Loyalty cards and similar programs offer more than just recognition of consumer purchasing habits. They provide economic benefits for businesses and savings for shoppers. Accenture reports that about 90% of companies have a loyalty program in place, whether they are large chains or small independents. These incentives may range from discounts on gas for spending money on groceries, free products after a certain number of purchases, or even free spa treatments after meeting a specific requirement.
Forrester Research states that more Americans are joining loyalty programs, with 89% of U.S. adults participating in at least one program this year compared to 86% in 2022. Analyst Mary Pilecki attributes this increase to inflation and consumers’ desire to save money. She also mentions that customers are demanding more from their loyalty programs. Sports Basement, a Bay Area retailer, has seen success with its Basementeer program, where customers pay a one-time fee of $25 to receive discounts on all purchases, including sale items. The company shares 10% of its profits from Basementeer memberships with local charities, amounting to over $1 million in donations last year.
Bag O’ Crab Restaurant allows each franchise owner to implement their own loyalty program. In North Bay, customers can earn points for each payment made at various locations. The program is free to join and points can be exchanged for menu items. Calistoga Depot in Napa Valley has recently transitioned from punch cards to an electronic system. Customers earn points for every purchase and can redeem them for barista drinks and sandwiches. These programs aim to show appreciation to local customers.
Major hoteliers, such as the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, have been offering loyalty rewards programs for years. The Fairmont program, called ALL (Accor Live Limitless), allows members to earn points on various charges, not just at the Fairmont facility. Accor partners with multiple airlines, allowing members to earn and use points as frequent flyer miles. Rental car companies and car dealerships have also introduced loyalty programs to incentivize customer loyalty.
The evolution of loyalty programs is evident as traditional plastic cards and punch cards have become less common. Instead, businesses are turning to electronic systems that track program participation using phone numbers or apps. This shift allows for easier tracking and greater convenience for both businesses and customers.