Today the average shopper in Europe owns seven loyalty cards. At one time, we probably had one or two cards for those stores we visited regularly and considered to be our retailer of choice. This concept now seems very old-fashioned at a time when three-quarters of shoppers believe supermarkets are largely interchangeable, and around two-thirds visit more than one store.

With so much choice and so many loyalty schemes, the concept of customer loyalty is questionable. But does this mean that retailers’ loyalty programs have become useless? Well if you compare them with the type of loyalty programs run by airlines, it’s a very different experience. As a frequent flyer, you tend to fly with the same airlines again and again. The benefits are clear to see, the more you fly, the more you get in return, whether that’s points or upgrades. But in many supermarkets, the benefits are the same, regardless of the number of visits you make.

But clearly loyalty programs are still very important to grocery shoppers, and remain an important component of the shopping experience. It is currently the third most compelling reason to select a retailer (source: IRI).