Millennials to Brands: Make Loyalty Programs Fun, and Save Us Some Money, Too

CINCINNATI (October 14, 2015)  -- Millennials just want to have fun.

That may sound like a Cyndi Lauper lyric. It’s really a crucial insight for loyalty marketers who want their customer rewards programs to be a smash hit with the 80-million-strong U.S. consumer segment accounted for by 18- to 34-year-olds.

In a COLLOQUY-sponsored nationwide survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, 34% of millennials said the word that best describes their participation in a customer reward program is “fun.” By comparison, 26% of the general population (18 to 65 years and over) chose the word “fun,” meaning millennials scored 24% higher on the loyalty-needs-to-be-fun meter.

In an equally revealing survey outcome, 66% of the general population said “economical” is the word that best describes their loyalty program participation, versus 56% of millennials, a 15% gap.

The fun-versus-economical results are just two highlights from a larger set of survey findings that tell marketers millennials are a different breed when it comes to their engagement with a brand via a rewards program. Here are other survey results that set millennials apart when it comes to loyalty programs:

  • 63% of millennials said they had joined a program within the past year, versus 55% of the general population, a 13% difference.
  • 25% of millennials said they joined a program in the past year because it offered access to members-only events, versus 16% of the general population, a 36% difference.
  • 40% of millennials said they joined a program for access to members-only sales, products and services, versus 33% of the general population, an 18% difference.
  • 63% of millennials said it’s important that their loyalty program participation supports lifestyle preferences such as wellness programs, sustainability efforts or a charity, versus 53% of Gen X’ers (35-50) and 46% of baby boomers (51 and over), differences of 16% and 27%,  respectively.

“Millennials aren’t simply you in a time warp. Yes, you were once their age, but that doesn’t mean you understand their needs,” said COLLOQUY Research Director Jeff Berry. “Millennials have dramatically different ideas about consumerism and loyalty than other demographics,” he said.

Berry’s tip for loyalty marketers: “Prioritize experiences over economic gains, because millennials love to try new things. And gamify everything.”

In other key findings from the COLLOQUY survey, 49% of millennials stopped using a loyalty program after receiving irrelevant communications, compared to 37% of the general population, a 24% difference; and 18% of millennials stopped participating in a program because it lacked a smartphone app, compared to 13% of the general population, a 33% difference.

Moreover, a little over one-quarter of millennials (27%) continued their participation in a loyalty program because it featured a competitive game, or a social element such as badges, leaderboards or communities. By comparison, just 7% of baby boomers stayed with a program for those reasons, representing a gap of 74%.

Finally, 42% of millennials continue to participate in a program because it has a mobile payment option, while just 15% of baby boomers said the same, a 64% difference.  

The survey-based revelations about U.S. millennial attitudes and preferences are part of a larger COLLOQUY report on loyalty program effectiveness. That report, Customer Loyalty in 2015 & Beyond: Are You Wasting Your Money?, is available for a free download. COLLOQUY, operated by LoyaltyOne, is a leading provider of loyalty marketing research, publishing and education.

The COLLOQUY survey results are based on an online survey in August 2015 of 1,000 American consumers. The margin of error is +/- 5% at the 90% confidence level.


Celebrating its 25th year, COLLOQUY has served as a leading publishing, education and research practice, bringing together loyalty practitioners from around the world. A pioneer in the industry, COLLOQUY is the first publication dedicated expressly to the art and science of loyalty marketing and has since become the go-to resource for loyalty intelligence. Today COLLOQUY engages and educates loyalty marketers with its magazine, weekly e-newsletter and timely and comprehensive loyalty-marketing website, In each issue of the magazine, the “COLLOQUY Recognizes” feature highlights excellence in loyalty. COLLOQUY delivers industry-leading loyalty benchmarking reports and educational workshops, webinars and speeches. The COLLOQUY Summit is the premiere annual loyalty event. Advertising, sponsorship and publishing opportunities are available via the COLLOQUY Network, a global partnership of loyalty service providers. COLLOQUY is an independently operated division of LoyaltyOne. To learn more, visit