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    Reward Program Members Are 'Best Word-of-mouth Champions': Study

    Research finds such shoppers crave deeper relationships with favorite brands and are searching for ways to provide feedback.

    Consumers who are loyalty reward program members are far more likely to be word-of-mouth (WOM) champions for their favorite brands than non-members, and the more active their program participation, the more likely they are to exhibit WOM behavior, according to a study by Colloquy.

    Among the key highlights of the "The New Champion Customers: Measuring Word-of-Mouth Activity Among Reward Program Members" study:

    -- Reward program members are 70 percent more likely to be WOM champions (defined as customers who are "actively recommending" a product, service or brand) than the general population.

    -- Fifty-five percent of reward program members are self-described WOM champions.

    -- Thirty-two percent of non-reward program members are self-described WOM champions.

    -- Sixty-eight percent of WOM champions in reward programs will recommend a program sponsor's brand within a year.

    -- Actively participating reward program members are over three times more likely to be WOM champions.

    Reward program members who have redeemed for experiential rewards are 30 percent more likely to be WOM champions than those who have redeemed for discounts.

    The Colloquy research also examined the motivations of WOM champions, asking why they engaged in WOM activity regarding their favorite products and brands and what categories of offers and information they were most likely to pass along to others within their networks. The top five motivations of WOM champions were: to tell manufacturers what I think (73 percent), to get smart about products/services (68 percent), to be the first to discover new items (68 percent), to get free product samples (63 percent) and to share my opinion with others (61 percent).

    "These statistics reinforce the importance of social capital to WOM champions," noted Colloquy partner Kelly Hlavinka. "Indeed, the self-reported motivations of these consumers reflect its importance -- 'to be first' and 'to share my opinion' were both top five motivations. What surprised us were the top two motivations for WOM Champions -- 'to tell manufacturers what I think' and 'to get smart about products and services.'"

    Hlavinka, who co-authored the study, added that the findings suggest WOM champions “crave a deeper relationship with their favorite brands and are searching for ways to provide feedback. Four of these top five responses also reflect the importance of confirming self-worth -- that is, a champion feels important when she tells a company what they could do better, when she can share information with her peer group, be 'in the know' and share her opinions. And, of course, 63 percent of champions admit that they engage in WOM activities to earn free stuff."

    The full report is available as a free download at www.Colloquy.com/whitepaper, and it will also be presented as a free Webinar March 5 at 1 PM EST. To register, visit www.Colloquy.com/wom-webinar.

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