Budgeting Expert On What Brand Loyalty Really Looks Like In 2024

"I'm loyal to the brands that understand my loyalty to a deal."
Budgeting Expert On What Brand Loyalty Really Looks Like In 2024
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In light of the pandemic, the concept of loyalty is shifting as cost-conscious Canadians prioritize value over name brands. The anxiety of inflation and economic uncertainty continues to shape our buying decisions, making us ever more discerning about where our money is spent. Surface-level brand promises aren’t enough—shoppers are looking for real, tangible savings.

Toronto-based budgeting expert and financial content creator Deidre Cross says her idea of brand loyalty has dramatically changed since pre-pandemic. In the past, Cross viewed brand loyalty as a luxury she was willing to prioritize. Now that finances are tighter, she must be choosier, which is where a brand connection can also impact her decision-making.  

Brand loyalty versus budgets

“Given the current economic climate, I now see brand loyalty as a balance between price, convenience and value. While it may be more challenging to remain loyal to a brand when budget constraints come into play, the trust, consistency, and alignment with personal values that a brand offers become even more crucial,” says Cross. “While the price may take precedence in certain situations, the emotional connection and reliability of a brand can still heavily influence consumer choices.” 

One area where Canadians have traditionally been loyal to is their usual grocery store, and their favoured brands within it. From knowing where to find items to maximize ease and efficiency, to having a location-driven, stop-on-the-way-home spot, many Canadians have a tie to where they buy their groceries. But with exceptionally high prices over the past year, consumers like Cross have called this devotion into question. 

Consumers are shifting their priorities


Cross now prioritizes stores offering competitive prices, allowing her to stretch her budget further. She’s shifted her loyalty away from a single grocery store and towards a brand that is helping her meet her financial goals, no matter where she shops—enter: AIR MILES. In 2023, the company launched AIR MILES Receipts, allowing collectors to earn Miles on their eligible grocery purchases via in-app offers and receipt-scanning technology. 

“I check the AIR MILES app to explore the exclusive offers available through the Receipts offers. Then, I begin planning my grocery list based on these, along with available coupons and deals in the flyers,” Cross explains. “After completing my purchase, I simply save my receipt and scan it via the AIR MILES app to receive my Bonus Miles. Incorporating the AIR MILES Receipts’ offers into my routine has become second nature, and it has helped me accumulate more Miles while sticking to my budget.” 

With Receipts, AIR MILES is empowering collectors to find the deal that works best for them and earn Bonus Miles almost anywhere. The receipt-scanning technology rewards collectors for spending on groceries virtually everywhere—whether it’s a local store, a big grocery chain, a wholesale club or a big box store. In the past six months, AIR MILES has issued over 7.7M Bonus Miles to collectors using Receipts. This means that Canadians can be less tied to any single store and more loyal to their savings goals.

“Having flexibility while benefiting from the AIR MILES loyalty program allows me to make the most of my purchases by earning Bonus Miles at the stores that offer the best flyer that week,” Cross notes. “This flexibility aligns with my lifestyle and shopping preferences, ensuring that I can maximize the value of the loyalty program without feeling restricted to specific retailers. It offers convenience and freedom, enabling me to shop where it's most convenient without sacrificing the perks of being a loyal customer.” 

The BMO and AIR MILES effect

To stack on the value at a time when Canadians need it most, BMO and AIR MILES have expanded the existing 2x the Miles grocery store multiplier to also include wholesale clubs and liquor stores across Canada—the first of its kind. This allows collectors paying with a BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard to earn two Miles for every $12 spent at any eligible grocery store, wholesale club, or liquor store, while those using their BMO AIR MILES Mastercard earn two Miles for every $25 spent. 

The future of loyalty programs


These efforts in tandem are not only helping Canadians save money but actively putting money back in their wallets. When it comes to supporting Canadians at a time they need it most, AIR MILES is truly putting its money where its mouth is. Proof positive that downturns can push companies into providing better solutions to help consumers. Cross has a sense of optimism for the future of consumer saving and loyalty programs. 

“Economic factors and fluctuations in food prices will continue to influence my flexibility in shopping and budgeting,” she says. “By staying informed about market trends and employing strategies like meal planning, shopping the flyers, and comparison shopping/price matching, I can adapt to changing conditions while still making cost-effective choices.”