Comparing the Effectiveness of Rewards and Individually Targeted Coupons in Loyalty Programs

Sebastian Gabel, Daniel Guhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Loyalty programs (LP) and rewards are ubiquitous in retailing, designed to increase customer expenditures and retention, gather abundant customer-level data, and design individually targeted coupons. Although studies have analyzed the individual impacts of LP rewards and targeted coupons on shopping trip incidence and expenditures, they have not compared the two instruments. By investigating the LP of a leading German grocery retailer that uses both LP rewards (points to redeem for free products) and individually targeted coupons, the current study establishes a comparison of their profitability and relative contributions to increasing shopping trips and expenditures. The investigated LP also relies on in-store kiosks to interact with customers, so they can decide when to redeem LP points and request coupons. By jointly modeling the effects of LP point redemptions and coupons on shopping trip incidence and expenditures, using their decision to access the kiosk as a dependent variable and rich data that span thousands of customers over 60 weeks, this study reveals that both instruments increase shopping trip incidence, kiosk access, and expenditures. The LP point redemptions have a stronger effect on shopping trip incidence; coupons have a stronger effect on kiosk access. Although a single redemption of LP points leads to a greater increase in expenditures than a single coupon redemption (€1.46 vs. €0.48), coupons yield three times greater expenditures after controlling for usage frequency; lower discounts also contribute to coupons’ higher profitability. Therefore, LP point redemptions and individually targeted coupons are complementary tools for retailers. This empirical study provides practical insights and pertinent managerial implications regarding the management and design of modern LPs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-411
JournalJournal of Retailing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the editor and the entire team of reviewers for very detailed comments and helpful suggestions. Their input has resulted in considerable improvements in the paper's positioning and research methodology. We also thank Daniel Ringel for his insightful comments. Steffen Jahn and Denis Vuckovac provided useful feedback on earlier versions of the paper. We thank the Humboldt Lab for Empirical and Quantitative Research (LEQR) for providing computing services. Daniel Guhl gratefully acknowledges financial support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) through CRC TRR 190 (project number 280092119). The authors are listed in alphabetical order and have contributed equally to the project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


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