What's the future of Loyalty Programs? Download Loyalty Trends 2021/2022 report

"Welcome to the Loyalty Trends 2021/2022 report, presenting research on existing and upcoming trends in Customer Loyalty Marketing. This report was created to inspire you with insights and predictions for the Loyalty Industry. We hope that it will help you create a better marketing strategy for winning customers’ loyalty and growing your business. I want to thank every Loyalty Professional who helped us prepare the report and wish everyone a good read."

Karl Bzik, co-founder of Open Loyalty system

Karl Bzik, Co-founder of Open Loyalty

What will you learn from the loyalty report?

The report will answer some pertinent questions:

  • What goals and challenges do loyalty professionals see? 
  • What are the most significant trends in loyalty marketing in the long and short term? 
  • What are the most common areas for investments? 
  • What are the predictions for the future of the loyalty programs?

The first part of the report refers to the results of the survey and shows how trends have changed +/- comparing to last year. The second part contains commentary from numerous experts on existing challenges and predictions for the loyalty industry.

Read the executive summary below.

Who are the loyalty experts behind the report?

The insights in the report come from 112 experts from all over the world, including multi-industry loyalty program consultants and loyalty marketers working for single brands.

The industrial experience of the responders covers companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Uber, British Airways, Disney, BP, Shell, Ikea, Walgreens, Red Bull, P&G, Tesco, GAP, Lego, Marriott and many more. 

See what experts say.


What are the key findings for customer loyalty trends?

Challenges in 2021

Improving overall customer lifetime value, acquiring new customers, lowering customer churn, and generating more revenue for the brand are the most common objectives for loyalty marketers. Many businesses had to reshape their loyalty programs and are now recovering from the negative impact of the lockdowns.
A deep dive into the research shows that, compared to the previous year, the general objectives didn’t change a lot. 

Many loyalty experts are struggling with limited resources because marketing budgets were cut. COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digitalization and e-commerce, and that provided new opportunities.

Many marketing campaigns needed to be rethought and adapted to respond to new buying patterns. By choice or by force, loyalty programs had to evolve. Having a well-organized and cost-efficient marketing plan became a priority for many businesses.

Loyalty program trends matrix

The graph shows the importance of trends from two angles: the biggest impact on customer loyalty marketing in 2-3 years and trends with the biggest urgency in terms of investment in 2021.

Loyalty Program Trends 2021/2022

Trends for upcoming 2-3 years

Mobile payments, paid memberships, predictive analytics, and gamification were identified as trends that will have the biggest impact on loyalty marketing in two to three years. The data indicates that it’s very possible that we’ll soon see more and more cases where the boundaries between payment and loyalty are blurred. Getting actionable insights and predicting customers’ behavior stays on the top of the list.

Most loyalty professionals recognize mobile applications and marketing automation as the most important areas of investment in the short term. For many retailers, co-promotions with partners and the introduction of advanced business intelligence are among the important upcoming investments for 2021.

Having these trends in mind, we can expect that loyalty programs will move closer to the buying process and become responsible for providing a personalized and consistent experience across all touchpoints. On top of that, with third-party data being phased out, loyalty programs will become the main tool for collecting zero-party data.

Loyalty managers are also looking for inspiration from thought leaders like Amazon, Nike, Sephora, Zalando, REI, Marriott, IKEA, Target, Starbucks, McDonald's, Disney, or Tesco.

The future of customer loyalty programs

The pandemic increased the need for constant shopping pattern analysis and making actionable insights based on them. The ability to implement quick changes in the communication and shape of the loyalty program is the key to success.

Building a solid data-driven base is still one of the main focuses for most marketers. With the end of third-party data, data compliance is becoming important now more than ever. For many businesses, loyalty programs will become a strategic asset and the main source of customer data.

The predictable future of loyalty programs lies in hyper-personalization and the frictionless omnichannel customer experiences at every touchpoint. Going outside of typical loyalty mechanics and the deeper integration of loyalty programs with the payment process might be the next reasonable steps for many brands.

What experts say?

While working on the Loyalty Program Trends report, we asked top loyalty professionals about their thoughts and predictions for the future of loyalty programs. You can read some of them here.

Alexander Süßel

Digital Loyalty Consultant at AS-auf-Zeit

What challenges do you see in Loyalty Marketing for 2021?

Lockdowns and changing market conditions will certainly keep us busy for some time to come. We need to find answers here. In loyalty marketing, it can be seen that the discipline has great strategic importance and is always given space. It is important to understand the customer well in order to be relevant and to be perceived as a true partner. Here, it will now be more and more about meshing with the digital world. In my view, the combination of payment and loyalty is becoming increasingly important. The same applies to personalization in customer communication. Be relevant, make it easy and convenient for your customers, and you will be one of the winners.

How do you see the future of Loyalty Programs in 2-3 years?

Loyalty marketing is becoming increasingly important in business strategy and is also a competitive differentiator. I think the demand for loyalty has just started to gain momentum. From my point of view, important topics are subscription/paid loyalty, community building, deep integration between online and offline (omnichannel loyalty). Not to forget the changed situation with the decline of 3rd party cookies, will prepare a strong time for the loyalty.

Amanda Cromhout

Founder & CEO at Truth

What challenges do you see in Loyalty Marketing for 2021?

One of the main challenges of 2021 Marketing sits in how marketers manage the changing landscape of data compliance and consumers' views towards usage of their personal data. Loyalty programs enable a brand-consumer relationship to develop with permissions, rather than restricted activities due to cookie-less environments and data regulation. Customer data regulation is good for the responsible brands which know how to ensure a better experience for their clients.

How do you see the future of Loyalty Programs in 2-3 years?

We see loyalty programmes being fully integrated into consumers' payment processes from a technology point of view. Digitisation needs to enable enhanced simplicity of earning and redeeming rewards in a seamless experience. Instant rewards for ad hoc activities or simply as surprise & delight will play an ever more critical role for loyalty members.




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