Merkle Releases 2020 Loyalty Barometer Report, Reveals Need to Create Human Connections is Top Priority

Merkle (, a leading technology-enabled, data-driven performance marketing agency, has released its 2020 Loyalty Barometer Report. Merkle’s Human Loyalty® solutions, including digital promotions, gamification, engagement hubs, and loyalty programs, are designed to create enduring brand-consumer relationships and serve as a source of customer insight needed to fuel personalized brand experiences. This third annual report analyzes how consumers feel about loyalty and rewards programs with insights on how marketers can improve marketing strategies and align them with consumer preferences and individual need states. Merkle will host a complimentary webinar on Thursday, March 12 at 2:00 p.m. ET, where authors Gina Fleck and Tristen Kendall-Barros will discuss key findings from the report and provide attendees with valuable insights into the loyalty marketing landscape.

The 2020 report features original research into loyalty program structures and the importance of building emotional relationships with consumers. The study found that, although discounts and free products remain the top reasons to join a rewards program, engagement and recognition-focused elements are required to maintain and strengthen that connection. Additionally, deeper loyalty can be achieved when brands know and engage their consumers, as 41 percent of consumers indicate that the most important way a brand can interact with them is by saying “Thank You” for being a customer.

The report also concludes that consumers are interested in deepening their engagement with brands outside of earning rewards, highlighting that 33 percent would like to be able to unlock additional features to find the right product. Integrating different engagement mechanics into a loyalty program can further enhance the customer experience and provide new benefits outside of traditional rewards.

“Consumer behavior and consumption are shifting at an unprecedented pace. We’re in the new loyalty economy where loyalty leaders grow revenue two and a half times faster than industry peers,” said Chris Wayman, executive vice president and general manager, Promotion & Loyalty Solutions at Merkle. “Effective loyalty leaders are in relentless pursuit of deepening customer relationships through personalized experiences, rewards, and recognition that anticipate and address the individual needs of consumers. Our 2020 report reveals how consumer mindsets are shifting, looking ahead to how loyalty programs should evolve so that brands can ensure their strategies are not only current, but also remain relevant and impactful into the future.”

This year’s report also takes a deeper look into gamification and personalization. Key findings include:

  • Consumers expect individualized experiences, but growing concerns and regulations around data privacy influence what information should be used and how the experience should be designed.
  • Unlocking new features, accessing tools to help their shopping process, and participating in surveys or polls are top gamification and engagement-focused activities consumers would like to see in loyalty programs.
  • The ability to drive their own experience is top of mind for consumers in 2020, as 85 percent want to choose their own rewards and benefits.

To download the full report and to learn more about Merkle Promotion & Loyalty Solutions, visit here.


For this report, Merkle surveyed more than 1,500 consumers in 2019 who were sourced outside of the programs it manages for clients. The responses came from US residents aged 18-65, allowing the data to be segmented from baby boomers to Gen X to millennials to Gen Y.

About Merkle

Merkle is a leading data-driven, technology-enabled, global performance marketing agency that specializes in the delivery of unique, personalized customer experiences across platforms and devices. For more than 30 years, Fortune 1000 companies and leading nonprofit organizations have partnered with Merkle to maximize the value of their customer portfolios. The agency’s heritage in data, technology, and analytics forms the foundation for its unmatched skills in understanding consumer insights that drive people-based marketing strategies. Its combined strengths in performance media, customer experience, customer relationship management, loyalty, and enterprise marketing technology drive improved marketing results and competitive advantage. With 9,400+ employees, Merkle is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, with 50+ additional offices throughout the US, EMEA, and APAC. In 2016, the agency joined the Dentsu Aegis Network.

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Kite Hill, PR for Merkle
Moira Shannon
[email protected]

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