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The four types of loyalty program members, and how to reward them

The four types of loyalty program members

If all consumers had the same wants, concerns, motivations, and sticking points, designing a rewards program would likely be a pretty simple task. However, that conformity could also turn the world into a boring, monolithic place—and nobody wants that.

In reality, every potential rewards program member is a little different; even within any given demographic, there exists a rich variety of differing personality traits, needs, and desires. By harnessing AI and making the most of the information members choose to share, total personalization may well be possible. But even in the absence of such technology, understanding basic truths about your consumers is the only way to effectively cater to them. Ultimately, the goal is long-lasting, mutually beneficial brand-consumer relationships. To start, let's look at the four main types of reward program members, identified by a recent Accenture study.1

Each of these member archetypes has a unique set of motivators and concerns. And each persona could be motivated by different awards.

1. The Pioneers: Tech-savvy risk-takers

The college kid who fixes the family smart remote and unfreezes Dad's laptop in a single weekend. The early-career professional who buys the latest gadget before others have even heard of it. The first person you know who invested in crypto.

Pioneers love innovation, and they are willing to try new things to make life better. Since half of this group is under age 34, they're digital natives. They do everything on their smartphones—except for the things they do on their smart watches. More than half of them are male.2

How to reward a Pioneer

Instead of asking what Pioneers want, it's almost easier to ask what rewards they don't want. Lovers of innovation, personalization, and new ways of doing things, this group will try almost any compelling offering. They're the target audience for brands experimenting with NFTs and other metaverse rewards. Many of them would be interested in redeeming rewards for cryptocurrency, for instance, through Bakkt® Crypto Rewards.

And of course, as lovers of cutting-edge technology, Pioneers are a prime audience for Bakkt® Apple Rewards, which typically offers new Apple products in the first week of release. Pioneers are primarily Generation Z and Millennials, both groups who not only feel very favorably towards the Apple brand, but who also display high intent to purchase Apple products. 3

Pioneers are also well-suited for groundbreaking programs linking healthy behaviors—from exercise to safe driving—to rewards. They value personalization and are more willing than other groups to give trusted brands access to the information needed to create personalized experiences.4

2. The Pragmatists: Results-focused tech users

The mom on the sidelines at sports practice in Michigan. The guy in line in front of you at the bank. The director of a Florida local community theater's production of “Cats.

What do such disparate people have in common?

They like to get things done.

While open-minded, Pragmatists don't need the newest gadget if their old one works just fine. If changing the way they do things means they'll get a better deal or get something done more efficiently, Pragmatists are willing to try it. But they're not going to change just for the sake of novelty.5

How to reward a Pragmatist

Pragmatists love the seamless experience provided by an Apple Rewards storefront; they don't have to jump through a lot of hoops, and are able to redeem rewards for products with well-known value and utility. Since Pragmatists love a good deal and convenience, the storefront’s split-pay options for redemption can be a great way for them to get the most value out of their rewards. The ability to use a combination of cash and points or miles when redeeming for a product speaks well to the Pragmatist’s budget-minded, results-driven attitude towards loyalty.

3. Skeptics: Alienated tech resistors

The woman wildly gesticulating at the customer service counter. The guy who wrote a "strongly-worded" letter to the editor. Your cousin who has returned every holiday gift you ever bought him.

Skeptics are not luddites—they have smartphones and computers—but they're less confident using them than the first two groups. They also have less trust in institutions than other groups. Finally, skeptics are less likely to take risks to make things better.6 All these attributes make them a challenging group to reach.

How to reward a Skeptic

Since they are often dissatisfied with the service they receive, Skeptics may be more strongly motivated by Merchandise Rewards, trading their points for items they can hold in their hands. They might appreciate a variety of loyalty stores, but Apple Rewards could be particularly appealing to this group, since the online storefront's seamless user experience takes the headache out of selecting and purchasing tech. If they do have questions, they can reach out to Bakkt's full-service, on-shore customer support team for some friendly assistance. Members can also access AppleCare+ and Apple Media product trials directly through the platform, further reducing barriers for this already-frustrated group.

4. Traditionalists: Mature, apprehensive tech avoiders

The retired volunteer at the nature museum. Your child's grandparents. The tenured professors at your local university.

Most Traditionalists are over age 55, meaning that they're not all necessarily elderly, but most of them grew up before technology held the central role in society that it does today. They value human contact over product innovations, preferring to shop at brick-and-mortar stores rather than online.7 And they may feel disappointed that opportunities for in-person service are shrinking in our increasingly digital world.

How to reward a Traditionalist

When Traditionalists do use technology, they want their gizmos to work together seamlessly and be easy to operate. This makes Apple Rewards a good option for them, even though, as Baby Boomers, their affinity toward the brand may not be quite as strong as their grandkids'.8

Speaking of grandkids, some rewards program members in this group may be more interested in redeeming points for gifts than for themselves. The products available at the Apple Rewards storefront make for coveted gifts. For the same reason, Gift Card Rewards may also strongly appeal to Traditionalists.

One thing Traditionalists value strongly is human interaction and in-person experiences. Travel Rewards may appeal to many in this demographic, especially those who have retired and have more time to wander, and those who may use travel points to arrange trips for the whole family. If she has enough points to get her granddaughter an iPhone and to take her on a trip to the Grand Canyon, maybe Gram will finally learn how to take a selfie.

Of course, none of the three-dimensional individuals in our lives can be fully reduced to a persona. Your grandmother might be a tech junkie, or your generally skeptical coworker might be really into redeeming her miles for cryptocurrency. However, Accenture's survey results9 show that enough consumers fall into these four broad categories to make them a useful guide for service providers.

  • Can your rewards program compete among all the other programs catching the eye of the Pioneer?
  • Can you deliver enough value to motivate the Pragmatist?
  • Can your customer service impress even the Skeptic?
  • Can you find the reward motivating enough to get the Traditionalist to sign up for an account?

We hope that this way of looking at the vast loyalty audience can help you make your own program the best that it can be—for all customers.

This does not constitute, and should not be construed as, investment advice or a recommendation to buy, sell, or otherwise transact in any investment, including any of the product(s) mentioned herein, or an invitation, offer or solicitation to engage in any investment activity. This information is provided solely on the basis that you will make your own investment decisions, and Bakkt does not take account of any investor's investment objectives, particular needs, or financial situation. It is strongly recommended that you seek professional investment advice before making any investment decision.

1 Accenture. "2019 Accenture Global Financial Services Study: Discover the Patterns in Personality." Accessed March 2023.

2 Accenture, Ibid

3 Morning Consult, based on July 2022-January 2023. Accessed Jan 2023.

4 Accenture, Ibid

5 Accenture, Ibid

6 Accenture, Ibid

7 Accenture, Ibid

8 Accenture, Ibid

9 Accenture, Ibid