A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from my bank, letting me know that, due to changing legislation, my debit card rewards program would no longer be rewarding me. Major bummer, dude! As of October 1, the program will be finished and whatever points have been accumulated must be redeemed.
Not wanting anything to go to waste, I logged on to check my balance and my eyes bugged right out of my head. You mean to tell me I had all these points, all this time, and I never did anything with them?!
According to data from Chicago research company Mintel, I’m not the only one who racked up points only to neglect them, as 47 percent of respondents who participate in a debit rewards program have never redeemed their points and most respondents didn’t see a rewards program as a reason to stick with or switch banks.
This also made me wonder about what other loyalty program points that I might have hanging out there – other credit cards? Frequent flier programs? I also take surveys as part of a research panel a few times a month but have never cashed in my points.
I love my bank. I love my debit card. I log on to the bank’s Web site several times a week to manage my accounts. So if a rewards program for a bank I am already interacting with on a weekly basis can’t keep me interested and loyal, what hope do research incentives have?
What kind of action can researchers and panel management companies take to ensure that their own “rewards programs” are being used and instilling loyalty? Do the points accumulate fast enough to redeem items that are valuable in the respondent’s eyes? Is the redemption process easy to understand and navigate? Are the incentives worth the trouble?