Q: Do men and women respond differently to loyalty systems? Are there loyalty systems that work better for men?
In a 2012 study by Melnyk and Osselaer, gender differences in responses to loyalty programs were examined. You can find the study HERE: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11002-011-9160-3
The study compared two different kinds of loyalty program:
- a) those that provide “high status” (such as “Gold membership”)
- b) those that provide personalization (such as sending a personalized birthday card to clients)
The study also examined visibility, or the degree to which these programs are visible to others.
- For instance, some airlines reward “gold members” with special tags, lines, ticket counters, etc. so everyone can see the status of the customer
By asking participants a series of questions on a hypothetical airline that provided either special status and high visibility, or special status and low visibility, the study found:
- Men response more positively to high status loyalty programs, but ONLY if high status was “visible” to others
- In other words, for men, who cares about being a “gold member” if no one knows?
- Men (more than women) are interested in showing their high status.
Another phase of the study used a survey to find out whether men or women prefer personalized service
- Women were more likely to prefer service that was personalized to them
- However, women did not like their personalized treatment to be broadcast widely
- In other words, women want personalized loyalty, but value their privacy
In other phase of the study, men and women who were members of a gym were offered “platinum membership” as a result of their loyalty.
- They were offered either a towel or a t-shirt with the words “platinum membership” along with their name printed on the item. They could choose to have both printed (name and membership), only one (just their name, or just “platinum membership”), or neither.
- The t-shirt is considered “high visibility,” the towel is “low visibility”
- The words “platinum membership” are considered “high status,” and if the customer opted out, that was considered lower status.
- Men more strongly preferred a shirt (high visibility) that broadcast “platinum membership” in a loyalty program as well as their names (high status).
- This is stronger evidence that men want visible, high status loyalty programs.
Men are interested in loyalty programs that offer “high status” (high levels, rewards, etc.) BUT ONLY IF they have a way of communicating that high status to others.