The Future of Rewards Has Arrived Virtual Incentives Blog

The Future of Rewards Has Arrived

We recently teamed up with Koski Research, Leonard Murphy, and Ask Your Target Market (AYTM) to better understand the future of rewards. Specifically, we surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers and examined how and why consumers value rewards and incentives in the following ways:

  • Delivery Channel Preference
  • Consumers’ Perceived Value
  • Role in Brand Engagement

Virtual Incentives CEO Jonathan Price sums up the general sentiment of the survey findings in a Loyalty360 interview: “We are just beginning to dig into the data, but are going to focus our efforts around developing engagement vehicles for rewards that meet channel preferences, influence brand choice and become a relevant form of currency to consumers.”

Delivery Channel Preference

When it comes to delivery,It’s all about instant and digital. We found that consumers like to be paid with fluid forms of currency that can be delivered in real time. This concept is particularly true for Millennials — 87% said they want to receive their incentives digitally and instantaneously.
Think about reward types that can be spent on a wide variety of things, like Visa® Virtual Rewards. As Price says: “I believe that as cash becomes even more ambiguous and we transact more electronically, we will eventually meet the consumer mindset in the middle as it relates to a reward or incentive.”
In short: Consumers want their rewards delivered in the blink of an eye, and they want the flexibility to spend them online, right away.

Consumers’ Perceived Value

For consumers to engage in the first place, they have to believe they are being compensated fairly for providing information. In fact, 70% of respondents say they only participate in certain activities (like loyalty programs or customer surveys) for the incentives. And while 64% of those surveyed believe the information they provide is meaningful, it doesn’t mean they’re always willing to share.
It turns out that people are most comfortable sharing shopping habits, TV consumption, spending habits; and least comfortable sharing their internet history, relationships and personal finance information. Our friend Lenny Murphy explains how “a multidimensional system that has real incentives and rewards that pays consumers for their participation in an accretive way is not only more fair — it also drives the shift in necessary thinking to support the emergence of the personal data economy.”

Role in Brand Engagement

We found that incentives have a lot of power — specifically, the power to sway consumer decisions. Price surmises “the closer you can connect the incentive opportunity to a consumer’s brand experience and simultaneously deliver the reward, this is the most powerful use of an incentive.” With 75% of our respondents feeling more favorable toward a company that offers incentives, companies should consider the power of incentives — especially those in need of increased brand equity.
But don’t just pump out generic rewards; try tailoring it to your audience. We found 69% of people feel more favorable toward a company that offers personalized messages or rewards.
The future of rewards is here, so take advantage of it now. Before you build out a consumer incentive program, factor in these data-driven takeaways:

  • Consumers want to be able to receive and use incentives instantaneously.
  • Be sure to make your incentives fair, meaningful and worthy of your consumers’ time.
  • Incentives have the power to sway consumer decisions and drive brand engagement.

Ready for more insights? Stay tuned for an e-book all about the Future of Rewards where we’ll dive even deeper into the data and explore the trends shaping our industry.