Brand loyalty through loyalty programs in the South African banking industry: perspectives from gen Y and Z

The recent growing popularity of loyalty programmes across industries has sparked a whole lot of interest from not only researchers, but also consultancy firms and practitioners alike. Though there has been noticeable research conducted on loyalty programmes in the preceding decade, not enough focus has been channelled on the youthful age cohorts (Gen Y & Z) in South Africa, especially in a sophisticated industry such as banking. A subject of loyalty programmes is understood and accepted to be premised around the relationship marketing theory, which primarily encourages long-term bonds with customers. As such, the study then sought to assess the intermediating influence of customer brand experience, consumer-brand engagement (CBE) and emotional brand attachment in the relationship between loyalty programmes and brand loyalty in the South African Banking sector. The methodology relied on a cross-sectional survey design in a form of a self administered online questionnaire partially adapted from preceding studies. Data was then collected from 265 Generation Y and Z targeted respondents who are retail banks loyalty programme members. The study assessed seven hypothesis utilizing standard regression techniques and the study findings presented demonstrate that all seven hypotheses were supported. The findings therefore reveal that loyalty programmes can play a positive role in building customer brand experience, Consumer-Brand engagement (CBE), emotional brand attachment and subsequently brand loyalty. The study not only subsidizes the existing knowledge on loyalty programmes among youthful age cohorts, but it also assists with relevant context to a developing market such as South Africa. It must also be mentioned that the study can aid marketers and practitioners with formulating attractive and thorough loyalty programmes, particularly targeted at the youthful market in South Africa.
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Management in Strategic Marketing to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2022
Brand loyalty, Customer brand experience, Customer-brand engagement, Emotional brand attachement, Loyalty programmes