Loyalty members buy big across channels: Epsilon

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Consumers who were members of at least one retail loyalty or rewards program were far more likely to shop in multiple channels and spent more than others on gifts during the 2006 holiday season.

This was a key finding from consumer research sponsored by Dallas-based Epsilon, a provider of multichannel, data-driven marketing technologies and services, and GfK Custom Research North America. The study of more than 700 holiday shoppers examines 2006 holiday shopping trends and the impact of retail loyalty and rewards programs. It also found that retail loyalty programs delivered on their promise of driving sales and loyalty.

"Loyalty and rewards programs are clearly important tools for building sales and repeat visitation across multiple channels and within important and valuable customer segments," said Epsilon chief operating officer Bryan Kennedy in a statement. "However, marketers need to continue to invest in data collection, refine content strategies and optimize channel marketing and communication efforts to fully capitalize on this enormous marketing opportunity."

Highlights from the study include:

--Higher Spending: Overall, consumers spent an average of $1,098 on gifts, but loyalty and rewards program members outspent others by 14 percent

--More multichannel shopping: Almost half of non-loyalty program members did all of their shopping in stores this past holiday season. Among retail loyalty program members, however, that percentage drops to 22 percent. In addition, nearly two-thirds of them shopped online, and 41 percent ordered from a catalog or through the mail

--Widespread loyalty/reward card use: 94 percent of retail loyalty program members reported using their programs' membership cards with at least some of their purchases. In addition, one-in-five indicated that they redeemed rewards during the holiday season

--Strong Influence: The majority of retail loyalty program members (58 percent) said that membership influenced which companies they purchased from during the holiday season.

Epsilon's study also explored members' motivations for signing up, and their general satisfaction with and sophistication toward retailers' online marketing efforts.

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