For the first time, the number of loyalty memberships in the US broke the 2 billion mark with 2.1 billion, up from 1.8 billion in 2009, according to the Colloquy and Swift Exchange 2011 Forecast of U.S. Consumer Loyalty Program Points Value study. The average household has signed up for 18.4 programs, compared with 14.1 programs in 2009. However, of the $48 billion in consumer loyalty reward points dispensed each year, at least one-third ($16 billion) were never cashed in. The study found the average household earned $622 a year in loyalty benefits, but only used $417 of those rewards.
Not shelling out the rewards may be good in the short term, but it also means missed opportunities to engage and strengthen brand ties in consumers’ minds. The study found that the retail industry, although it makes up 40% of all loyalty program memberships, issued $12 billion a year in rewards, while the financial services sector provided $180 billion a year in rewards.