By Retail Doctor Group, in association with Pureprofile


Let’s face it: Aussie shoppers are changing their game. They’re not just looking for a good deal anymore, they’re demanding exceptional experiences. Think about it: have you noticed customers being pickier, more tech-savvy, or wanting more personalized service? 

This shift in shopping habits isn’t a coincidence. It’s a reflection of the times we live in – everything’s a little uncertain right now. This unpredictability is making consumers more cautious and selective with their hard-earned cash. 

And as consumer confidence and perception change accordingly – coupled with the escalating cost of living crisis – how does this affect consumer loyalty? 

TABLE OF CONTENTS 

  • Key Insights From the Customer Loyalty Report
    • To Pay or Not to Pay: Subscription Services Loyalty Sentiment
  • Factors Influencing Customer Loyalty Behaviour
    • Most Important Factors in a Loyalty Program
    • Reasons Why Consumers Prefer a Loyalty Program
    • What Do Consumers Want in Loyalty Programs?
    • Likes and Dislikes About Favourite Loyalty Programs
  • Barriers to Using Retailer Loyalty Programs
    • Why Loyalty Program Rewards Are Not Valuable Enough
    • Reasons for Not Actively Using a Loyalty Program
    • What Drives Lowered-to-No Consumer Loyalty?
    • Reasons for Consumers to Switch Loyalty
  • Loyalty Program Behaviours
    • Retailer Loyalty Program Influence
    • Loyalty by Consumer Segment
    • Loyalty By Retail Category
    • Changes in Customer Loyalty by Retail Category
    • Overall Reasons for Loyalty to a Brand or Retailer
  • Aussies are Shopping Differently: Why You Need Help to Adapt​

But here’s the good news: you don’t have to navigate this changing landscape alone. The Retail Doctor Group insights division partnered with Pureprofile to bring you this special report detailing consumer behaviours and feelings with regards to loyalty.  

Our resulting white paper offers you feedback from a statistically-representative sample of over 1,000 Australian consumers across all ages and locations via our online quantitative survey. These are the questions our survey sought to answer: 

  • Are consumers loyal? 
  • Is their loyalty dwindling? 
  • What is the influence of loyalty programs? 
  • Which programs are working – and which are not. 

Whether you’re a seasoned retailer or a smaller business just starting out, the insight below is crucial to staying ahead of the curve – and the competition! 

Key Insights From the Customer Loyalty Report  

So, just how loyal are your customers, anyway? Our survey measured consumer loyalty across six key categories: 

  • Fashion 
  • Grocery 
  • Homewares 
  • Takeaway Beverages 
  • Takeaway Food 
  • and Retailer Subscription Models 

Surprisingly, the category with the highest level of loyalty is Grocery. However, more important than price and loyalty programs, the consumers’ perceived connection to the retailer brand is the #1 driver for loyalty. 

95% of consumers are members of one or more loyalty programs. This is just the first of many significant increases in consumer loyalty behaviours since the pandemic, with an 18% rise in consumers’ stated usage of loyalty programs in the last 12 months. 

Overall, 83% of consumers are loyal to their preferred retailers. A constant since 2020, approximately two-thirds of consumers are influenced in some way by retail loyalty programs.  

Almost half of them state that a retailer loyalty program influences their choice of retailer when making a purchase in categories such as Fashion, Homewares, Takeaway Beverages, and Takeaway Food. However, in the Grocery category this influence increases to nearly four out of every five consumers, or 79%. 

So, how do loyalty programs influence consumers? 

  • 45% will visit more often. 
  • 27% will spend more. 
  • 19% will recommend / talk about that retailer with others.

To Pay or Not to Pay: Subscription Services Loyalty Sentiment 

Subscription-based loyalty programs have seen a significant rise. Over 30% of consumers currently pay for a retailer loyalty program such as Amazon Prime and One Pass, while 26% of consumers would consider signing up for a PAID retailer membership, and another 30% are not sure if they see the value in it. 

Just over one quarter of those surveyed would consider signing up for a PAID retailer membership, but expect VIP benefits from the loyalty program, such as: 

  • free delivery (48%). 
  • special monetary rewards (46%). 
  • member pricing tailored to their expectations (43%). 
  • and free gifts (37%). 

There are additional benefits that may sway this decision, but almost one third (31%) of those polled are adamant there is nothing that would encourage or influence them to sign up for paid subscription to a loyalty program.  

For those that are already members or may be considering a paid subscription, the additional benefits that may contribute to consumers signing up for a paid subscription model include: 

  • Fast delivery times (31%) 
  • Free returns (27%) 
  • Bundled products, such as streaming services (16%) 
  • Early access to product launches and sales (12%) 
  • Priority customer assistance (12%) 
  • Exclusive events (8%) 

But none of this would guarantee their loyalty, as 1 in 2 consumers would jump ship for a competitor whose loyalty program is perceived to be better or who offer better nuances to the same benefits. 

 To build customer loyalty you must first 

 understand your core consumers and their personalities in detail.  

 To then deliver a truly engaging loyalty program you will need to 

create an emotional connection with these consumers. 

Factors Influencing Customer Loyalty Behaviour 

From fantastic in-store engagement, to the process of emotionally bonding with trusted staff, to frictionless online experiences that resonate, customer loyalty is stronger than ever before. 

But the loyalty programs that drive customer behaviour are conditional on an excellent brand and retail experience in the moment. Consumers’ needs have changed, and to meet this demand retailers will need to focus on personalisation, ease-of-use, and instant reward gratification, for example, free shipping on a pending cart. 

Of course, a strong emotional connection with your brand is of utmost importance to build customer loyalty. Without an emotional connection, customers are driven by more rational, transactional benefits that lack emotional justification for the spend. 

However, the influence of a retailer’s loyalty program diminishes as  consumer age increases. Comparatively, 70% of Gen Z and Millennial customers say they’re influenced to spend, versus only 35% of Boomers.  

Most Important Factors in a Loyalty Program 

15 distinctive factors in a loyalty program emerged from our research. The top 5 factors are: 

  • Special discounts (62%). 
  • Points accumulation for discounts (56%). 
  • Regular rewards (56%). 
  • Member prices (50%). 
  • Free gifts (38%). 

We see these factors differ considerably when we delve into Limbic Insights™ segments and demographics, too. Hedonists look for free gifts, while Traditionalists want to collect points, and Performers want exclusive events and pricing. 

The remaining 10 factors most important to consumers in a loyalty program are: 

  • Discounts on partner products (25%). 
  • Personalised offers (18%). 
  • Collecting airline-specific points (17%). 
  • Early access to product launches and sales (16%). 
  • Collecting points for status tiers (11%). 
  • Access to exclusive events (7%). 
  • Being part of a larger community (5%). 
  • Being able to directly engage with a brand (5%). 
  • Access to value-added content, i.e. online classes, influencers, etc. (3%). 
  • and Other – not specified (2%). 

From this data, it should be easy for retailers to structure their rewards program in such a way that it caters to the factors deemed most rewarding to their customers. 

Reasons Why Consumers Prefer a Loyalty Program 

Consumers now have different needs from loyalty programs, citing simplicity, personalisation, and quick rewards as key reasons to prefer a loyalty program. When we break it down further, we see that loyalty programs: 

  • make it easier to accumulate rewards without constant and excessive shopping. 
  • offer good value for money. 
  • can have multiple partners to help gain points faster. 
  • include personalised benefits and member-only prices. 
  • give members access to a variety of rewards. 
  • facilitate great brand engagement and overall experience. 

These reasons align with the noted consumer trends of “Make it Quick”, “Make it Easy”, and “Make it About Me”. You can read more about these trends here. 

What Do Consumers Want in Loyalty Programs? 

Overall, consumers are looking for: 

  • better value. 
  • more rewards. 
  • and greater convenience. 

 These benefits will encourage more frequent usage. Also worth noting, discounts to save money are cited as the most significant influencing factor in increasing the usage of a loyalty program, followed by the desire to redeem a specific product reward. 

Likes and Dislikes About Favourite Loyalty Programs 

Customers highly value their preferred loyalty program for its tangible benefits, like: 

  • collecting points for discounts. 
  • frequent rewards. 
  • and special discounts. 

This indicates a strong satisfaction with the program’s core offerings. However, consumers expressed discontent with: 

  • the slow accumulation of rewards. 
  • perceived low value of rewards. 
  • and issues with communication and usability. 

This suggests areas for improvement where retailers can enhance overall consumer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Action Steps for Retailers 

A loyalty program is not a one-size-fits-all solution, as evidenced by the factors above. You need to know who your target consumers are, and which segment of consumers you want to build as your loyal consumers. Loyalty offers can then be tailored from this insight: 

  1. Conducting both personality and demographic segmentation of your consumer base (and future consumers) will allow you to develop a personalised program that engages different consumers in different ways.  
  1. This personalised program needs to link to your internal system capability and align with your brand.  
  1. Conducting a full diagnosis of what customers want and a gap analysis to what is possible in your business is key. 

NOTE: Analysis of your current systems and internal team capability may be required to lift your loyalty program performance above your competitors. Consider your internal team requirements and capital required against the ROI of such a program. 

Barriers to Using Retailer Loyalty Programs 

Over 35% of consumers don’t use a retailer’s loyalty program for various reasons, such as: 

  • insufficiently-valuable rewards. 
  • not enough savings. 
  • slow accumulation of rewards. 

However when we delve into different Limbic Insights™ personality segments we see very different motivations: 

  • Performers are deterred by the complexity. 
  • Open-Mindeds struggle to see the give-back value in the rewards system. 

Why Loyalty Program Rewards Are Not Valuable Enough 

2 in every 3 consumers state that the rewards earned do not offer high enough cash exchange value for the points collected, while 1 in every 5 consumers can’t exchange their points for anything of value to them 

Just over half (55%) of those polled do not get large enough member discounts to justify belonging to the retailer’s loyalty program, and 63% feel they do not earn points fast enough to meet their needs. 

Additional barriers include a lack of interest in the marketing emails received (21%), concerns about privacy and sharing of information (21%), being forced to carry a rewards card (10%), complicated sign-up processes (10%), and being forced to use an app to benefit from the loyalty program (6%). 

These pain points are a rich source of feedback for retailers, and can be used to structure rewards programs in such a way that they meet the needs of these cautious consumers. 

Reasons for Not Actively Using a Loyalty Program 

The primary influencing factor for using a loyalty program less frequently is that retail has become too expensive, followed by slow point accumulation, and lack of nearby stores. 

Lack of alignment of rewards programs with the needs, preferences, and lifestyle of consumers are the main reasons why consumers don’t actively use a loyalty program, even if they are members. But sometimes, diminished loyalty can also just be the result of location, price wars, or even frequent competitor sales. 

Addressing concerns related to cost, convenience, perceived value, and user experience could help enhance the effectiveness and attractiveness of retailers’ rewards programs for a broader audience. 

What Drives Lowered-to-No Consumer Loyalty? 

In our survey, 16,67% of consumers are not loyal to any retailer in the categories analysed. Overall, these categories each present their own distinct reasons for not being loyal to any brand, for instance: 

  • Groceries: Price-sensitive customers will make a shift to retailers with lower prices to stay within their tight budgets. 
  • Takeaway Beverages: Proximity of takeaway vendors and retailers to customers’ locations plays a significant role in their need for convenience and immediate fulfilment. 
  • Takeaway Foods:  Main drivers for a lack of loyalty is consumers’ inclination to try new things. 
  • Fashion and Homewares: Competitors who offer frequent sales or higher discounts than you could see a dip in your loyalty footfalls during these sales. 

Figure 1: Reasons for Not Being Loyal to Any Brand 

Reasons for Consumers to Switch Loyalty 

Here, too, our insights uncovered 8 distinct reasons that consumers would switch loyalty. 

50% of all consumers would switch/change their loyalty if they found a loyalty program that offered them better rewards for the same category. Almost the same amount of consumers (49%) stated they would switch for cheaper products, and 36% would switch for cheaper or free deliveries. 

Lack of inventory/poor inventory management would influence 28% of consumers to switch, while nearly a quarter of those polled (24%) cited bad in-store experiences with staff as a reason to switch loyalty. Other notable reasons include access to new products (21%) and free returns (20%). 

Interestingly, just over 1 in 10 (11%) consumers felt too loyal to switch. 

Loyalty Program Behaviours 

Over 70% of consumers are influenced in some way by retail loyalty programs they are already a member of. This is in stark contrast to the 27% of those polled who stated that loyalty programs they’re currently a member of do not influence them in any way to spend more (or more frequently), nor to spread the word about the retailer in question. 

Loyalty program influence has seen a significant rise in resulting consumer behaviours since 2023, most notably for in-store visits and amount of spend: 

  • 45% of consumers are influenced to visit the store more often. This number is higher still for Performers and Harmonisers, as well as for Gen Z and Millennial generations. 
  • Just over one quarter of survey respondents are influenced to spend more with each visit. Here, too, Gen Zs and Millennials tip the scale, along with Performers and Hedonists. 
  • 1 in 5 consumers – including Millennials – feel the need to share their experiences. This number increases when Performer and Adventurer personality segments talk about their experiences. 

This influence extends to how often loyalty programs are used by consumers, too, with Millennials and Adventurers demonstrating the highest frequency of use.  

And while 28% of consumers overall have increased the frequency of use of loyalty programs, a staggering 61% state that they have not been influenced to use retailers’ loyalty programs more often.  

However, only 10% of those polled agreed that they were influenced to use loyalty programs less often in the past 6 months.  

Retailer Loyalty Program Influence 

Approximately 50% of consumers in Fashion, Homewares, Takeaway Beverages, and Takeaway Food state that a retailer loyalty program influences their choice of retailer when making a purchase. In Grocery, this influence increases to 79%. 

The influence of the retailer loyalty program diminishes as age increases, dropping from 73% exerting a slight-to-significant influence on the 25-34 year-old age group (Gen Z and Millennials) to only 35% on the 65+ age group (Boomers).  

Figure 2: How Much a Retailer’s Loyalty Program Influences a Customer’s Choice of Retailer (per Sector) 

There is no significant difference in the influence between male and female genders. 

“Second, to understand customer loyalty you must 

 analyse your CX at all points of the customer’s journey.  

 Limbic Insights™ emotional profiling helps you understand the  

 emotional connection and resonance of your brand with consumers.”

Loyalty by Consumer Segment 

When it comes to loyalty, one size does not fit all.  

How and why loyalty programs influence consumers changes for different consumer segments. Genders and age groups have different needs and emotional drivers, as do personality segments.  

This is clearly evident in the survey data. But it’s also evident in RDG’s Limbic Insights™ neuroscientific personality profiling, built specifically to understand consumers on an emotional level in the retail environment.  

There are 7 different segments we talk about:  

  • Performers. 
  • Disciplined. 
  • Traditionalists. 
  • Hedonists. 
  • Adventurers. 
  • Harmonisers. 
  • Open-Minded. 

Delving into the different Limbic Insights™ personality segments, we note very different drivers and barriers to engaging with a loyalty program. For example: 

  • Performers are deterred by the complexity. 
  • Open-Mindeds struggle to see the value.  
  • Hedonists look for free gifts. 
  • Traditionalists want to collect points. 
  • Performers want exclusive events and pricing. 

Action Steps for Retailers 

Managing the truly transformative nature of enhancing your loyalty programs to cater to the seven different Limbic personalities is going to take a real commitment and investment, but it’s not monetary in nature.  

  1. Understanding customer psychology can help retailers create segmented loyalty programs that align with needs of the customer Limbic type and behaviour. This understanding can give retailers the data they need to build actual loyalty triggers that speak to the ‘why” behind the emotion. 
  1. Design website and in-store experiences to segment to customer profiles. This includes catering to layouts and navigational elements, colour and ambience factors, signage and messaging cues in-store, while duplicating this strategy on websites, social media profiles, online shopping portals, and advertising campaigns. 
  1. Service level segmentation to customer type will see a rise in on-demand and personalised service calls, so staff will need training to understand Limbic personality behaviours and needs, too. 

Loyalty By Retail Category 

The loyalty programs with the highest number of members are Everyday Rewards, Flybuys, McDonald’s MyMacca’s Rewards, Priceline Sister Club, Quantas Frequent Flyer, Dan Murphy, and Myer One.   

Grocery is the category with the most actively-used loyalty programs, with a high percentage of participation. McDonald’s is the food and beverage brand with the highest usage, with 20% of consumers participating in its loyalty program. 

MyerOne stands out in the clothing, footwear, and sports category, while Priceline Sister Club leads in the beauty category. In Other categories, two airline companies, Qantas and Virgin, have actively-used loyalty programs by consumers. 

The top 3 retailers per category are: 

  • Grocery: Everyday Rewards (79%), Flybuys (75%), and Dan Murphy’s (32%). 
  • Beauty: Priceline Sister Club (33%), Mecca Beauty Loop (12%), and Terry White ChemMart Rewards (8%). 
  • Clothing / Footwear / Sports: Myer One (31%), Cotton On Perks (19%), and Rebel Active (14%). 
  • Accessories: Pandora Club (7%), Lovisa (6%), and MIMCO (5%). 
  • Food / Beverage: McDonald’s MyMacca Rewards (34%), Boost Juice Vibe Club (15%), and Hungry Jack’s Shake & Win (14%). 
  • Other: Qantas Frequent Flyer (32%), Spotlight VIP Club (26%, and Virgin Velocity (24%). 

 Overall, the responses highlight the importance of loyalty programs across different sectors and characteristics, reflecting individual preferences, interests, and shopping habits. There is a mix of large corporate loyalty programs and smaller or local loyalty programs (e.g., local cafes, sports clubs). 

However, 8 out of 10 of the most popular loyalty programs are seeing consumers use them more frequently.

Changes in Customer Loyalty by Retail Category 

Respondents were asked just how loyal they are to specific brands and retailers in the following categories:

  • Grocery (69%). 
  • Takeaway Food (54%). 
  • Takeaway Beverages (42%). 
  • Fashion (39%). 
  • Homewares (33%). 

Overall Reasons for Loyalty to a Brand or Retailer 

The look and feel of the brand, the lowest prices, and the in-store experience are the most important factors in consumer loyalty to a specific brand or retailer.  

Of the seven Limbic shopper types, Performers and Adventurers are more interested in the brand’s look and feel than other segments.  

Membership in a loyalty program and the in-store experience are slightly more important for consumers above 55 years old than they are for younger consumers. 

Figure 3: Overall Reasons for Loyalty to a Brand or Retailer 

The primary reason for being loyal to a specific brand or retailer is the look and feel of the brand, except for the Grocery category, where the primary reason is because the consumer belongs to the brand/retailer loyalty program. 

Other important reasons for loyalty include low prices and the in-store experience. It should be noted that staff (as a reason) play a much bigger role in loyalty behaviours for all food-related categories. 

Figure 4: Reasons for Loyalty to Specific Brands or Retailers 

Over 80% of consumers state they are loyal to a brand in the categories analysed. The ‘Grocery’ category sees the highest customer loyalty, followed by ‘Takeaway Food’. 

Relationships with staff influence loyalty for 1 in 5 consumers – showing the importance of having well-trained and engaging frontline team members. 

Action Steps for Retailers 

The brand and the customer’s experience can drive customer loyalty more than playing purely on price.  

Using Limbic Insights™ emotional profiling helps you understand the emotional connection and resonance of your brand with consumers, leading to increased customer loyalty.  

Your customer experience can be your differentiator to build customer loyalty. Conduct an analysis of your CX at all points of the customer’s journey to see where the friction points are. Things to consider include:  

  • your instore and website design. 
  • merchandise layout. 
  • communications. 
  • staff engagement. 

Your staff are also a key part of customer loyalty. Customers that build relationships with staff are more likely to be loyal. Consider your staff training: does it create a differentiated experience for your brand?  

Retail Doctor Academy can help you build curated training programs to create an exceptional customer experience. 

Lastly, adaptability is key in today’s uncertain world 

 Decode your customers’ evolving needs and expectations,  

 tailor your offerings, embrace the changing consumer landscape,  

and seek the right kind of support to build an effective loyalty program. 

Aussies are Shopping Differently: Why You Need Help to Adapt 

Industry professionals and experienced mentors can offer valuable insights and strategies to adapt to evolving customer demands. Connecting with other businesses, especially fellow SMMEs, can provide a support network and a chance to learn from each other’s successes and challenges. 

Remember, adaptability is key in today’s business world. By embracing the changing consumer landscape and seeking the right kind of support, you can decode your customers’ evolving needs and expectations, allowing you to tailor your offerings accordingly. 

RDG keeps you informed about the latest trends in retail, from evolving technology to shifting consumer preferences, so you can adapt and innovate to stay competitive. We also provide practical guidance on various aspects of running your business, from marketing and sales to operations and finance. 

There are a wealth of RDG resources available to guide you, from online courses to workshops, to help you understand and cater to the new breed of Australian consumers. We understand the unique challenges you face and can provide the advice and mentorship you need to thrive in this new era of retail. 

Don’t let the changing retail landscape leave your business behind. Contact Retail Doctor Group today and take the first step towards success in the ever-evolving world of retail.


Contact the Retail Doctor Group, a retail advisory and consulting practice that builds retail channels and increases the performance of retail and FMCG businesses through our customised & transformative ‘Business Fitness™’ methodologies.

Since 2005 we have partnered with our clients to build powerful, award-winning, sustainable, and “fit” implemented retail. Ensuring our clients consistently achieve above benchmarks, build sales and margin results. We stay with our clients to ensure success.

As the Australian elected member of International Retail Experts, Ebeltoft Group, we have more than 20 years of experience as retailers and consultants in all retail channels, segments and regions. Today, members of the Ebeltoft network advise 80 of the 100 largest retail companies in the world.

Want to know more about the Future of Retail and prepare your retail strategies? Schedule an appointment with our Insights division by e-mailing us at businessfitness@retaildoctor.com.au or calling 02 9460 2882.