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Exploring the Diverse World of Loyalty Programs and Their Strategic Significance

Updated: Sep 14, 2023


When the term "loyalty programs" is mentioned, images of points, discounts, or exclusive offers may come to mind. However, loyalty programs encompass a rich tapestry of strategies that extend beyond these conventional notions. In the realm of loyalty programs, there is a fascinating array of types, each with its own distinct strengths and advantages.

In this enlightening blog post, we delve into five commonly used loyalty program types, exploring their unique attributes and their potential synergies when used in tandem.

1. Tiered Loyalty Programs:

Tiered loyalty programs, also known as "tired loyalty programs," distinguish themselves by assigning different levels or tiers (e.g., Silver, Gold, Platinum) to members, each offering progressively more valuable rewards. This structure motivates customers to climb the loyalty ladder, aligning their spending with their tier objectives.

Studies reveal that nearly two-thirds of customers adjust their buying behaviors to optimize loyalty points, making tiered loyalty programs highly profitable for businesses. Prominent examples of tiered loyalty programs include Total Tools' Insider Rewards and American Airlines' Advantage Program.

2. Subscription-Based Loyalty Programs:

Subscription-based loyalty programs, also known as premium loyalty programs, require members to pay an upfront or recurring fee to gain access to exclusive benefits. These programs foster customer retention over a specified period and often result in increased sales.

Research by McKinsey indicates that members of subscription-based loyalty programs are 60% more likely to make purchases compared to their counterparts in free loyalty programs. Amazon Prime and CVS Pharmacy's CVS CarePass exemplify the success of subscription-based loyalty programs.

3. Points-Based Loyalty Programs:

Points-based loyalty programs reward members with points for various activities, including purchases, engagement, and feedback. Members can accumulate these points and redeem them for discounts or products, making this one of the most prevalent and universally understood loyalty program types.

Studies show that a majority of internet users find earning loyalty points and rewards to be a gratifying aspect of their shopping experience. Notably, seven out of ten customers base their brand choices on their ability to earn rewards program points. Chipotle Rewards, the point-based loyalty program of Chipotle, is a notable example.

4. Value-Based Loyalty Programs:

Value-based loyalty programs establish a deeper connection between a brand's values and those of its customers. By pledging to donate a portion of sales to charities aligned with customers' values, these programs resonate with customers seeking brands that share their beliefs.

Research indicates that a substantial portion of customers, particularly millennials and Gen Z, are inclined to join loyalty programs rooted in brand values. Toms Shoes' Toms Rewards, with its mission to provide shoes to underprivileged children, exemplifies the success of value-based loyalty programs.

5. Spend-Based Loyalty Programs:

Spend-based loyalty programs reward members based on the amount they spend with a brand. The more customers spend, the more loyalty points they accrue. This straightforward approach enhances transaction values and reduces customer churn rates.

Sephora's Beauty Insider loyalty program is an illustrative example, featuring tiers such as VIB and Rouge. Members earn points for every dollar spent, with spending thresholds unlocking additional benefits.


Loyalty programs encompass a versatile array of types, each tailored to meet specific business objectives and customer preferences. By strategically implementing these programs, businesses can forge lasting customer relationships, boost sales, and differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace. Understanding the strengths of these loyalty program types allows for the creation of tailored strategies that cater to diverse customer segments, ensuring long-term success and customer loyalty.

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