Understanding the Loyalty Landscape in Europe

Discover the top 4 takeaways from Mando-Connect’s report about the state of European loyalty programs in this comprehensive article full of statistics.

A cover for Antavo’s article about its guest post on loyalty programs in Europe.

In 2023 Europeans are facing very real and very difficult challenges – from humanitarian catastrophes, cost of living crises, and high inflation to the war in Ukraine and political instability across many countries. In this context, loyalty marketers need to anticipate members’ needs more than ever. Loyalty programs in Europe have an important role to play in maintaining and building meaningful customer relationships for the long term. Loyalty marketers must look out, they must look ahead, and they must look to others for industry insight and inspiration.

Analysing the State of Loyalty Programs in Europe

It is this realisation that drove Mando-Connect to work with YouGov, to develop the first pan-European white paper, “Understanding Loyalty in Europe”, which explores loyalty membership, appeal and impact across 24 European countries. The research was then overlaid with case studies and commentary from seven in-market experts and three loyalty program leads. It was then rounded out with the introduction of the new Loyalty Gauge™ – a unique measure that enables Mando-Connect to score and rank loyalty engagement per country, based on program membership, appeal, and impact data.  

Mando-Connect loyalty report main image, title Understanding Loyalty in Europe
For a complete look at the state of loyalty programs in Europe, check out the full report — it includes commentary from Zsuzsa Kecsmar, Chief Strategy Officer & Co-founder of Antavo.

So, based on this unique new research, what was learned about the loyalty landscape in Europe? There are five key insights to share…

1. Most Europeans are members of loyalty programs

On average, across the 24 European countries we researched, 61.3% of adults are members of at least one loyalty program. The top five markets for loyalty program membership are:

  • Norway with 85.7% membership
  • Sweden with 83.2% membership
  • Great Britain with 77.2% membership
  • Ireland with 75.4% membership
  • Austria with 72.6% membership

The majority of markets explored have between 50% and 75% program membership.

Only four countries out of the 24 studied had less than 50% membership:

  • Portugal with 49.6% membership
  • Bulgaria with 39.2% membership
  • Romania with 33.3% membership
  • Turkey with 31.3% membership

The reasons for the variation in loyalty membership are complex and multi-faceted — there is no single answer that influences the level of membership in a country. A key factor that seems to influence membership is the maturity of loyalty marketing in the country — how long loyalty programs have been established, how many programs there are, and the level of investment of those programs in member acquisition. 

Customer attitudes and behaviours towards loyalty programs also play a role, though there is no direct correlation between membership and the appeal of loyalty programs in Europe. Digital adoption might also play a part, as might retail structures in the countries. There is a lot more to discover in this space!

Mando-Connect’s report statistic image about the percentage of adults who are a member of at least one loyalty program. 
A lot of aspects can influence the membership rates in a country: the maturity of loyalty marketing, general customer attitudes, and digital adoption.

2. Loyalty programs are very appealing 

The majority of adults are big fans of loyalty programs. They find them appealing and join each time they are given a chance to. Many actually think that every brand should have a loyalty program! On average, across the 24 markets researched:

  • 56% of adults think loyalty programs are a great way to reward their customers. 
  • 42% of adults believe that every brand should offer a loyalty program. 
  • 35% join loyalty programs every time they are given the opportunity to do so. 

It’s fantastic for loyalty marketers everywhere that over 50% of people across the 24 European markets think that loyalty programs are a great way to reward customers. This kind of positivity should be celebrated!

Mando-Connect’s report statistic image about loyalty appeal across 24 European Markets.
It is no surprise that in such a sophisticated loyalty region, the appeal of loyalty programs in Europe is this high. 

3. Loyalty programs have a very positive impact on functional and emotional metrics

On average, across the 24 analysed markets, the impact of loyalty programs in Europe in terms of membership is very positive. When someone’s a member of a brand’s loyalty program:

  • 43% say it makes them more loyal
  • 36% say they are more likely to recommend the brand
  • 33% feel more emotionally connected 
  • 29% will spend more 

These impact metrics show what loyalty marketers know everywhere — if you get your loyalty program right the impact on your brand, your customers and your bottom line will be very positive — often significantly more than other marketing disciplines. 

Mando-Connect’s report statistic image about loyalty having a positive affect. 
Loyalty programs can indeed drive a variety of KPIs and may even act as revenue centers. 

4. The new Loyalty Gauge™ shows which markets are the most engaged and which are the least

The Loyalty Gauge™ score is a new loyalty metric, developed by Mando-Connect, that measures and scores loyalty engagement per country across Europe — based on the membership, appeal, and impact of loyalty programs in that country.

It shows that the three most engaged loyalty markets are:

  • Ireland
  • Poland
  • Great Britain

The three least engaged loyalty markets are:

  • The Netherlands
  • Turkey
  • Denmark

As with membership, successful loyalty engagement is driven by multiple factors. One of the most important factors that drives high loyalty engagement is that the programs in each market are designed to win the hearts and minds of wallets of their respective population — in a contextually and culturally relevant way. 

Mando-Connect’s report statistic image about the net loyalty gauge scores. 
It’s important to track and measure customer loyalty and engagement in unique manners to better understand what drives customers toward a brand.

Loyalty Programs Are Cornerstones in European Marketing

What is very apparent from this research is that loyalty programs matter. They are big, they are appealing and they have a significant positive impact across emotional and functional metrics.

The key next step is for loyalty marketers to use this data to inform their decisions and optimise their approach. If you are in a high engagement market, but your membership, appeal or impact is low, what are you getting wrong? Which successful programs can you learn from in your market?

If you are in a low-engagement market, you have a big opportunity to innovate, differentiate, lead the way, and drive high loyalty engagement. Look outside at other markets where loyalty is more successful, and be inspired by the programs operating there — what can you learn? How can you experiment? What can you try?

Check out Antavo’s Mission Loyalty video for trends and insights on how to boost your loyalty program’s metrics, like the adoption of the program.

Taking the Next Step in Your Loyalty Strategy

What this research shows above all else is that there is significant variation by country and, within each of those countries, there are wonderful and inspiring programs to learn from. Connection is key! Get out there — look beyond your brand, sector, and country to learn!

Mando-Connect’s white paper provides invaluable insight and inspiration for loyalty marketers who want to take a pan-European view of the loyalty landscape. The rich data sets provide a solid basis on which to make decisions and plan actionable strategies — and the case studies and commentary that overlay that data bring the story of loyalty across Europe to life. 

Mando-Connect specialise in helping programs leverage the power of data and partnerships to create brilliant loyalty solutions and rewards that work. Visit Mando-Connect’s website to download your copy of the white paper and be inspired by what you can achieve.

If you’re interested in learning more about loyalty programs from a technology perspective or you’re curious how you can launch / revamp one, our loyalty experts are more than happy to strike up a conversation. Get the conversation started by sending us an RFP or booking a demo.

Still in the early steps of developing the concept for your loyalty program? Download our handy concept planning worksheet and use it to ensure that you’re taking all the necessary steps.

Headshot of Charlie Hills MD & Head of Strategy at Mando-Connect

Charlie Hills

MD & Head of Strategy at Mando-Connect Charlie Hills co-founded and leads WPP’s loyalty & partnerships agency, Mando-Connect, and has over 20 years of industry experience. She is very passionate about developing actionable insight for the loyalty industry – she is the author of “Understanding Loyalty in Europe” and the “What Brits Want…” series of white papers on loyalty and promotions, an Editor at Large for the Wise Marketer, a member of the faculty of the Loyalty Academy and regularly contributes to loyalty press, events, and podcasts.

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