Results of the 2020 LoyalT Study: The Top 10 Best Programs and the Impact of COVID-19

October 28, 2020

R3 Marketing and Leger are unveiling the results of the 4th edition of LoyalT: the most comprehensive annual study on loyalty program trends and performance in Canada.

Returning after two years, the LoyalT ranking presents the top 10 loyalty programs in Canada.

The ranking of these 10 companies is not surprising, as they are businesses with high visitation frequency. However, Irving is making a strong showing. Following improvements to its loyalty program in Quebec and Ontario, Irving Rewards is at the top of the list, surpassing Starbucks, which topped the list in 2017 and 2018. However, the Starbucks Rewards program remains among the leaders in the ranking, as do the SAQ Inspire, metro&moi, and PC Optimum programs.


COVID-19 has significantly affected the performance of loyalty programs, their use, and member behaviour. Overall, loyalty programs have seen their LoyalT score* decline. On average, there was a decline of 7.2 points or 13%.

Unsurprisingly, the programs that performed best this year were those in the so-called essential sectors: supermarket, pharmacy, gas, and food/specialty (e.g. SAQ). Their general LoyalT score and specific score on the Behavioural Index were less affected compared to other sectors. Fashion and Beauty programs, for example, saw a 14.6-point decrease in the Behavioural Index score compared to 2018.

“While everyone was closed, essential businesses remained open and responsive to consumer needs. It is difficult to bring a fashion and beauty program to life when shopping centres are closed,” explains Hans Laroche, partner at R3 Marketing.

The LoyalT study also shows that for certain sectors such as food, pharmacy or hardware, the frequency of visits generally decreased (between 30% and 40%), but the average shopping cart increased. Faced with the difficulties related to the pandemic (temporary closures, inventory shortages, distancing, line-ups, etc.), many retailers had to adjust to not encouraging in-store visits. This adaptation did not escape the attention of program members: 40% say they noticed that promotional offers or point bonus offers were less generous and fewer in number.


  • 53% of members said they are favouring local businesses or retailers during the pandemic.
  • 67% of members prefer to receive communications once a week or more often.
  • Personalized offers based on purchase history are becoming increasingly important: 55% of members say they prefer these types of offers.
  • The use of smartphones to consult program elements is on the rise. On average, 42% of members mainly use their cell phones. This statistic rises to 80% for one program.
  • 26% of members aged 18 to 34 participate in program promotions or gamification most of the time or always.
  • The Amazon Prime program is still growing. In 2018, 16% of its Canadian members resided in Quebec; today, this proportion has reached 27%.
  • Two strategies improve a loyalty program’s performance: the addition of a premium component and the use of a co-branded credit card (more popular in English Canada).

*The LoyalT score is calculated using 3 key indices: recommendation (6%), commitment (37%), and behaviour (57%).


R3 Marketing is a consulting firm specializing in relationship marketing and loyalty created by Paul Lafortune and Hans Laroche, who have over 55 years of experience in the field. R3 Marketing specializes in developing, redesigning, and analyzing the profitability of loyalty programs. Over the last few years, R3 Marketing has worked with many Canadian companies including the SAQ, Metro, Nespresso, McKesson, Uniprix, Reitmans, Société des Casinos, BMR, and the Royal Canadian Mint. For more information:


Leger is the largest Canadian-owned market research and analytics company, with more than 600 employees in eight Canadian and US offices. Leger has been working with prestigious clients since 1986. For more information:


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