rewards trends in shopper marketing and how to redefine your incentive strategy

Clock icon 12 min read Calendar icon Jul 26, 2021

Rewards Trends: Providing Incentives for Engaged Customers That Work

Customer incentive programs or customer reward programs are meant to motivate customers to become repeat buyers—but the best incentive strategies motivate your already-loyal customers to stay engaged and to become repeat buyers. It’s no secret that it’s more efficient to maintain existing customers than acquire new ones, but your strategy for maintaining customers will need to keep up with consumer behaviors and preferences.

Considering 37% of customers deem themselves loyal after making five or more purchases from the same brand and four out of five consumers are more likely to engage with brands who offer incentives, a customer incentive strategy is vital to acquisition and retention, especially during those early interactions with your brand.

In the past, loyalty and rewards programs tended to focus on giving consumers a break on price. But today, incentive strategies aren’t just about offering discounts—customers are looking for more ways your brand can add value to their loyalty. In fact, 68% of loyal customers said they would leave if they feel brands are indifferent to them, and keeping pace with what customers want from rewards or loyalty programs shows your brand is just as engaged with them as they are with your products.

Let’s take a look at what’s trending in incentive schemes, customer rewards programs and loyalty programs and how you can utilize these strategies in your own marketing:

Trends in Rewards & Loyalty Programs

Loyal customers offer 23% more revenue and profitability to your brand than average customers, and 57% of consumers spend more on brands which they consider themselves loyal to. If it’s been a while since your company has looked at loyalty programs and the types of rewards they feature, new trends show a preference for personalizing rewards, making the programs function more like fun games, and offering experiences—not just products or discounts. And remember that keeping customers engaged through your incentive program will keep your brand top of mind.

Personalized rewards

It certainly pays to develop a rewards program for customers, and your efforts to personalize rewards should improve your bottom line. Keep in mind that approximately 93% of businesses that have an advanced personalization strategy reported revenue growth in the previous year.

This means, for instance, that your customers will have access to a unique dashboard when they sign in, showing their personal page of rewards benefits, what they’ve earned so far, and what they purchased previously. Rewards opportunities might be based on their previous purchases, especially if there’s a particular product they purchase frequently.

Experiential rewards

Rewards can offer more than stuff—they can also offer customers memories. Experiential rewards can be anything from vouchers for a tasting and tour at a local winery to a tropical vacation at an all-inclusive resort or to exclusive meet and greets and VIP experiences. Especially after a year of staying at home, consumers are excited to get back out to places they love and try new things, so consider experiential rewards for your brand’s high earners or utilize an experience as a sweepstakes grand prize.


Companies are seeing value in incorporating game mechanics into their rewards programs—it’s another way to engage customers and offer a memorable experience.

For example, if your loyalty program uses a points system, present points in a chart that shows milestones and what rewards the customer is eligible for after racking up a certain amount. You might also create opportunities for bonus points if they complete certain non-purchase tasks, such as commenting on your latest social media post, or tagging your brand in a post of their own.

Simple System With Relevant Rewards

You want your loyalty program to be simple, easy to access, and easy for customers to engage with—in fact, 75% of consumers said they would engage more with programs they can access from their smartphones. Loyalty programs have to provide value, and having to spend too much time navigating the program’s rules, or if the program is difficult to access from their favorite device, customers will quickly be turned off from using it, even if they keep buying your products.

Show customers how to engage with your program, such as texting photos of their receipt to a specific number or logging into your app to make purchases and connect their social accounts to track non-purchase actions.

Make it clear what actions will earn customers points or rewards and what each action is worth. If you utilize points, you might assign a point value to every dollar spent, then a separate value to other actions, like engaging with your brand on social media or sharing their customer code with friends.

Customer Incentive Ideas

Increase Redemption Rates with Unique Rewards

No matter how excellent the experience is for your customer incentive program, if you’re not offering rewards they want—your customers won’t redeem them. 29% of customers want rewards to be more interesting and tailored to what they want. If you’re not sure what your customers want, consider how your rewards program can be a source of first and zero-party data to help you learn more about your customers—and the right customer retention solution gives you the flexibility to test a variety of programs to help you find the perfect fit.

Check out these unique customer incentive options to improve your program’s redemption rates:

Gift Cards

Anyone can give an Amazon gift card as a reward; it’s time to think outside the box with your gift card rewards. Where do your customers typically purchase your products, if not directly from your brand shops or website? What other activities do they enjoy, like dining out, streaming movies? Or are there other retailer types that you could partner with for gift cards?

More targeted gift card options show you understand your customers and know what they like outside your brand, which provides more value to them and more incentive to engage with your program and your brand.

Iposos, who conducts research panels for various customers across the world, was looking for a simple and global solution to distribute incentives to participating panelists. The company was focused on gift card rewards, but not just one brand, but multiple, giving participants greater incentive.

Snipp—utilizing its SnippRewards platform—worked with Ipsos to develop its incentive program: participants who take a survey on the client platform receive a unique redemption link that takes them to the Ipsos branded Snipp micro rewards site, where, in 30+ countries, they can redeem various rewards, such as gift cards and Digital Cash - creating a localized and personalized experience, focused on the participant.

Cash Back

You can’t go wrong offering people cold hard cash. As they purchase goods or services from you, they will be thinking in the back of their mind that they’re paying a “discounted” price, since they’ll be getting a percentage back from you in cash.

Pet food brand, IAMS, wanted to drive loyalty, sales, and brand awareness as well as help consumers out during a difficult year, while promoting health and wellness for their customers’ pets. Snipp worked with IAMS to  develop a purchase-based program where consumers who made a qualifying IAMS purchase and took their pets to their annual vet visit could upload their receipts online and get a cash rebate for their vet visit (up to $200).

Not only did this program offer a substantial rebate, it also aligned IAMS with consumer values to take the best care of their pets possible, even when times are tough.

Experiencial rewards

Another popular trend in rewards programs is to give consumers experiences, rather than money or products. Depending on the price levels of services or products you sell, your rewards program can give customers their choice of vacation packages and destinations or other locally-based experiences.

Beam Suntory, a leader in premium alcoholic spirits, was looking to drive sales and brand preference for their portfolio of brands during June - in the state of Pennsylvania - by highlighting their products as great gifts for Father’s Day or college grads. Snipp helped them develop a text-based program where consumers texted a photo of their receipt to get a link to a microsite where they could enter an engagement sweepstakes. Prizes included gift cards as well as an experiential reward: a trip to a popular Pennsylvania resort.

Experiential rewards don’t have to be big destination vacations like a theme park or remote island resort, as evidenced in Beam Suntory’s program. However, you can offer even smaller but still valuable experiences for less expensive purchases, such as sporting events, escape rooms, rock climbing walls, wine tastings, or other small, unique attractions.

Charitable Donations

Some shoppers aren’t primarily motivated by cost savings. For these customers, another approach to loyalty programs is turning rewards into charitable donations. The call from consumers for brand responsibility is higher than ever, and doing good for the causes your customers care about is a great way to foster loyalty and drive sales. Your customers will feel good about their purchases by knowing they’re supporting the causes close to them.

Constellation Wines has been a long-time supporter of military families, and the company wanted to continue this tradition during the pandemic, while expanding awareness and engaging customers. Snipp provided the company with text and keyword technology to drive traffic and donations for a campaign supporting the non-profit, Operation Homefront. Several of the company’s brands featured information about Operation Homefront on their retail displays with directions for consumers to text a keyword to get a link to the nonprofit's website and make a donation.

When looking for a non-profit to support through a campaign like this one, take a look at your brand’s values, as well as your customers’ values, and identify charities that fit. It’s also important to do your due diligence to ensure donations made to a non-profit will truly support the community or cause you and your customers want to help.


Everyone loves a good prize. Whether it’s branded swag, exclusive gifts, or products from another brand your customers love, prizes are a great reward option. Considering that 41% of consumers welcome opportunities to win something, and 32% like getting surprises from brands, prizes work well for enticing customers of B2C and B2B companies.

Bar-S foods was looking to grow year-over-year with their key accounts, while driving additional SKUs and innovations to be taken on by accounts. Snipp helped them to create a B2B annual rewards program and accompanying microsite via the SnippRewards platform. Accounts earned 1 point for every $1 they spent more than the previous year, and points accumulated during the earning period could be redeemed for rewards, like branded polos, backpacks, YETI products, meat scales, and iPads.


Coupons and discounts are still valuable drivers of loyalty—in fact, 61% of consumers say they use them. A coupon can be a gateway to earning those first purchases with your brand, especially online, as 51% of shoppers will search for coupons before making a purchase online, and 87% find coupons and discounts a strong motivator to purchase after placing an item in their cart.

Coupons are great purchase motivators during specific shopping seasons, such as the holidays or back to school, when customers are looking for a deal. Henkel, who owns many name brands including Purex, Dial, RightGuard, and SoftScrub, utilized the SnippCheck platform for back to school shoppers to redeem a $10 coupon when they spend $20 on Henkel products.

Consider a coupon or discount offering that applies to another brand of interest for your customers or the retailer they purchase from. For example, Arm & Hammer leveraged Snipp’s mobile purchase validation solution to drastically reduce the number of steps for customers to redeem a $10 savings code to Customers simply submit photos of their receipt and the UPC codes on qualifying Arm & Hammer products via text, and customers receive their digital coupon code within 48 hours.

Rewarding Your Valuable Customers with Snipp's Modular Customer Acquisition, Retention, and Engagement Platform

Customer incentive, rewards and loyalty programs are here to stay. They improve customer engagement and retention, while making shoppers feel more invested in the companies with which they do business.

As your organization searches for ways to give customers better rewards, it’s worth noting that Snipp’s customer engagement, retention, and acquisition platform is a leader in developing rewards programs with currently more than 2,800 rewards from which to select. Our receipt processing technology also makes logging purchases easy for customers, while helping your brand gather zero-party data to learn more about your customers.

Learn more about SnippRewards