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Why a mobile loyalty program is imperative when selling to millennials

By Derek Marley

If you are a marketer who reads industry press, you know the benefits of loyalty programs. While most articles note great loyalty programs can impact your business, less is discussed about how mobile loyalty programs can benefit your business among millennials.

Edging out baby boomers as the largest generation, millennials are maximizing their purchasing power by controlling $600 billion in annual spending, which is why – unless your business skews toward an older demographic – you should tailor your marketing efforts, especially your loyalty program, to millennial customers.

Millennial make or break
According to a recent survey, 66 percent of millennials would switch brands and change where they buy to get more loyalty rewards. Sixty-six percent also stated they would not be loyal to a company without a good loyalty program.

Without offering a loyalty program, millennials might not choose your business at all.

Another report found that 30 percent of 20- to 40-year-olds are more likely to purchase due to loyalty programs, meaning that among this group, a loyalty program is important to both getting and keeping their business.

Given this, if your business hopes to connect with millennials, a loyalty program must be an important part of the marketing mix. But before you print punch cards, you should consider the following:

Millennials shop more
Many millennials online shop, with 45 percent spending more than an hour per day on retail-oriented Web sites.

What is interesting is that in addition to shopping more online, millennials shop, in general, more than other generations: half of millennial women shop twice a month versus just over a third of all others.

Considering their online shopping behavior and purchasing power, it makes sense that loyalty programs include an online component where millennials are rewarded based on where they shop, which is increasingly on their mobile phones.

Millennials shop mobile
Mobile technology has become a ubiquitous part of the shopping experience.

In a recent survey, 97 percent of millennials said they used their smartphones at least sometimes when shopping in-store.

Key activities that millennials conduct on their smartphones include comparing prices in-store (60 percent) and finding coupons and offers (56 percent).

With increased use of mobile technology, savvy marketers are connecting with customers during this in-store screen time through branded applications and mobile loyalty programs.

Seventy-one percent of millennials are willing to share their location for loyalty offers or deals, and 52 percent are open to receiving text messages for incentives, making them the perfect audience for location-based offerings.

So what does it mean?
Given that millennials consider loyalty programs important to their purchase decisions, shop online more than others and consider smartphones an integral part of the shopping experience, if a business wants to connect with millennials, a smartphone-based loyalty program should be offered.

Given the intimacy of the medium and the ability to craft customized messaging and offers, the smartphone, via a mobile loyalty program, is the perfect place to connect with the so-called “connected generation.”

Derek Marley is product consultant at Perka, a First Data Corp. company based in Portland, OR. Reach him at [email protected].