQUY’s 2009 updated measurement of the scope of U.S. loyalty marketing shows the average U.S. household has signed up for 14.1 loyalty programs but actively participates in only 6.2 of them. The corresponding numbers in 2007 were 12 and 4.7.
A loyalty marketing program recognizes and rewards the best customers of a business. COLLOQUY’s census tabulates program memberships, not unique individuals. COLLOQUY pegs the number of active memberships in U.S. loyalty programs at 792.8 million – a number that the study’s authors characterize as “one of the worst-kept dirty secrets of the industry.”
Definitions of active memberships vary from company to company; but a typical example is a member that has at least one instance of activity, such as earning points on a purchase or redeeming for a reward, within a 12-month period. The 792.8 million number means the rate of active membership is relatively flat at 43.8%, compared to 39.5% in 2007.
Given the bursting of the credit bubble, the recession and pressure to control program costs, loyalty marketers must turn to growing program value, not the size of their membership base. Conditions are ripe for marketers to use loyalty data across the enterprise, enhance value propositions and adopt innovative loyalty models such as coalitions, as they seek to revive lapsed members and turn engaged members into profitable, loyal customers.
Other industries covered in the 2009 census include Airlines, Drug Stores, Department Stores, Financial Services, Fuel Convenience, Gaming, Grocery, Hotel, Restaurant, Specialty Retail and Other.
U.S. loyalty program memberships ranked by industry are as follows (in millions):
* Financial Services — 422.0
* Airline — 277.4
* Specialty Retail — 191.3
* Hotel — 161.8
* Grocery — 153.3
* Mass Merchants — 124.8
* Gaming — 106.0
* Dept. Stores — 92.8
* Drug Stores — 73.9
* Fuel Convenience — 51.2
* Restaurant — 13.7
* Car Rental and Cruises — 10.7
* Other — 127.9
If you want to learn more about the results of this study, make sure you check out the webinar cosponsored by Direct Marketing Association and COLLOQUY on June 25, 2009.