Canadians love loyalty, but they’re most loyal to a deal


How AIR MILES is giving the coalition loyalty model a consumer-first remodel that also benefits brands

Faced with decades-high inflation, Canadians are changing how often they shop, where they shop, and what they buy as they follow deals and lean into loyalty programs. Yet brands and loyalty programs have been slow to respond, acknowledging the shift with solutions that empower consumers.

“In a challenging economic climate marked by mindful spending, retailers need to offer all of the extra value that they can,” says Shawn Stewart, President at AIR MILES. “We know that Canadians are members of more than 13 loyalty programs and active in seven. Instead of fighting against that reality, we’re redesigning AIR MILES as an open and flexible program, creating solutions that can layer on top of existing retailer programs, provide opportunities for CPG brands, and give Canadians the opportunity to earn wherever they shop for groceries.”

The changing landscape of consumer behaviour

AIR MILES’ research has found that consumers overwhelmingly favour retailers that offer loyalty programs over ones that don’t: 82 per cent said they were more likely to shop at a store with a loyalty program, 69 per cent said their retailer of choice was influenced by whether they could earn loyalty points, and 66 per cent will modify where and when they make a purchase to maximize their points.

Nowhere is this more evident than the grocery category, where single-banner loyalty and weekly shops have given way to smaller, more frequent baskets at multiple locations, mixed with larger shops at warehouse clubs or superstores. Enter AIR MILES Receipts, a receipt-scanning program launched nationally in November that offers a fresh way for Canadians to earn rewards on everyday items purchased in-store at most major grocers. Collectors check the AIR MILES app for available offers, shop for eligible products, and scan a photo of their receipts using Optical Recognition Technology within the app, earning Bonus Miles on qualifying purchases.

For collectors, the best part is that you can shop wherever you want, use your retailer-specific loyalty programs to earn rewards on your purchases, and then layer AIR MILES Receipts on top to earn Bonus Miles, effectively reaping the rewards twice on a single basket. This feature amplifies collectors’ earning potential on the same spend. Exactly the kind of flexibility and savings maximization Canadians are seeking.

Ways for brands to boost their business goals

While major grocers benefit from weekly promotions that drive collectors in-store, partner CPG brands enjoy a range of benefits not typically afforded to them:

  • Improve marketing effectiveness: With companies continuously looking for opportunities to drive vertical growth, data-driven marketing for CPGs and brands at scale not only delivers enhanced sales results but also improves marketing efficiency. Through AIR MILES Receipts and its data-driven abilities, partners can better understand the impact that promoting their products is having to drive incremental sales—at major grocers nationwide vs a single banner/group of banners–thus enabling them to better optimize future spend. Brands can analyze the effectiveness of promotions and campaigns, identify ranked SKUs in basket, and assess KPIs for product sales across all categories by Vendor.
  • Drive customer loyalty: Historically, customer loyalty is difficult for CPGs and brands to gauge. Manufacturers often ship their products off to stores for retail sales, with little to no interaction taking place between the brand and their customers. Since AIR MILES can attribute every receipt to a unique customer, brands can identify repeat purchasers and uncover behavioural trends that help them uncover ways to encourage future repeat purchases. Insights also offer a comprehensive perspective across multiple retailers, enabling a deeper understanding of brand interaction and loyalty measurement.
  • Uncover customer insights: With hundreds and thousands of brands and products being sold at any given time, it is becoming increasingly important for CPG brands to drill down to granular-level understanding of their customer profiles. With AIR MILES Receipts, you get access to powerful behavioural and demographic insights to fuel targeted marketing plans, and future product innovation.
  • Acquire new customers: Customer acquisition is often one of the most expensive components of a marketing strategy. CPGs and brands can use the AIR MILES network and AIR MILES Receipts to identify customers who have a high likelihood of purchasing their products but aren’t doing so today.
  • Co-branded marketing partnerships: Many companies looking to reach a larger customer base and enhance their value proposition are turning to co-branding in product marketing. With AIR MILES Receipts’ Basket Interaction Report, brands can tap new markets and expand their reach by identifying what other items a customer is putting into their basket when purchasing products across their categories, and develop co-branded offers that incentivize established consumer behaviour.

“Here at AIR MILES, we pride ourselves on following consumer behaviour and creating ways for Canadians to earn and redeem Miles that fit with their multidimensional lives,” says Stewart. “We’re working to transform AIR MILES into an open and flexible program that can meet the needs of each individual collector, brand, and business – ultimately enhancing profitability and overall competitive advantage,” says Stewart.


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