gender and loyalty

Who’s more engaged in loyalty programs? Who’s more likely to join your program? Men or women? Knowing the answer to this question can have a big impact on your loyalty program.

Loyalty Programs and Gender

At times, the loyalty landscape can be a confusing intersection of programs, people and platforms – furthermore, discerning what drives gender-specific loyalty presents its own set of unique challenges for marketers. Just as old stereotypes are reinforced, new insights are gleaned too.

Last month Club Carlson, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s loyalty program, conducted a survey which found that men are 33% more likely than women to join a hotel loyalty program.

Conversely, a study by marketing company Directivity and digital agency Citrus, found that Australian women are more likely to become members of loyalty programs than men (93% versus 82%).

The latter study also found that women are members of more programs, five, compared to three for men.

For loyalty marketers, these findings should trigger the following questions:

“Are men or women more likely to join my loyalty program, which gender is more engaged, why and what am I going to do about it?”

These seemingly contradictory studies actually stem from a 2012 academic article, Make me special: Gender differences in consumers’ responses to loyalty programs. In it, researchers found that men were more attracted to loyalty program status, assuming that status is plainly viewable to other men (read: bragging rights) whereas women preferentially chose loyalty programs where personalization was key, but done so in a private manner. Could this suggest that women like to avoid direct outward competition with other women – at least within the loyalty space?

We find these takeaways fascinating as they delve deep into the human psyche, showing how behaviors impact decisions that loyalty marketers must be aware of.

Successful loyalty programs must create behavioral motivators that speak to our biologically hard-wired gender tendencies. Both men and women, in subtly different ways, exhibit dominance hierarchies. In part, this is the biology behind our ‘competitive spirit.’

Equally important is that, by capturing a wealth of consumer metrics (thanks to today’s advanced analytical technology), well-executed loyalty programs can actually get at the heart of what motivates gender loyalty, so that marketers can tailor their programs accordingly and for maximum relevance.

As the age of loyalty aggregation and partnerships matures, along with whole marketplaces to buy, share and redeem points across multiple loyalty program providers and vendors, the old “battle of the sexes” may finally end in a draw – being replaced with a loyalty eco-system that is customized and personalized for every program member, regardless of gender.

What do you think? Have you found a difference between men and women in your loyalty program? Has this helped your marketing efforts, or hindered?