Across both Canada and the US, the loyalty program market is highly saturated with nine out of 10 consumers in both regions saying they participate in these programs. However, Canadians appear to be more frustrated with loyalty programs, especially when it comes to the length of time it takes to earn rewards.

Marketplace shifts over the past year or so may be fueling these frustrations as one of Canada’s oldest and biggest loyalty programs, Air Miles, made changes to their policies as a result of the Ontario government making it illegal for unused loyalty points to expire based on the passage of time. While this is just one example, high membership rates of the program combined with the visibility of this case undoubtedly leaves an impression in the minds of consumers. As such, Canadian consumers likely hold a heightened alertness to loyalty points expiring.

Catering to Canadians with customization

Given that earning points is now more challenging, Canadian consumers show a greater inclination to seek reward redemption options that are more flexible and, ultimately, meaningful. Specifically, Canadians show a heightened interest in being able to use their points at multiple retailers, indicating a higher penchant for personalized rewards.

A positive for retailers in Canada, investments in customizing rewards for Canadian consumers should yield a more dedicated and loyal consumer base than the same efforts in the US. Canadians are keener to shop at retailers where they participate in loyalty programs than their American counterparts, and also show a greater inclination to spend more at particular retailers in order to take advantage of loyalty programs. To this end, retailers have the potential to guide Canadian consumers toward products as they show more openness to purchasing specific products in order to take advantage of loyalty program deals than Americans.

Given that Canadians don’t want generic rewards, finding ways to make the points earning process quicker and more flexible in terms of rewards redemption will help elevate the sense of value gained from participating in such programs. What’s more, Canadians may be leaning more heavily on loyalty programs at the moment given that they are feeling the pressures of a slower economy relative to the US.

Carol Wong-Li is a Senior Lifestyle and Leisure Analyst at Mintel, researching and writing reports on the Canadian lifestyle and leisure industries. She incorporates her background in advertising and brand tracking to deliver actionable insights. Carol holds a Master of Arts in Sociology, specializing in Canadian Ethnic Relations from the University of Calgary.

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