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Runa Study Explores Consumers' Frustrations With Rewards, Finding That Most Americans Can't Spend Them As They Want

28 Sep, 2023, 09:00 ET

At a time when rewards are most in need, 50% of people are dissatisfied by having limited to no choice in how they receive the value they earn

LONDON, Sept. 28, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Runa, the digital value infrastructure for instant global B2C payouts, today released "From Points to Purchases", a report assessing how consumers leverage rewards and loyalty programs in inflationary times. The study delves into the realm of rewards programs, assessing levels of consumer satisfaction, and exploring the underlying motivations that drive engagement.

The report sheds light on multiple aspects of reward programs that frequently frustrate consumers, demonstrating the need for programs to modernize in order to meet customers' expectations. Among US reward program participants, half (50%) expressed increasing frustration at the lack of choice in how they receive their rewards. Additionally, 38% identified the challenges they encounter in earning rewards as a primary source of dissatisfaction. Other common causes of frustration include the difficulty of redeeming rewards (32%), and that rewards are not meaningful or substantial (31%).

As consumers become more budget-conscious amidst the turbulent economic climate and rising costs, they are increasingly cautious about where, when, and how much they spend. In this context, widespread dissatisfaction with rewards programs is particularly relevant, especially given that nearly 60% of rewards program participants intend to rely increasingly on rewards to offset rising expenses within the next 12 months. This percentage is even higher among millennials and Gen Z customers (64% and 62% respectively).

More than 50% of participants encounter difficulties in spending rewards according to their preferences, underscoring how consumers possess large quantities of untapped digital value that remains inaccessible for them to use as they see fit. Enabling individuals to unlock their unused digital value is crucial in order for them to use their rewards as a means of cutting costs and increasing their financial flexibility.

"In today's economic climate, in which consumers seek ways to make their assets go further, the freedom to choose where and how they spend becomes even more crucial," said Aron Alexander, CEO and Founder of Runa. "Stored digital value earned by reward program participants can help consumers bridge financial gaps, and the fact that much of this value is inaccessible is a clear shortcoming of reward programs today. Businesses must recognize the necessity of transforming the rewards they pay out into a more liquid, 'cash-like' form, in order to unlock their potential and adapt to the evolving preferences of consumers."

The vast majority of consumers (90%) believe that rewards programs have played a significant role in enhancing their overall customer experience. This statistic illuminates that reward programs have the potential to positively impact customer-brand relationships, further highlighting the need for reward programs to dovetail more closely with customers' expectations in order to become even more impactful.

Other key findings in the study include:

  • Grocery stores are the preferred place to earn rewards for Gen X and older participants, while Gen Z showed a preference for online retailers. 42% of Gen Z participants also prefer earning rewards from cashback apps.
  • Gender differences impact reward usage. More women than men use rewards when making purchases. 38% of women consistently use rewards for purchases compared to 31% of men. Women also prefer to cash out their rewards in smaller amounts compared to men, with 60% of women cashing out for amounts lower than $25.
    Across all age groups, the most prominent reason cited for satisfaction with rewards programs is the tangible value they provide for money, with 61% of respondents highlighting this aspect.
  • The data for From Points to Purchases was gathered in July 2023, drawing insights from 1,200 reward and loyalty program participants in the US, aged between 18-60 years. All participants in the survey are actively engaged in at least one rewards program.

About Runa

Runa is a digital value infrastructure that enables people to pay and get paid by anyone, anywhere, instantly. The Runa network reaches more than 1 billion people and connects merchants, organizations, and individuals for fast, affordable, and data-rich payouts in more than 30 countries and 20 currencies. 

Organizations of all types rely on Runa's infrastructure to power the movement of digital value and better serve their constituents. Runa provides direct connections to its network partners, enabling value to move more efficiently and economically than legacy solutions. Thousands of the world's top brands use Runa to reward, incentivize, and disburse funds.

Runa is headquartered in London with a globally distributed team. Our investors include Element Ventures, CommerzVentures, Clocktower Ventures, Volution Capital, AlbionVC, and SAP. For more information, visit