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The last two years have seen dramatic and significant changes in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic’s disruption, which in turn has had a tremendous impact on the loyalty industry. As business sustainability and competition became more and more challenging, loyalty emerged as a true winner, helping to retain customers even in precarious circumstances.


While 2020 and 2021 saw a growing awareness and shift in focus towards loyalty marketing, 2022 could become the renaissance year of loyalty marketing. Listed below are 10 popular loyalty trends and predictions for 2022 according to Point of Loyalty CEO Adam Posner, Annex Cloud, and other loyalty leaders.

#1. Loyalty Programs will Emerge as a Winning Medium for Data Collection with Attention to Privacy and Consent

According to Eco Consultancy, 92% of leading marketers believe in using first-party data to continuously build an understanding of what customers want. And with Google planning to phase out third-party cookies by 2023, the era of third-party data is coming to an end. In 2021, loyalty programs emerged as the most viable means to procure data ethically and legally based on consent. With consent and adherence to global data protection guidelines becoming imperative, loyalty programs will emerge as a winning medium for extracting zero- and first-party data that beats second- and third-party data in quality, authenticity, and accuracy.

Annex Cloud’s Take:

Agreed! Loyalty is the answer so many brands are looking for as they scramble to find accurate data to support their acquisition efforts. Our hope is these organizations learn that loyalty brings much more value than the priority focus on acquisition. As you dig in and realize that more than 60% of new customers churn, knowing who these customers are right at the beginning of the relationship with the support of a loyalty initiative enables companies to retain significantly more first-time customers and pave the way for lasting bonds.

Learn more about loyalty and first-party data

Our Partners Weigh In

“As the ability to access third-party data becomes increasingly more difficult, ecommerce companies are going to have to rely on zero- and first-party data to market their products more effectively. A recent report on data and marketing from the IAB tells us although nearly 60% of industry leaders expect ad campaign measurement to be affected by the loss of third-party cookies and identifiers, they are not taking action to mitigate the effects moving forward. Loyalty programs not only help increase the lifetime value of first-time customers by providing additional reasons to build an affinity for a certain brand and become a repeat customer, but also give companies the opportunity to acquire feedback from customers to ensure they can personalize their customer journey into the future. This generates a very valuable asset for the business. Their own proprietary datasets allow them to run AI and generate insights for ongoing improvement. In our experience, investors place a much higher multiple on eCommerce businesses that can do this predictably without having to rely purely on ads to drive revenue.”

Jacob Cook, CEO & Co-founder,

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“As the ability to access third-party data becomes increasingly more difficult, ecommerce companies are going to have to rely on zero- and first-party data to market their products more effectively. A recent report on data and marketing from the IAB tells us Although nearly 60% of industry leaders expect ad campaign measurement to be affected by the loss of third-party cookies and identifiers, they are not taking action to mitigate the effects moving forward. Loyalty programs not only help increase the lifetime value of first-time customers by providing additional reasons to build an affinity for a certain brand and become a repeat customer, but also give companies the opportunity to acquire feedback from customers to ensure they can personalize their customer journey into the future. This generates a very valuable asset for the business. Their own proprietary datasets allow them to run AI and generate insights for ongoing improvement. In our experience, investors place a much higher multiple on eCommerce businesses that can do this predictably without having to rely purely on ads to drive revenue.”


“Changes in iOS 15 have already started the slow decline of cookies. We’re seeing marketers forced to abandon some of their past marketing tactics, but we think it’s a massive opportunity to differentiate yourself from the noise. We completely agree loyalty is a great way to target and reward customers where past activities are phased out.”

Darin Lynch, Founder & CEO,

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“Changes in iOS 15 have already started the slow decline of cookies. We’re seeing marketers forced to abandon some of their past marketing tactics, but we think it’s a massive opportunity to differentiate yourself from the noise. We completely agree loyalty is a great way to target and reward customers where past activities are phased out.”

#2. Loyalty Programs will Drive Demand for Chief Data Officers and Data Analyst Roles

After Capital One appointed its first Chief Data Officer (CDO) in 2002, only a handful of businesses followed suit. Firstly, because fewer data protection laws were in place and secondly, there simply wasn’t a dire need for dedicated personnel to oversee data-related activities. We’ve come a long way since, with compliance to global data protection laws becoming a prerequisite to complying with consent. This is why more and more brands are hiring CDOs. As loyalty programs become the prime source of data extraction in 2022, a dedicated department undertaking the responsibility of ethical and legal data extraction and transfer processes will be a must.

Annex Cloud’s Take:

We agree but, taking this a step further, we see loyalty becoming more integrated across the organization. Perhaps not in 2022 but within the next few years, we’ll see more and more organizations tying loyalty directly to their customer experience efforts—where loyalty and CX span the entire organization fully integrating their focus, priority, and data throughout.

Our Partners Weigh In

“Most organizations across the ecommerce ecosystem are still attempting to figure out how to best unify their data and simplify insights for ongoing improvement. This is tricky to pull off because it relies on both sophisticated technical talent that knows the domain as well as powerful technology to sift through datasets and provide real results with AI. Without the right team of experts and datasets in place, to visualize and automate the insights, companies miss their window to build loyalty. This often results in millions of dollars in lost revenue or wasted marketing dollars thrown into uninformed acquisition campaigns. In addition, due to COVID forcing consumer behavior online, every company is suddenly having to drive revenue for their business through a digital experience. Unfortunately, we’re in a labor market where these experts can be extremely hard to come by if they can be found at all. Short term, we encourage brands to be looking at a technology and talent combination that gets them up and running while not losing market share to competitors as consumer loyalty shifts in real time.”

Jacob Cook, CEO & Co-founder,

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“Most organizations across the ecommerce ecosystem are still attempting to figure out how to best unify their data and simplify insights for ongoing improvement. This is tricky to pull off because it relies on both sophisticated technical talent that knows the domain as well as powerful technology to sift through datasets and provide real results with AI. Without the right team of experts and datasets in place, to visualize and automate the insights, companies miss their window to build loyalty. This often results in millions of dollars in lost revenue or wasted marketing dollars thrown into uninformed acquisition campaigns. In addition, due to COVID forcing consumer behavior online, every company is suddenly having to drive revenue for their business through a digital experience. Unfortunately, we’re in a labor market where these experts can be extremely hard to come by if they can be found at all. Short term, we encourage brands to be looking at a technology and talent combination that gets them up and running while not losing market share to competitors as consumer loyalty shifts in real time.”


“Further specialization of the C-Suite is definitely here. Companies are overflowing with data, but few actually use that data in actionable ways to improve customer experience, increase revenue, or retarget customers. End-to-end customer experience is a huge area of improvement for most businesses to gain loyal customers in an era when loyalty is more difficult than ever.”

Darin Lynch, Founder & CEO,

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“Further specialization of the C-Suite is definitely here. Companies are overflowing with data,but few actually use that data in actionable ways to improve customer experience, increase revenue, or retarget customers. End-to-end customer experience is a huge area of improvementfor most businesses to gain loyal customers in an era when loyalty is more difficult than ever.”

#3. Cryptocurrencies and Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) will Become Mainstream in the Loyalty Industry

One of the most popular predictions by Adam Posner and numerous loyalty leaders is NFTs and cryptocurrencies taking center stage as a way to capture more loyal customers. The popularity of cryptocurrencies and NFTs has skyrocketed in the past two years and top brands like Estee Lauder, Jimmy Choo, Nike, Starbucks, and McDonalds have already begun to make these part of their loyalty strategy. One of Estee Lauder’s brands, Clinique, was the first to hold an NFT raffle. Jimmy Choo launched mystery box NFTs which immediately sold out, reinforcing the potential of NFTs in the years to come. The year 2022 will see more and more brands following suit and improving customer loyalty through cryptocurrencies and NFTs which add value to the overall customer experience and are more appreciated than tangible rewards.

Annex Cloud’s Take:

NFTs are a great way to create something unique to your brand. Providing your customers access to these through a loyalty program or, better yet, offering exclusive assess through VIP status within a loyalty program will go a long way in building a strong emotional bond between these valued customers and your brand. We expect to see more and more brands offer NFTs for purchase as well as rewards within their loyalty initiatives.

Learn more about Cryptocurrencies and NFTs

#4. Loyalty Programs will Shift Focus from Birthday/Anniversary Rewards and Miscellaneous Perks to Solving Problems

Forrester’s March 2021 report showed that customers in the USA, UK, France, and India trust brands more than reigning governments. This means brands now have an inherent responsibility to drive change and do good in society to uphold the high stature customers have bestowed upon them. Adam Posner predicts loyalty programs will undertake more responsibility toward social causes. Brands are gradually moving from rewarding customers for their purchases, to rewarding behaviors that are conducive to the environment and add value to the overall social construct. Marks and Spencer’s donate to charities like Cool Earth, The Marine Protection Society, and others every time a customer purchases from the brand. Tesco Clubcard enables its members to donate their vouchers to charities. In 2022, Qantas Frequent Flier is set to introduce a ‘Green Tier’ to offset emissions in the everyday lives of their customers and help them earn valuable Qantas Points. There is a conscious shift in customer sentiment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic—and more and more brands are expected to support this by addressing ecological and economic concerns.

Annex Cloud’s Take:

Reading this prediction for the first time, we thought “isn’t this old news?”. But then we dug in and looked at most programs in the market. Many still have this “lite-personalization” approach. We agree with Adam Posner, that we’ll see much more focus on social responsibility and causes. Plus, a broader focus on personalization.

Annex Cloud attests customers are indeed holding brands accountable. Customers expect companies to work harder toward sustainability and stand up for social causes.

In addition, customers want recognition, they want brands to meet them halfway to create a two-way value exchange. This year will see more brands implementing more personalized recognition strategies. This recognition will run the spectrum from notes of appreciation to badges, “awarding” customers with an achievement badge to recognize their behavior and loyalty.

Our Partners Weigh In

“Completely agree. We desperately need loyalty to rebrand from ‘birthday discounts’ to a truly powerful business driver. Customers should be vocal with all companies to demand strong online experiences. Let’s leave ‘$1 Spent is 1 Point Earned’ back in 2010.”

Darin Lynch, Founder & CEO,

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“Completely agree. We desperately need loyalty to rebrand from ‘birthday discounts’ to a truly powerful business driver. Customers should be vocal with all companies to demand strong online experiences. Let’s leave ‘$1 Spent is 1 Point Earned’ back in 2010.”

#5. Brands will further Leverage FOMO

For years brands have leveraged fear, uncertainty, and doubt in their marketing efforts to create urgency, exclusivity, and a limited-supply mindset with the end goal being to motivate customers and prospects to act. The millennials and Gen Zs have a term for this—FOMO—which is an acronym for ‘fear of missing out’. From popular books to cosmetics and stocks, the fastest-selling products remain the most coveted. Limited NFTs and unique or special loyalty rewards have created FOMO. Customers who successfully grab these limited-edition items proudly show off their collectibles on social platforms and associate with the brand on an emotional level rather than simply a transactional level. In 2022, various brands are expected to create FOMO with their limited-edition deals and special rewards as a part of their loyalty strategy to emotionally tie the customer with the brand.

Annex Cloud’s Take:

We agree! FOMO is a powerful marketing tool. In the past, marketing and loyalty gurus leveraged FOMO in the form of platinum/black cards or special VIP status. In 2022, NFTs, special events, and limited-edition products and product rewards will leverage the FOMO strategy to create market buzz. In fact, Annex Cloud has clients that are already hosting special auctions and events as well as creating limited-supply items especially for loyalty redemption. These programs are seeing higher engagement and redemption rates compared to other marketing campaigns.

#6. There will be a Significant Rise in Coalition and Partnership Programs

Hinge’s 2021 High Growth Study ranked partnership marketing as the seventh most impactful strategy, ranking above event sponsorships, blogging, and even email marketing campaigns. From Fendi and Skims, e.l.f. and Chipotle, IKEA and Lego, and Dicks and Nike, 2021 saw a string of unexpected collaborations between brands from various verticals. Considering the success rate of these and many other collaborations, it’s likely this trend will continue in 2022 and extend further into loyalty marketing. The simple logic behind coalition or partnership programs is to offer better rewards and customer experiences. This strategy has proven to be highly successful. To stay ahead of the trend, 2022 will see many more interesting collaborations that will offer a greater variety of customer rewards while creating exciting social hype and buzz around the brands.

Annex Cloud’s Take:

Erin Raese, SVP, Annex Cloud, states, “Personally, I’ve been a proponent of partnerships for more than 20 years. They offer the tremendous opportunity to extend brand exposure and increase overall brand value. It’s great that brands are opening their eyes to the true potential of partnered programs. The greater trend we see here is the ability to extend your brand outside of your environment, into places where your customers spend their time and money. Bringing your brand into their daily lives builds stronger brand loyalty and creates stronger emotional bonds .”

A potential challenge to overcome is the ability to track and understand the value of the partnership to your bottom line and to your customers. Organizations like Annex Cloud have the technology that enables you to track not only the transactional behaviors but also the social activity and sentiment.

Our Partners Weigh In

“This is a very interesting trend in that it mirrors the trend in ecosystems … where brands do not need to own all the pieces but can connect to other ecosystems and provide more value to the consumer.”

Brian Dearth, Head of Strategy & Growth,

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“This is a very interesting trend in that it mirrors the trend in ecosystems … where brands do not need to own all the pieces but can connect to other ecosystems and provide more value to the consumer.”


“Partnerships are a powerful tool. No doubt about it. The key is to actually offer benefits to your customers. If you’re partnered up with them, what are they getting from you beyond a weekly email? Reward your best (and most loyal) customers with the real stuff.”

Darin Lynch, Founder & CEO,

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“Partnerships are a powerful tool. No doubt about it. The key is to actually offer benefits to your customers. If you’re partnered up with them, what are they getting from you beyond a weekly email? Reward your best (and most loyal) customers with the real stuff.”

#7. The Continued Rise of Emotional Loyalty

One of the most important learnings of 2020 and 2021 was that emotions are an integral part of business strategy. There’s a solid reason why local businesses, brands, and products that evoked nostalgia among consumers flourished in the past two years. Adam Posner points out the buzz around the three Bs—Behavior, Belief, and Belonging—and their significance in his predictions for 2022. They each play a major role in customer loyalty today and will for years to come. While loyalty created by trending campaigns and competitive prices may increase revenue, it’s emotional loyalty that’ll guarantee retention rate and, more importantly, long-term allegiance.

Annex Cloud’s Take:

We love Adam’s 3 Bs—Behavior, Belief, and Belonging. We’ve all seen the increase in membership programs and we’ll continue to see a rise in this strategy. Mathis Brothers, a furniture store in the States, recently launched a membership loyalty program that combines membership and traditional loyalty that includes earning points and achieving tiers. In a less traditional fashion, Taco Bell recently started their taco club where, with a $10 Taco Lover’s Pass, customers can redeem one taco per day for 30 days.

We see additional growth in creating or allowing your customers to create a community around your brand. We believe the more inclusive a brand can be in combination with building a community where customers can come together around their brand experiences, the stronger the customer relationships and emotional bonds. Giving customers the opportunity and forum to come together and share their experiences amplifies the positive experience. This causes a ripple effect where the core community brings in friends, creating an even stronger impact to a brand’s bottom line.

Learn more about creating emotional loyalty

#8. Card-linking will Become a Norm

In the Australian edition of For Love or Money™ 2021, loyalty programs saw a 400% increase in card-linking. It’s perhaps the next logical step for loyalty programs with everyone going cash-less, and even card-less, globally. It also enables the brand to analyze specific purchase behavior with granular transaction data at its disposal to create personalized experiences. By 2022, card integration will be a norm in loyalty marketing, offering faster service and a frictionless customer experience along with flexibility for customers. More activity is expected in 2022 and years to come, with the use of card-linking technology. Starbucks has taken this a step further by offering its members stored value of cash and other cryptocurrency payment options.

Annex Cloud’s Take:

We agree. We’re seeing more and more of our clients and prospects look at card-linking options to further streamline their customers’ experience by making it easier for them to do business, transact faster, and in a more streamlined manner. In addition, the technology makes a customer more “sticky” to your brand. As we all know, with todays’ customer, their time is a currency. Therefore, adding in benefits like card-linking will go a long way in building customer bonds.

Learn more about card-linked loyalty

Our Partners Weigh In

“Cash-less, auto-fill, fast checkout are all here to stay. If you’re forcing loyal customers (they’ve already spent money with you before) to fill out their information every time, it’s time to do something new. Card-linking, customer profiles, pre-filled checkout options are faster, cause less customer friction, and are so much better. Make it easy to spend money with you.”

Darin Lynch, Founder & CEO,

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“Cash-less, auto-fill, fast checkout are all here to stay. If you’re forcing loyal customers (they’ve already spent money with you before) to fill out their information every time, it’s time to do something new. Card-linking, customer profiles, pre-filled checkout options are faster, cause less customer friction, and are so much better. Make it easy to spend money with you.”

#9. Personalization and CX will Remain the Prime Focus of Brands in 2022

In 2020 and 2021, customers globally got a taste of premium customer experiences and personalized services. As businesses struggled to retain customers during the pandemic, they began improving CX and offering personalized experiences to customers that offered better value for their time and money. In 2022, customers will want the services provided in the pandemic era to become the new normal. Forrester predicts brands that are successful in transitioning to the new normal will avoid wholesale reversion and can analyze current customer data and insights to reevaluate what services to keep, toss, or improve. Individualized experiences are a huge part of the new normal in customer experience and keeping up with customers’ growing expectations will be essential for businesses in 2022.

Annex Cloud’s Take:

For sure, personalized customer experience is going to take center stage not just in 2022 but also in the years to come—and loyalty will have a significant role to play. Loyalty strategies will enable businesses to collect data, learn about their customers’ shopping patterns and factors that influence their purchase behavior, and more. Our in-depth paper, Loyalty—Your Secret Weapon to Deliver Individualized Experiences, explores how loyalty marketing can help with data accumulation and aid in designing customized experiences.

Our Partners Weigh In

“Consumers expect their digital brand experience to be personalized but not intrusive. However, due to stricter privacy regulations being rolled out by governments across the globe (and most recently from heavy hitters like Apple), the ability to ensure those expectations are met has become increasingly more difficult. Many companies have suddenly been surprised at their customers’ desire to be recognized and rewarded in real time. However, without the datasets to do so, it’s incredibly difficult to accomplish at scale. The solution is to deploy a data strategy anchored on specific milestones that can be automated to surprise and delight without sacrificing margins. To retain customers, and ultimately ensure profitability, business leaders must think ahead and hedge on customer’s expectations.”

Jacob Cook, CEO & Co-founder,

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“Consumers expect their digital brand experience to be personalized but not intrusive. However, due to stricter privacy regulations being rolled out by governments across the globe (and most recently from heavy hitters like Apple), the ability to ensure those expectations are met has become increasingly more difficult. Many companies have suddenly been surprised at their customers’ desire to be recognized and rewarded in real time. However, without the datasets to do so, it’s incredibly difficult to accomplish at scale. The solution is to deploy a data strategy anchored on specific milestones that can be automated to surprise and delight without sacrificing margins. To retain customers, and ultimately ensure profitability, business leaders must think ahead and hedge on customer’s expectations.”


“Absolutely. You have the data on your loyal customer, use it! Deliver great, unique experiences and you’ll both be thrilled by the results.”

Darin Lynch, Founder & CEO,

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“Absolutely. You have the data on your loyal customer, use it! Deliver great, unique experiences and you’ll both be thrilled by the results.”


“It’s amazing in 2022 that we’re still talking about personalization and great CX, but we are. Brands are still too focused on quality and convenience and not enough on the means to the ends people seek. This comes from knowing them (data), applying it in the right way (platforms), and crafting a customized experience (CX). But it must start with a strategy as to how they’re creating that partnership with the consumer.”

Brian Dearth, Head of Strategy & Growth,

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“It’s amazing in 2022 that we’re still talking about personalization and great CX, but we are. Brands are still too focused on quality and convenience and not enough on the means to the ends people seek. This comes from knowing them (data), applying it in the right way (platforms), and crafting a customized experience (CX). But it must start with a strategy as to how they’re creating that partnership with the consumer.”

#10. “Me Loyalty” Is Coming

This one is a prediction straight from Annex Cloud. Organizations are adopting loyalty strategies faster than ever before, because of the value of the data and the fact that loyalty strategies work. Annex Cloud is seeing a new type of “program” emerge—one that doesn’t use points or miles. One that’s based on understanding your customer, their wants, needs, overall spend, and more. One that takes this information and creates individualized loyalty program experiences for each individual. We’ll see the concept of “me loyalty” come to life—my loyalty program, designed just for me, delivering what I want and desire.

Let Annex Cloud Help You Turn These Trends into Opportunities

Annex Cloud has the technology and expertise to help you embrace these trends and turn them into growth opportunities. Our Loyalty Experience Platform™ is recognized by industry leading analysts, and our proven success process has helped hundreds of global brands lead the way and grow with loyalty.

Our Partners Weigh In

“We love this future. How do we design loyalty programs to be tailored exactly to the customer? We’d love to see this at every online seller.”

Darin Lynch, Founder & CEO,

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“We love this future. How do we design loyalty programs to be tailored exactly to the customer? We’d love to see this at every online seller.”

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