What is your “go to” to incentivize your loyalty program, rewards program, or community members to engage and act? Is it free samples? A branded experience? VIP treatment? A discount offer?

Marketers are challenged with striking the right balance between transactional engagement and tapping into deeper motivations to fuel long-term relationships with consumers. Gaining a deeper understanding of who your audience is and what their key motivators are can help you hone in on the right opportunities to build engagement and spark action.  

Have we got good news for you.

Recently, Vesta’s team of Insight Experts and Community Strategists surveyed over 14,000 consumers, and identified five audience segments and the strategies that marketers can harness to spark action and build engagement.  

And more good news coming your way: The study found that the majority of consumers are more motivated to engage with a brand that offers meaningful incentives tied to self-expression, curiosity, and connection than transactional-based incentives like discounts or free products. 

Read on to meet these five personas and learn how you can incentivize them to drive action, advocacy, and lasting loyalty.  

The “Energetic” One

Youthful and spirited, the “energetic” one is the largest cohort of your audience (33%), and comprises 42% of Gen Z and 35% of Millennials. “Energetic” members of your audience are motivated by social incentives and are responsive to opportunities to have their content featured, visual motivators such as badges, and access to exclusive content. 

  • They are drawn to communities that foster fresh and interesting conversational topics and themes.
  • These members may shy away from a community that lacks multiple incentives or emphasizes competition as the main driver of motivation. 
  • For the “energetic” ones, offering a variety of ways to get involved is key. 

 The “Opinionated” One

Another large segment, the “opinionated” one represents 32% of your audience and they are ready to be heard. “Opinionated” community members are attracted to self-expression and are motivated by the possibility of making an impact. 

  • They love to try new products and experiences, and feel validated by providing their opinions to contribute to product innovation and brand decisions. 
  • They are empowered by a community that encourages the expression of honest and authentic feedback in safe and inviting spaces. 
  • As much as these community members want to be heard and valued, they don’t necessarily wish to be granted preferential treatment or having their content featured. For them, it’s all about reinforcing that their opinions and voices matter. 

The “Exclusive Access” One

Ready to be one step ahead of your brand’s next move, the “Exclusive Access” members represent 15% of your audience.

  • This segment responds to unique and interesting experiences that allow them to get “the scoop” around brand activity. 
  • They are excited by opportunities that allow them to get “sneak peeks” that make them feel special and take on new experiences, products, or sweepstakes as an invitation to join the community. 
  • To keep these members engaged, offerings and experiences that allow them to feel like valued consumers take precedence over gamification tactics such as the earning of points or badges. 

The “Proud VIP” One 

Game to compete and energized by status-like incentives, members of the “Proud VIP” persona are especially interested in reputational and social incentives. This curious and motivated audience tends to skew younger, making up 15% of Gen Z and 14% of Millennials.

  • They enjoy earning badges, being selected as an ambassador with perks, and exclusive access to content and events. 
  • Cater to this crowd simply by offering them recognition for their involvement with your brand – feature their content, call out their participation often, and give them new tasks and goals to shoot for. 

The “Tangible Rewards” One 

The final 9% of the community is composed of the “Tangible Rewards” members – those who are highly incentivized by product samples, branded swag, and earning points in exchange for rewards. 

  • This population is more likely to be represented by older consumers.
  • Chance-driven opportunities such as sweepstakes or other “non-guaranteed” prizes will likely not catch the interest of this group. 
  • By promising tangible goods to these members, brands can expect loyalty and engagement in return. 


Though each of these five identified personas have their own unique attributes, by personalizing your experience and messaging to each of them, you can cultivate lasting brand connections and emotional loyalty.

Did we spark your desire to learn more? Uncover more takeaways about each persona and hear from leading marketing experts on how to motivate and engage your online brand community. Click here to download the ebook.

Study Details
This research was conducted via a 22-question online survey issued to the peer influencer community, Smiley360, and was completed by 14,114 U.S. respondents between January 12 – February 23, 2021.

Interested in more? 

Check out our eBook on creating a winning brand community strategy in just four steps.

New call-to-action