Advertising is at an all-time high, with many advertisements intent on showing you why it’s better if you stray from your current shopping habits or service provider to make use of external businesses. Companies constantly advertise how much cheaper their products are than anywhere else or that they offer bonuses and perks to those who switch to their services - and for good reason.

There’s a great deal of competition out there now, with retailers being forced to restructure to deal with the convenience and availability of online businesses, leading to around 16 shops closing each day, per bbc.co.uk. This has given rise to online comparison websites which, in turn, help to fuel the peoples’ desire to go from business-to-business to find the cheapest deal at every time of need.

With so much competition and so many services tailored to encourage the habit of shopping around, are there any times when loyalty pays off?

Pros and cons of remaining loyal

A lot of loyalty that remains these days comes out of habit, which isn’t a bad thing. Frequenting the same stores or using the same services is comforting to many, allows you to build a routine, and even become friendly with the people who work for the business. There’s also the added bonus that you know exactly what you’re going to get each time, reducing the risk of trying something new and ending up with an inferior experience, product, or service.

That said, the bottom line for many is the price. Even though you may be granted certain privileges for being a frequent customer, a different business offering their products or services cheaper may still be enough to draw you away, which is why supermarkets like Lidl, Tesco, and Asda boast their competing prices in adverts. There’s also the instance of rewards for switching ongoing service providers, such as banks and utilities. It’s now commonplace for banks to offer cash for people who switch, such as HSBC offering £175, M&S Bank offering a £100 gift card and another £80 in a year, and Barclays offering £120 in cash-back.

While it seems that many of the biggest businesses in each industry are competing for new customers, they still understand that customer retention is key. It may seem like the system is now set up to encourage customers to jump from one business to another, but as shown by forbes.com, customer retention is more valuable than acquisition. Some businesses will aim to achieve this by keeping their prices very low and competitive, dominating the increasingly popular comparison websites, but some go further to encourage customer retention by deploying loyalty programs.

Businesses want your loyalty

Many major businesses in highly competitive sectors offer loyalty programs of sorts to encourage customers to keep coming back. The most obvious examples of these are the supermarkets. Brands like Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, and Co-Op all offer loyalty cards with varying levels of rewards and benefits for customers who use the cards on a regular basis. Some allow customers to collect points to eventually use instead of cash, while others often send out coupons for money off of your most regularly purchased items as well as others which may be of interest to you.

However, loyalty schemes aren’t often the focus of advertising campaigns or regular features on most comparison websites because a lot of the focus is on bringing in new customers with special offers, low prices, or new products. Some brands simply hope that low prices are enough to earn loyalty, but the customer experience and quality of the product or service is often a major factor. So, to enhance this aspect, customers within the doors, or virtual walls, of a business will be offered access to the program. While it’s not often the focus, some comparison websites do go as far as including information about these all-important loyalty programs.

One of the most competitive sectors in the UK is that of online gaming. Knowing that people don’t want to always chase welcome bonuses and would like to find a rewarding website to join, casinos.info showcases both the array of welcome bonuses on offer and the loyalty programs that include exclusive bonuses and promotions to regular players at each website. Through this being included in the reviews, potential players can weigh the benefits of not just joining for a quick bonus, but also enjoying the luxury of not needing to search elsewhere while reaping the benefits of loyalty.

Pricing is still the focus for many customers, with comparison websites aiding in the search for the lowest price point or the largest welcome bonus. However, people still like familiarity and convenience, so anything that encourages them to stick to their routine and frequent the same places will go a long way towards retaining their custom. Companies who, perhaps, don’t offer the cheapest products and instead focus on the customer experience and quality of their products often decide to compete at this level, rewarding those who choose their offering frequently over those who battle for the lowest prices.

So, there are still some instances where loyalty does pay off for the modern consumer. From supermarkets to online gaming, even down to your local hairdressers, there is bound to be a business offering benefits for your loyalty.