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New IRI Research Finds Pandemic Continues to Drive Consumer Attitudes in Q1 2021; Good Value and Strong Loyalty Programs Fuel Decision Making

IRI’s Q1 2021 Consumer Connect Survey Notes Consumer Sentiment on the Rebound After Dismal 2020

CHICAGO — March 16, 2021 — While consumer sentiment remains in recovery mode from the global health and financial crisis that started in 2020, IRI® Consumer Connect survey results find that consumers’ self-reporting of their financial health in Q1 2021 is on par with pre-pandemic Q1 2020 levels. However, there appears to be a delta between consumer sentiment and actual consumer shopping patterns.

Despite a positive outlook, consumer habits formed during the pandemic may be here to stay, with consumers reporting they still prefer to shop at fewer stores and are less inclined to clip coupons due to the risk of hand-to-hand contact. However, apprehension about clipping coupons has not lessened consumers' desire for a deal, with a majority of respondents reporting habits such as trying new, lower-priced brands or buying store-brand products to save money.  

"In 2020, we saw an economic slowdown and unprecedented shifts in consumer behavior, but there are opportunities for nimble and creative CPG retailers and manufacturers to drive loyalty in 2021," said Joan Driggs, vice president of Content and Thought Leadership, IRI. "Our Q1 2021 Consumer Connect survey focuses on loyalty programs, and we found that retailers and manufacturers that embrace and enhance loyalty programs as well as continue giving consumers multiple options for making purchases, such as online ordering or click-and-collect, can improve their chances of capturing consumers’ attention and allegiance."

What Drives Shopper Loyalty?
Results from the Q1 2021 Consumer Connect survey reveal that drug and grocery channels lead the pack in loyalty and reward adoption when segmented by income level or generation. By income, high-income households are the most likely to hold reward memberships across most channels except for convenience and dollar stores, both of which saw more low-income household subscriptions. Results by generation fluctuate between channels, with Generation X (79%) most likely to subscribe to drug loyalty programs, Generation Z (80%) most likely to subscribe to grocery loyalty programs and millennials (68%) most likely to subscribe to an online loyalty program with an annual fee. Across most channels, seniors and baby boomers were less likely to subscribe to a loyalty program.

Overwhelmingly, when asked their reason for obtaining a shopper loyalty card or reward membership, 74% of respondents cited free sign-up as the driving factor. Other reasons given for signing up for a shopper loyalty card or rewards membership included discounts for gas (56%), the ability to spend points (55%) and cash rewards (39%). Consumers were less moved by offerings such as access to new products (13%) or a mobile checkout capability (12%).  

Benefits Influence Membership, and Membership Influences Which Stores to Shop
When deciding where to shop, 51% of respondents cited shopper loyalty programs as somewhat influential, followed by 22% who said it was extremely influential. Personalization also is a key to consumer loyalty, with 85% of respondents wanting to select their own benefits and rewards, and more than 70% wanting to personalize the way they earn based on their purchases or preferences.  

Successful Loyalty Programs
From easy, intuitive sign-up to delivering tangible value, loyalty programs have the potential to fulfill their mission of creating and maintaining loyalty. Successful programs remain dynamic, increasing personalization while ensuring the safety and integrity of members’ personal information. Brand partners should be aligned with the program ecosystem, working together to drive more value for members as well as continually elevate the appeal of the program.

About the IRI Consumer Connect Survey
IRI provides new survey results at the end of each calendar quarter covering shoppers’ behaviors and attitudes as they directly relate to their strategies for learning about, purchasing, and utilizing CPG and health care products, as well as information regarding perceptions of economic conditions and their ability to provide for their families. For more information about customizing the research for a particular category or industry, please contact .

About the IRI Partner Ecosystem
IRI fundamentally believes that delivering differentiated growth for clients requires deep, highly integrated partnering with a variety of best-of-breed companies. As such, IRI works closely with a broad range of industry leaders across multiple industries and sectors to create innovative joint solutions, services and access to capabilities to help its clients more effectively collaborate and compete in their various markets and exceed their growth objectives. IRI is committed to its partnership philosophy and continues to actively enhance its open ecosystem of partners through alliances, joint ventures, acquisitions and affiliations. The IRI Partner Ecosystem includes such leading companies as 84.51°, Adobe, The Boston Consulting Group, Comscore, Data Plus Math, Experian, GfK, Gigwalk, Google, Ipsos, Mastercard Advisors, MaxPoint, Omnicom, Oracle, Pinterest, Research Now, Simulmedia, SPINS, Survey Sampling International, Univision, Viant, Yieldbot and others.

About IRI
IRI is a leading provider of big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights that help CPG, OTC health care organizations, retailers, financial services and media companies grow their businesses. A confluence of major external events — a change in consumer buying habits, big data coming into its own, advanced analytics and personalized consumer activation — is leading to a seismic shift in drivers of success in all industries. With the largest repository of purchase, media, social, causal and loyalty data, all integrated on an on-demand, cloud-based technology platform, IRI is empowering the personalization revolution, helping to guide its more than 5,000 clients around the world in their quests to remain relentlessly relevant, capture market share, connect with consumers, collaborate with key constituents and deliver market-leading growth. For more information, visit

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IRI Contact:
Shelley Hughes
Phone: +1 312.731.1782


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