Men and women want different things when it comes to loyalty programme rewards

30 October 2018 - 15:58
Pick n Pay's smart shopper is one of the top five “most used” loyalty programmes.
Pick n Pay's smart shopper is one of the top five “most used” loyalty programmes.
Image: Alaister Russell

When it comes to the benefits consumers want from a loyalty programme‚ the biggest differentiator is not race‚ income or age; it's gender - by far.

Men‚ in general‚ are far more interested in status rewards - such as the businessman striding through an airport sporting a backpack with a premium status miles card conspicuously attached - whereas women are more into free gifts‚ unexpected rewards and instant discounts at the till.

The gender gap was highlighted at the launch on Tuesday in Cape Town of the South African Loyalty Landscape Whitepaper 2018 - the most comprehensive‚ annual snapshot of the loyalty programmes in South Africa‚ which saw the Clicks ClubCard extend its lead as the country’s most used loyalty programme.

A collaboration between loyalty consultancy Truth and consumer insights consultancy WhyFive‚ the annual survey - now in its fourth year - revealed that 75% of South African consumers use loyalty programmes‚ down from 79% last year - its first dip since 2015.

The top five “most used” are: Clicks ClubCard‚ Pick n Pay Smart Shopper‚ Dis-Chem Benefit‚ Edcon Thank U and Woolworths WRewards.

Last year Clicks snatched the most-used top spot from Pick n Pay by just 1% point‚ but the margin grew considerably this year: 72% of the 25‚000 respondents - with a joint monthly income of more than R10‚000 - are ClubCard users‚ versus 60% who use Smart Shopper cards.

Interestingly‚ Pick n Pay appears to be ahead of the pack when it comes to creating an emotional connection with their loyalty programme users - they emerged as the most likely to recommend it to others.

And last week PnP’s Smart Shopper was named best loyalty programme in the annual Sunday Times Top Brands Awards.

The retail store brands lead the way‚ particularly Clicks and Dis-Chem‚ both enjoying massive growth.

Women belong to 6.2 loyalty programmes‚ on average‚ with men having signed up to an average of 4.5.

Men are more likely to go for “show off”‚ ego stroking‚ preferential service-type loyalty benefits‚ says Truth CEO Amanda Cromhout - the kind linked to tier-based loyalty programmes favoured by the travel and banking sectors.

“Men at a board meeting will volunteer that they’re on eBucks level 5 or Discovery Diamond‚” she said‚ “whereas women are far less likely to do that."

Only seven of the 28 most-used South African loyalty programmes featured in the survey have tiers‚ with only 12% of respondents saying they joined a loyalty programme to get preferential service via earning enough points to progress to the top tiers.

Tier-based loyalty programmes are far more popular in other countries‚ Cromhout says. “In the US‚ for example‚ every fashion retailer’s loyalty programme has tiering.”

FNB eBucks is still the most used loyalty programme in the banking space‚ clinching the sixth spot overall‚ with 36% of respondents using eBucks.

But overall‚ the most desired loyalty rewards‚ by far‚ are cash back and instant discounts.

“In a tough economy‚ consumers continue to search for monetary value‚” Cromhout says.

“This is evident in the results‚ showing consumers still prefer cash back (73%) and instant discounts (57%) over any form of VIP treatment‚ such as priority queues or exclusive experiences.”

Ultimately‚ she says‚ a loyalty programme alone won’t do it for consumers. “If your products and your pricing are wrong‚ no loyalty programme will fix that.

“It’s just the icing on the cake.”