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Post-COVID, 41% of American Shoppers Now Expect a More Personalized In-Store Experience

October 19, 2021

In this article you will learn:

With pandemic restrictions easing and the holidays on the horizon, retailers must focus on building relationships with customers, not one-off sales

SAN FRANCISCO – October 20, 2021 – Formation, the pioneer in machine learning-powered dynamic offer optimization, today announced the results of a new survey that assessed which kinds of offers and loyalty programs motivate American shoppers, and how their expectations have changed as a result of the pandemic.

The survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults, conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of Formation in September 2021, found that American shoppers love a good discount—but only when it’s relevant to their life and shopping habits.

“Most retailers send out a massive number of offers and promotions during the holiday shopping season, to try to engage customers,” said Christian Selchau-Hansen, co-founder and CEO of Formation. “However, this is a critical opportunity for retailers to deepen loyalty, not just get customers to buy one more holiday item. Retailers need to think beyond simple mass discounts and focus instead on creating the kinds of personalized offers & experiences that will break through all the noise and truly engage customers while deepening customer loyalty.”

COVID shifted shopping habits and expectations

As COVID restrictions relax, only a minority of Americans are doing more in-person than online shopping—55% of American women and 69% of American men say they still do most or all of their shopping online.

Not only are they doing more online shopping, a significant amount of shopping is now done while laying down. About half (46%) of Americans do the majority of their mobile shopping while in bed, according to the survey.

But even those who are returning to brick-and-mortar stores say their expectations have changed after more than a year of online shopping: 41% of Americans now expect a more personalized in-store shopping experience.

American shoppers love discounts, but...

Discounts are a big motivator for American shoppers. Indeed, the top reason Americans sign up for loyalty programs is that they enjoy receiving special offers (64%). Additionally:

  • More than two-thirds (68%) are inclined to take action on a deal if there’s a discount involved.
  • 63% say discounts increase spend with a brand.
  • 62% are more likely to complete a purchase based on the size of the offer or reward.
  • 46% say a coupon is what makes them most likely to act on an offer they receive.

And yet they delete a lot of the email offers they receive—most (83%) say they delete 25% to 75%. The top reason for this is that the offers they receive aren’t relevant to their life. This is also the number one reason why Americans unsubscribe to loyalty programs.

Relevance and relationships matter

The survey revealed that Americans are looking for personalized offers and a deeper connection with brands:

  • 61% of Americans say they spend more at brands they have a connection with, and 23% say they have a true affinity for the brands they engage with.
  • 55% are more likely to engage with offers tailored specifically to them.
  • 35% are more likely to act on offers relevant to their life or that include an item they’ve been wanting to buy (35%).
  • 23% say good loyalty programs give them a sense of belonging and that they enjoy being part of an exclusive membership group (27%).

About Formation

Formation helps brands build deeper relationships with every customer, beyond the transaction. Our patented Dynamic Offer Optimization Platform leverages brands’ first-party data to automatically generate each customer’s offer with the best action and reward and then manages the deployment, measurement and fulfillment of each offer across the marketing stack. Brands that use Formation see 3X revenue lift, 2X more engagement and 10X faster time to market with their offers. Formation powers offer optimization for some of the world’s largest brands, such as Starbucks, United Airlines and Giant Eagle. For more information, visit Formation also supports a community of digital and marketing leaders called Loyalty Innovators. For more information, visit