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Gender and loyalty programme usage – it’s a woman’s world

It may not be surprising to see that women are members of more loyalty programmes than men, and that the type of loyalty programmes they belong to are skewed towards grocery and clothing, versus men who seem to gravitate towards the ‘financial’ loyalty offerings.  

Are we as marketers using this to communicate to customers differently? When it comes to loyalty programmes, do men respond differently to women? Here are some tips on how to speak differently to a female and a male customer. 

A study by Melnyk and Osselaer looked at gender differences in responses to loyalty programmes. The study compared two different kinds of loyalty programmes: 


  1. Programmes that provide “high status” (e.g. tiered loyalty programmes offering VIP status) 
  2. Programmes that provide personalisation (e.g. sending a personalised birthday card or gift to members) 


The study found that men responded more positively to high-status loyalty programmes, but ONLY if their status was going to be visible or noticed by other people. Simply put, men typically care about reaching or belonging to the top tier if people are going to notice it and are (more than women) interested in showing off their high status. 

Secondary to status, the survey set out to understand if men or women prefer a personalised experience when engaging with a brand and their loyalty programme. The results showed women were more likely to prefer a service that was personalised and tailored to them and did not show any interest in having their personalised experience open for display.

Women want personalised loyalty, but value their privacy 

In summary, men are more interested in loyalty programmes that offer “status” (high levels, rewards, etc.), but only if it is clearly visible to others. Women are more private when it comes to “showing off” their tier status and prefer a personalised experience.