R3 Marketing and Leger have revealed the results of the 4th edition of LoyauT : the most complete annual study on trends and performance of loyalty programs in Quebec and Canada.

Back after two years, the LoyauT ranking presents the 10 best loyalty programs in Canada.

The 10 best companies’ ranking isn’t surprising as it includes businesses with high-frequency visits. Yet, we note the arrival of Irving.

Following its loyalty program’s improvements, in Quebec and Ontario, Irving Rewards finds itself with the highest ranking, dethroning Starbucks, which held the position throughout 2017 and 2018.

The Starbucks Rewards program still is among the leaders of the class, close to programs such as SAQ Inspire, metro&moi and PC Optimum.

The pandemic’s impact

COVID-19 will have considerably impacted these loyalty programs, their usage and customers’ behaviours. As a whole, loyalty programs have seen their LoyauT score decrease. On average, we see a 7.2 points, or 13% drop.

Unsurprisingly, the programs that performed best this year were those in sectors said to be essentials : supermarkets, pharmacies, gas and speciality food service stores ( like SAQ).

Their general LoyauT score and the one specific to behaviour indexes turn out to be less disturbed compared to other sectors. Fashion and beauty programs, for instance, have seen a 14.6 points drop on their behaviour index, compared to 2018.

« While everyone was closed, essential businesses were still open and answering consumers’ needs. It is hard to maintain a fashion or beauty program when shopping malls are closed », Hans Laroche, associate, R3 Marketing, explains.

The LoyauT study also allows us to find that, for some sectors like food provision, pharmacy or hardware, visit frequency, in general, has diminished (between 30 and 40%) but the average shopping cart has increased.

Facing the difficulties linked to the pandemic (temporary closures, inventory shortages, distancing, waiting lines, etc), several retailers had to adjust in order to discourage in-store visits.

Programs’ members have also felt the impact of this adaptation : 40% say they observed fewer and less generous promotional offers.

Among other striking points, note that half of members (53%) say they favour local businesses and retailers during the pandemic.

Also, 67% of members prefer receiving their communications once a week, or more. Personalised offers based on purchase history have become more and more important : 55% of members say they prefer this type of offer.

Moreover, the use of smartphones to consult programs’ elements is increasing. On average, 42% of members primarily use their smartphone. This statistic goes up to 80% in one such program.

26% of 18-34 year old members always or most of the time participate in promotional offers or gamification activities.

The Amazon Prime program is still improving. In 2018, the program accounted for 16% of members in Quebec; today, it accounts for 27%.

Finally, two strategies improve the performance of a loyalty program : the adding of a Premium status and « co-branded » credit card usage (more popular in the English part of Canada).

Methodology :

The LoyauT score is calculated from 3 key indexes : recommandation (6%), engagement (37%) and behaviour (57%).

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