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Loyalty Apps: Navigating the AI-Driven Landscape

In the world of customer retention, the importance of loyalty programs cannot be overstated. With the rise of digital technology, businesses are increasingly turning to apps for loyalty programs to keep their customers engaged and satisfied. In this article, we delve into the emerging trends and technologies that are shaping the future of loyalty apps, with a particular focus on the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

miko lehman
Miko Lehman
CEO @ GMI Software
05 October 2023 7 MIN OF READING

In the world of customer retention, the importance of loyalty programs cannot be overstated. With the rise of digital technology, businesses are increasingly turning to apps for loyalty programs to keep their customers engaged and satisfied. In this article, we delve into the emerging trends and technologies that are shaping the future of loyalty apps, with a particular focus on the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The State of Loyalty Apps Today

The advent of online shopping and the burgeoning e-commerce market have greatly influenced the development and operation of loyalty programs. In response to this digital shift, customers now expect their loyalty rewards to be easily accessible through digital means, with personalization enhancing the overall user experience.

According to recent studies, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical role of loyalty programs in building customer retention. Even in the post-pandemic era, businesses continue to leverage loyalty programs as a key strategy for customer retention. With economic uncertainties such as the cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation rates still lingering, loyalty programs have proven instrumental in helping consumers cope with these challenging conditions.

The Advantages of Loyalty Apps

Loyalty apps provide a plethora of benefits not only for customers but also for businesses. They offer an efficient way for customers to access and manage their loyalty rewards. Furthermore, they provide businesses with valuable customer data, which can be utilised to enhance customer engagement, improve decision-making, and ultimately, boost revenue. Here are some key advantages of loyalty apps:

  • Improved Customer Retention: Loyalty apps help businesses establish strong relationships with their customers, leading to higher retention rates.
  • Valuable Customer Data: Through loyalty apps, businesses can gather crucial customer data, which can be used to improve decision-making and personalise customer experiences.
  • Increased Consumer Spending: By offering attractive rewards, loyalty apps can encourage customers to spend more on the brand.
  • Enhanced Customer Engagement: Loyalty apps allow businesses to communicate effectively with their customers, thereby increasing customer engagement and satisfaction.
  • Better Communication: Loyalty apps provide a direct communication channel between businesses and customers, allowing businesses to notify customers about new products, special offers, and more.
Percentage of revenue from repeat business65% of a company’s revenue
Cost of customer acquisition vs retention5-25x more expensive to acquire a new customer
Long-term loyalty to a specific brand77% of consumers loyal for 10 years or more
Chance of selling to existing customers vs new prospects60-70% vs 5-20%
Consumer spending on loyal brands/providers57% spend more
Correlation between customer retention increase and profit increase5% increase in retention corresponds to 25% increase in profit

Projecting Changes in Customer Behaviour

Economic conditions and consumer behavior significantly impact loyalty programs and apps. Recent reports suggest a shift towards tangible benefits as part of loyalty programs. For instance, customers are increasingly seeking to benefit through non-transactional channels such as partnerships with similar brands. Creating a unique customer loyalty experience that sets a business apart from its competitors is becoming increasingly challenging and important.

Furthermore, there is a growing demand from consumers for on-the-go access to their loyalty memberships via apps. Consumers desire a seamless, integrated experience between digital and physical in-store activities. To meet these demands, businesses are turning to advanced technologies like AI to collect valuable customer data and deliver highly personalized experiences.

Loyalty Apps

Several trends have emerged recently and are expected to shape the landscape of loyalty apps in the coming years. These include:

Developing Brand Partnerships

Businesses are increasingly forming alliances with like-minded or similar brands to create unique customer experiences. This trend goes beyond purely transactional relationships, offering customers added value through synergistic partnerships.

Card Linking

Card linking allows businesses to track customer data while providing customers with a streamlined and convenient way to access and manage their loyalty rewards. However, businesses need to address security concerns and implementation challenges associated with this approach.

Supporting Sustainable/Environmental/Ethical Causes

Modern consumers expect businesses to prioritize sustainability. By incorporating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives into their loyalty programs, businesses can attract environmentally conscious consumers and enhance their brand reputation.


Gamification involves incorporating game-like elements into loyalty programs to boost customer engagement. Games could involve earning badges, reaching certain milestones, or completing specific tasks. Gamification makes the loyalty program experience fun and engaging, driving customer participation.

Experience-Led Rewards

Experience-led rewards involve offering customers unique experiences as part of the loyalty program. This approach can involve access to exclusive events or unique in-store experiences. Such rewards can foster emotional connections with customers and enhance their loyalty.

The Role of AI in Loyalty Apps

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has tremendous potential to revolutionize loyalty apps. AI can be used to provide better customer support and more personalized interactions. AI-powered loyalty apps can offer personalized rewards, create more engaging experiences for customers, streamline operations, and integrate omnichannel experiences seamlessly.

AI can also provide data-driven insights about customer behavior, aiding businesses in making more informed decisions. This enables businesses to tailor their loyalty programs to the specific needs and preferences of their customers, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. However, businesses must balance the benefits of AI with ethical considerations and the need for data privacy.

The Popularity of Digital Wallets

Digital wallets have become one of the top technology trends in loyalty programs. They offer convenience and personalization, making it easier for customers to access and manage their loyalty rewards. Digital wallets allow users to store loyalty points, discounts, and offers in one place, making it easier to engage with loyalty programs on the go. Moreover, digital wallets can seamlessly integrate with mobile apps, allowing for a cohesive user experience and real-time updates.

Loyalty programs significantly influence consumer behavior and revenue growth, with members spending 12-18% more annually compared to non-members. Top programs increase customer revenue by 15-25% annually. A majority of consumers, 83%, say such programs influence their decision to repurchase from a brand, while 68% feel these programs help brands better understand their buying preferences, further encouraging customer loyalty and increased spending.

Predictive Analytics: A Game Changer for Loyalty Programs

Predictive analytics can revolutionise loyalty programs by providing insights into customer behaviour and enabling personalised experiences. By collecting and analysing customer data, businesses can tailor their loyalty programs to meet the specific needs and preferences of their customers. Predictive analytics can help businesses identify high-value customers, devise targeted retention strategies, and enhance the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

Digital Beacons: Bridging the Gap Between Online and Offline

Digital beacons offer a promising future for loyalty programs by enabling proximity-based engagement and personalised experiences. Beacons enable real-time interactions and offers when customers are in physical proximity to a store. They facilitate tailored promotions based on user behaviour and preferences, which can strengthen customer loyalty and incentivise repeat visits.

Sustainability: A Key Factor in Loyalty Programs

With the growing emphasis on sustainability, businesses are integrating ESG initiatives into their loyalty programs. Customers now expect businesses to prioritise sustainability, and loyalty programs that align with this expectation are more likely to attract and retain customers. By incorporating ESG initiatives into their loyalty programs, businesses can meet customer expectations and enhance their brand reputation.

Given the emerging trends, many businesses are planning to overhaul their loyalty programs in the coming years. Key areas of focus include ESG, card linking, and strategic partnerships or alliances. These strategies are likely to incorporate advanced technologies like AI, machine learning, gamification, and blockchain to boost customer engagement and deliver personalised experiences.

Preparing for the Future of Loyalty Apps

Loyalty programs are a dynamic field that is influenced by customer behavior and economic conditions. To prepare for future advancements and emerging trends in loyalty apps, businesses can adopt several strategies. These include understanding their customers, incorporating predictive analytics into their loyalty programs, creating flexible customer loyalty programs, engaging with customers across social media, and developing a seamless, integrated loyalty program across multiple channels.


The future of loyalty programs is promising, with the integration of advanced technologies like AI and machine learning, gamification, blockchain, and digital beacons shaping the landscape. Coupled with emerging trends like brand partnerships, card linking, support for sustainable causes, and experience-led rewards, businesses are poised to create loyalty programs that not only retain customers but also provide a unique and personalized experience. As businesses navigate this exciting future, the ultimate goal remains the same: to build and nurture lasting relationships with customers through innovative and engaging loyalty programs.