Everything you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are on the rise, with more businesses looking at ways to attract, engage, and keep customers. But a loyalty program can’t fix everything.


If you are thinking of implementing a loyalty scheme in your business, you need a good understanding of loyalty program pros and cons. This article explores the advantages and disadvantages of loyalty programs so you can decide: are loyalty programs worth it? Is a loyalty program the right choice for my business?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of loyalty programs?

Customer loyalty programs offer several advantages to businesses. Firstly, they serve as a powerful tool to reward and retain regular customers, increasing the chances that a customer will become a long-term advocate of your brand. Additionally, these programs provide a competitive edge by differentiating a business from its rivals in the market. In other words, loyalty programs and rewards give customers a reason to choose you over your competitors. 


However, it's important to consider the drawbacks. One notable disadvantage is the expenses associated with implementing and maintaining loyalty programs. If you want to launch the full works - like a custom branded app with gamification features, it can get expensive. That's why it's important to weigh the pros and cons and consider strategically what is the best way for you and your brand to cultivate lasting customer relationships.


Let's explore the advantages and disadvantages of customer loyalty more in detail.


Advantages of loyalty programs


1. Retain existing customers

The main advantage of a loyalty program is customer retention. Too many brands focus on attracting new customers, forgetting to look after the ones they already have. 

Rewarding existing customers can prevent them from switching to competitors. Loyalty programs can also increase customer satisfaction. The more satisfied a customer is in their experience with you, the more likely they are to keep coming back. 

Just a 5% increase in customer retention rates correlates with a 25% increase in profit

On top of that, acquiring new customers costs 5-7 times more than retaining existing ones. That means loyal customers spend more and cost less. 

Advantages of loyalty: customer retention

2. New customer acquisition and brand advocacy

The next clear advantage of launching a loyalty scheme is that it is a powerful way to bring new customers into your business. A successful loyalty program serves as a referral tool. While customers can do this via word of mouth, a loyalty program makes referral as easy as possible. Create incentives for both the referrer and referee so you can encourage more people to sign up, share your message and advocate for your brand. 


Loyalty programs also help you win new customers by offering appealing incentives and value. The key advantage of a loyalty program is that you can keep customers coming back - even if your competitors are cheaper. Remember, customers aren't just motivated by the cheapest prices - they are motivated by user experience, rewards, and emotional loyalty. When you offer your customers something they cannot get anywhere else, they will choose your brand so they can receive the unique experience you offer.  


A loyalty program can be a deciding differentiator between a customer choosing you or your competitor. Say no to price wars and focus on building long-term relationships instead. 

Advantages of loyalty: customer acquisition.

3. Insightful data capture

One of the most valuable benefits of a loyalty program is the ability to get first-party customer data. When people see the value your loyalty program offers, they are willing to sign up and share their data with you. In return, you can offer them personalised reward experiences.

You can also access more insightful information via data capture options such as receipt scanning. Receipt scanning gives you insight into your customer's entire basket - including what they may have bought from your competitors.

Data collected from loyalty schemes makes it easier to understand your customers, their interests, and purchasing behaviours. This will help you tailor your messaging, products and rewards to them, which can lead to a more loyal customer base.

→  Find out why receipt scanning and loyalty programs are the ultimate match.

Advantages of loyalty: customer data capture.

How to use different types of rewards and incentives in your loyalty program

Find out here


Loyalty schemes offer concrete benefits and companies that use them are reaping the rewards. But let’s be real - there are some disadvantages to loyalty schemes, too. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether a loyalty scheme is right for your business:

Disadvantages of loyalty programs

1. They won’t work for every business

Loyalty programs aren't a one-size-fits-all solution. Implementing them can be challenging for smaller businesses with limited resources, especially if they lack the financial means, time, or expertise required for proper execution.

For businesses like independent coffee shops or hairdressing salons, a tech-powered loyalty program might not be suitable.

However, for larger enterprises with a robust user base, a tech-powered loyalty program can significantly enhance growth. But launching and maintaining such a program still requires adequate budgets and resources.

Disadvantages of loyalty programs: they won't work for any business.

2. They take time and effort

One disadvantage of a loyalty program is that they don’t work by themselves. To create a truly successful scheme, it’s necessary to invest the time and effort to build something worth signing up for. You will need to develop a clear strategy and be willing to review your loyalty scheme regularly. Customer behaviour is always changing and you need to have the time and resources to evaluate your loyalty program and adjust it as time goes on.

Businesses that don’t invest time and attention into their loyalty program will not see a great return. 

Disadvantages of loyalty programs: they take time.

3. They are complex to launch and maintain

Another significant drawback of loyalty programs is their complexity, particularly when lacking the necessary tools and expertise. Managing rewards programs is tough enough on its own, but if you don't have the right software in place, it can be nearly impossible to keep track of all the moving parts. 


This highlights the importance of selecting the right technology provider, to ensure effective implementation and management of a powerful loyalty scheme.

Disadvantages of loyalty programs: they can be difficult to manage.

How do you choose the right loyalty technology provider?

10 things to consider

So, are loyalty programs worth it?

Loyalty programs aren't right for every business and yes, they can be complex and difficult to implement, but let's be honest: if you can do it right, they are certainly worth it. Just ask the 90% of companies that have some form of loyalty program in place.

The prevalence of loyalty initiatives across various industries shows their popularity and effectiveness in engaging customers and creating brand loyalty. 

There are some clear loyalty scheme benefits: a successful loyalty program can improve customer retention, attract new customers, collect insightful data, and set you apart from your competition. 

But remember that you need to consider whether your business has the budget and resources to execute an advanced loyalty program. If not, there are more cost-effective alternatives, such as cashback incentives or member rewards. Get in touch for help on which is the best option for you. 

We hope this article has shown you how loyalty programs help businesses. Remember to choose loyalty software that is flexible and event-based. This will allow you to craft a loyalty scheme that best suits your needs and business goals. 

With White Label Loyalty, you can create a bespoke loyalty scheme in one easy-to-use interface. Manage all of your data and reward mechanics in one place. You can even add extra layers of referral, gamification, and marketing functionality to stand out. All of these elements will help boost customer engagement and keep your customer coming back for more. And that’s to everyone’s advantage! 


  • How can businesses effectively measure the return on investment (ROI) of implementing a loyalty program?

To measure the ROI of a loyalty program, you can track various metrics such as customer retention rates, average purchase frequency, and average order value before and after launching the program. Also, compare the lifetime value of loyal customers with non-loyal ones. Don't forget to ask customers for feedback and monitor their participation (such as engagement rates or reward redemption rates) to gauge satisfaction and help assess return on investment.  

  • Are there any legal or privacy considerations businesses should be aware of when collecting customer data through loyalty programs?

Be sure to follow data protection laws like GDPR. Get explicit consent from customers to use their data and be transparent bout how you'll use it. Customers value their privacy - so respecting it builds trust. 

  • Can loyalty programs have negative effects on customer behavior, such as encouraging excessive spending?

When only incentivising spending, loyalty programs might lead to negative behaviours such as excessive overspending. To mitigate these risks, businesses should set clear program guidelines, and focus on rewarding different types of customer activity (not just purchases). To do this, you need an event-based loyalty engine. 

  • Are there industry-specific best practices or case studies that demonstrate successful loyalty program implementations?

Yes! We have plenty of examples of inspiration for you. Check out our case studies, solutions page, and our loyalty guides

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Helen Walker

Helen Walker

Senior Content Marketing Executive

Helen is our Senior Content Marketing Executive. She shares valuable information about the Future of Loyalty and will keep you up to date on the latest industry insights...

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