Loyalty Blogs

Instant vs. Delayed Gratification- Which One Works Best for Your Loyalty Program?

  • Posted on February 20, 2024 by Robert
  • Reading time about 6 minutes
loyalty program

Nearly 70% of customers agree that a loyalty program is not enough for retailers to maintain customer loyalty than ever before. That is why retailers must understand that customers today have little or no patience and instantly want everything. Instant gratification has become essential in our fast-paced society, especially for millennials and Gen Zs who have grown up with constantly changing technologies.

Today, customers can do everything instantly – from getting same-day delivery for online orders to quick meal delivery in a matter of minutes. People are constantly demanding for instant results. In this blog, will learn about instant and delayed gratification to figure out which one is best while creating a customer loyalty software solution.

Instant Gratification with Pros & Cons

As more and more customers demand immediate rewards and instant gratification, businesses are focusing on delivering the same to boost customer engagement. However, before jumping into this trend, it is essential to examine its advantages as well as weaknesses.


– Customer Acquisition

The best thing about immediate rewards is that they can attract new members encouraging them to try the program and avail the benefits, which may increase the chance of turning them into loyal advocates who are willing to share positive experiences.

– Brand Advocacy

As customer feels rewarded, they feel obligated to return favors towards the brand making them more likely to return repeatedly and even bring in new customers through word-of-mouth recommendations.

– Gain Attention for Quick Wins

Another good thing about instant reward is that it helps in meeting the needs of customers quickly, making it an effortless gratification for quick wins.

– Boost Immediate Results

Immediate rewards can help to trigger impulse purchases, thereby boosting sales of the business instantly.


– Short-Term Focus

While using an instant rewards approach, your program may overshadow long-term goals and brand loyalty with customers as they are more likely to prioritize quick wins over building a meaningful relationship with brands.

– Failure to Build Emotional Bonds

Relying on instant rewards can make the program feel transactional thereby limiting the brand from developing an emotional bond with members.

– More Risk of Member Burnout

Rewarding program members with instant rewards constantly may lead to a sense of entitlement, which can potentially diminish the perceived value of rewards over time.

Delayed Gratification with Pros & Cons

A delayed gratification approach in a loyalty program means rewarding members over time, fostering a sense of commitment & anticipation. Though this approach aims to build lasting customer loyalty through patience and sustained customer engagement, it comes with some benefits as well as weaknesses.


– Long-Term Customer Loyalty

One good thing about delayed rewards is that they can help nurture a sense of belonging and commitment to the brand. For instance, reaching goals like exclusive experiences or high-value products becomes a shared journey between the customer and the brand strengthening the relationship.

– Increase in Perceived Rewards Value

The longer wait time for the rewards can build anticipation and increase the perceived value of the rewards, making customers feel that the rewards are their earned privilege rather than a brief perk.

– Higher Customer Lifetime Value

Delayed gratification can encourage repeat purchases and sustained customer engagement as customers are more likely to stay connected towards the ultimate prize, translating to higher customer lifetime value for the brand.


– Demotivating & Patience Challenge

As some customers are impatient, delays in rewards can be demotivating and even result in program abandonment.

– Hard to Stay Connected

Convincing your customers to explain the benefits of earning bigger and long-term rewards needs clear messaging and communication which can be difficult as many customers crave immediate rewards.

– Limited Appeal

Many customers prioritize instant gratification, making them less motivated to connect with programs that need sustained effort and patience such as waiting for long-term goals or delayed rewards.

Balance Between Instant & Delayed Gratification

As we learn about the pros and cons of instant and delayed rewards, blending the mix between the two approaches is what you need to consider when your business plans to create a rewards program.

Here are some of the main aspects to consider while building a loyalty program that strikes a balance between the two approaches-

– Segmentation Strategy

Not all customers are the same so their preferences and needs, which is why your business must implement segmentation strategies to learn about different member segments and tailor loyalty rewards accordingly.

– Personalized Rewards

Delivering personalized offers and rewards through the tailored loyalty program will help to cater to unique customer preferences and individual behaviors, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the loyalty program.

– Add Surprise & Delight

Make sure that you add some unexpected and small instant rewards to your loyalty program, which will help keep your customers engaged and motivated throughout the journey.

– Transparent Process

Ensure that you are making the wait transparent for your customers enabling them to keep track of the progress towards long-term goals with the help of easy-to-use progress trackers, gamification elements, and personalized updates.

– Value Focus

Another aspect that must be kept in mind is to make your delayed rewards truly valuable and relevant to your members’ needs, which will help make the wait worthwhile. Keep your customers engaged and motivated so that their actions will lead to a desired long-term outcome with valuable delayed rewards.

– Brand Alignment

To create a successful loyalty program, take time to focus on being complementary to the brand by aligning the loyalty structure with your brand’s identity and customers’ needs.

Final Takeaways

In the end, we can say that it is essential for business owners to invest time in understanding their target audience’s needs, preferences, and motivations. To maximize the effectiveness of your loyalty program, you can offer a strategic mix of instant and delayed rewards. This will not only help in delivering short-term results but also in building longer-lasting relationships with your customer base.

If you are planning to take your loyalty program to the next level, Novus can be the right enterprise loyalty management software that enables businesses across different industry verticals to create a strategy balance between instant and delayed gratification in their loyalty programs. Book a demo with Novus to see how we can add your business value with higher customer loyalty and retention.

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