More than two thirds of Americans who participate in rewards programs expect to save money on holiday shopping this year through redemption of their points and rewards, with the average customer expecting to save about $149 that way, according to a new nationwide study commissioned by Citi Retail Services.
The study also found that about 50% of shoppers use rewards to buy more gifts than they would otherwise without using points, while about 41% said they use their rewards to buy things for themselves, and 26% said they use rewards to buy gifts for someone else they wouldn’t have bought a gift for otherwise.
The average shopper participates in four different rewards programs, and nearly 90% of shoppers plan to utilize those programs during the holidays to either accumulate points or redeem existing ones.
When it comes to the holidays and gift giving, it’s the thought that counts, right? Well, a lot of thought apparently is going into holiday gift buying if shoppers are strategically using rewards points to purchases gifts, or using specific credit cards to help them build up more reward points more quickly. There’s nothing wrong with that — it may assure some of us will get even better presents this year than usual.
Not only do shoppers expect to save an average of almost $150 by shopping with points, but about one in three of those shoppers expect to save $200 or more. That means there must be a lot of shoppers out there with a lot of rewards points piled up, which is all well and good for retailers, because they must have made a lot of purchases to get there. The rewards themselves have become as good as the currency used to accrue them.
The other good news for retailers is that the "loyalty" part of loyalty programs seems to be working: 86% of customers said they are more loyal to the brands where they participate in rewards programs. They also may choose to participate in loyalty and rewards programs with a long-term plan in mind, as 67% of shoppers said they have already taken extra steps to accrue or redeem rewards.
All this strategic thinking about rewards programs makes consumers feel pretty good about themselves, too. In fact, 72% of rewards users said they think they’re smarter holiday shoppers than their peers. Retailers may be getting smarter, too. Seeing that consumers are both opportunistic and judicious about participating in loyalty programs, retailers are starting to rethink them.
For example, Macy's has started including rewards tiers in its program to provide bigger benefits to the shoppers that spend the most, and Amazon has partnered with Hilton Hotels to let the latter's loyalty club members use their points for Amazon purchases. Such advancements make loyalty and rewards programs the gift that keeps on giving for both retailers and their customers (as well as the lucky ones on those customers' gift lists.)