The New Loyalty Landscape

By Matthew Betes, Corporate Marketing Director, tcc


Current predictions about the retail sector range from – ‘everything is going to change forever’ to ‘things will get back to ‘normal’ eventually’.

The truth (as is often the case) probably lies somewhere in between the two. What we do know for certain is that loyalty is more important than ever and that the right kind of marketing campaign will always make a difference to the bottom line.

As the best chief execs out there wonder how they will make their numbers and future proof their business, and as the best CMOs wonder how to re-connect or stay tuned with shoppers, marketing experts become an ever more important part boosting commercial targets whilst connecting with what matters most for consumers.

The landscape of loyalty post-covid is a different place but more familiar than you might think…

1. Supermarkets can become one-stop heroes

Big formats are focused on getting people back in-store, while convenience (a solution for many during the pandemic) will be keen to keep new shoppers.

Discounters will continue to flourish as on the whole many consumers have less disposable income as a result of the recent crisis and continue to establish a USP built of experience, value and brand.

For supermarkets & hypermarkets, safety, reliability, and value become increasingly important as does product assortment (strong own-label offering) and choice with a more discerning shopper picking where to allocate their big basket shop.

That said, we’re not out of the pandemic yet and recent Kantar research shows that people are continuing to prefer fewer trips out to stores. Enter the ever-important role of loyalty in order to create in-store events and reward shoppers for their spend with purpose-led strategies that continue to drive purchasing decisions. Accenture research reveals that an estimated 81% of shoppers worldwide feel strongly that companies should do more to preserve the environment and 62% make purchasing decisions according to their values.

2. Local beats Global

Nearly half of consumers (47%) say they’d participate in a grocer’s loyalty scheme if there was a greater focus on local rewards.

Many retailers have responded to this trend but post-pandemic, there is an opportunity for retailers to embrace this, not just through what they stock but how they position their brand and incorporate loyalty into their wider marketing strategy.

Reward campaigns can spotlight products made domestically, as well as the ones that support local communities including the workers, factories, and store staff themselves.

Hyperlocal stories will impact with shoppers more emotionally and create a stronger bond and relationship. We’re likely to see a renewed focus on national pride and customers being enabled to say “thank you” to local businesses after such a tough time.

Loyalty campaigns that deliver rewards for local schools and sports clubs are likely to be viewed favourably, as are those that include rewards for key workers or high-risk shoppers e.g. employees at hospitals or care homes.

3. Sustainability is here to stay

Over the course of the pandemic, many single-use plastics were brought back into stores to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Due to the severity of the pandemic, environmental issues took a bit of a back seat in the global news agenda.

But they’re back at the forefront of public perceptions. In the UK, Retail Gazette found that 76 per cent of consumers want retailers to do more to address environmental concerns, with single-use plastics being the most pressing sustainability initiative for shoppers.

Loyalty marketers will need to respond to this (if they haven’t already) with initiatives that can drive the return of sustainability in the short and medium term.

For example, ‘no food waste’ solutions that enable shoppers to affordably shop and consume in more sustainable ways. Packaging that can be easily recycled or is made from recycled goods. Or, messaging that focuses on being more loyal to the world in the way everyone lives.

Marketers have a key role to play in helping retailers land CSR values and creating the ecosystem for everyone to lead healthier lives.

4. Enjoying the human basics

As lockdowns lift, people might flood back to restaurants and take a break from cooking at home. But in the longer term we expect shoppers to look to enjoy the human basics that confinement has taught them to really value; precious social moments, the idea of being together at home or in restaurants, their health and fitness overall.

We might also see a continuation of learning together at home, following the schooling at home period retailers’ impact.

The opportunities for marketers are vast and varied. Retailers that provide groceries, educational supplies, or health and fitness products will be able to celebrate putting these things at the centre of the home and engage with shoppers on issues that are close to their hearts following the pandemic.


In USP creation, empathy plays a key role, developing a stronger bond with shoppers requires an understanding of values rather than solely appealing to the logic of lower prices.

As we continue to live through very difficult times during a pandemic, empathy will only become more important with true long-term relationships with shoppers being the end goal for retailers who truly wish to grow at pace.


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