In a shaky year, marked by the economic uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdowns, loyalty and reward programmes across South Africa’s retail spaces have emerged as clear winners – for both retailers and consumers.
The 2021 Truth & BrandMapp South African Loyalty Whitepaper shows that there has been a significant shift in consumer behaviour after the disruptive year of 2020, with shoppers more turning to loyalty programmes than ever before.
According to the group, 74% of economically active South African are using loyalty programmes in 2021. This is a slight increase of two percentage points since 2019 – the last time the survey was conducted.
Since the inception of The Truth & BrandMapp Loyalty Whitepaper in 2015, there has been an overall increase in loyalty programme usage of seven percentage points from 67% in 2015 to 74% in 2021.
More women than men use loyalty programmes, and the demographics are skewed even further along age lines: people over 25 are far more likely to subscribe, while those under 25 prefer to give the schemes a skip.
“What is significant is that the number of loyalty programmes which South Africans belong to has increased significantly to 8.7 programmes on average. We also see that Covid-19 has flattened the gender curve in terms of loyalty programme usage.
“Males are now using loyalty programmes more and at a higher rate than their female counterparts, which has never been seen before in the BrandMapp survey. We believe lockdown and working from home has driven this change,” the group said.
The BrandMapp survey captured the opinions of over 33,000 South Africans with a household income of more than R10,000 a month. While this represents only 30% of the South African population, it represents 100% of the country’s tax-paying base and 80% of all consumer spending, the group said.
The most used loyalty programme in the country is the Pick n Pay Smart Shopper scheme, which regained the top spot after slipping behind the Clicks ClubCard in 2019.
Clicks is still a top-ranked programme, only 1% below Pick n Pay, while Dis-Chem’s Benefits programme retained third.
According to BrandMapp, the most significant wins were seen in the retail space, where gains were seen almost across the board. Only the Thank U rewards card from the beleaguered Edgars group saw a significant decline in the top 10.
“It is significant to note the arrival of The Shoprite Group onto the loyalty scene,” BrandMapp said.
“Checkers Xtra Savings has been in the market for less than two years and has confidently taken the 4th position of most used programmes. 60% of South Africans use Checkers Xtra Savings, which is particularly impressive given it is still a new player versus other long-established loyalty brands.”
However, the group noted that its survey respondents have a household income of R10,000 or more per month, which may not reflect the Xtra Savings programme’s proper reach. In September, the Shoprite group reported that its Xtra Savings Rewards Programme has signed up over 20 million members since its launch.
Other new programmes into the South African marketplace, within the top 25 most used loyalty programmes, are Shell V+ and DSTV Rewards, with the number of South Africans using their programmes at 19% and 11%, respectively.
“We also see re-launched programmes by the telco giants, Vodacom (VodaBucks) and MTN (Yellobucks) sitting within the top 25 most used loyalty programmes for 2021,” BrandMapp said.
These are the top 25 loyalty programmes in South Africa:
“Given the dominance of retailers in the top 10 most used loyalty programmes, we need to highlight that the only loyalty brand outside of retailing which features in the top 10 is FNB eBucks. 36% of South Africans use eBucks, which is up by three percentage points from 2019.
“eBucks has consistently always been the most used non-retail loyalty brand throughout the Truth & BrandMapp Loyalty Whitepaper series,” it said.