Loyalty… is there such a thing?

| | Communication
Pamela Bath

The Rise of the Promiscuous Shopper

An exploration of loyalty schemes and if they are actually changing the way we shop or will we always be promiscuous shoppers?

House of Cards

I carried out a simple task today, I opened my purse and pulled out every loyalty card I owned … needless to say my purse felt very light after I completed this little exercise.

I unravelled no less than 11 cards and 3 fobs. From beauty to department stores, supermarkets, restaurants and hotels … I have them all.

Now, they may be a reflection of my personal preferences BUT do these cards in my purse, or attached to my car keys, really make me more likely to shop with these brands more often or over their competitor? I’m not quite sure and here’s why.

Rise of the Promiscuous Shopper

I feel we are living in the era of the promiscuous shopper – where the ‘savvy’ consumer has control over the retailer and how they want to shop.

I must highlight the operative word here is ‘savvy’. If you are a savvy consumer, then you are likely to shop around, be channel neutral (shop on-line or offline or both) and only part with your hard earned cash when you feel you are getting the best deal for your latest prized possession.

Obviously cognitive urges can sway your thoughts. Your needs, wants and desires can be more powerful at certain times in the year; Christmas, birthdays, holidays – panic buy mode can get us all, but on the whole you are a typical ‘shopper – a -rounder’ and relish in the pleasure of telling your friends where you got your fab new shoes/tablet/sofa from and the bargain it was … or expense. Therefore I pose the question, can this promiscuous shopper ever become an advocate of loyalty when the basis of their buying behaviour is to be promiscuous?

Powers of Persuasion

On the flip side – these shiny little visuals of personal pride can act as a very powerful tool of persuasion … if used wisely by the founder. By this I mean the power really is in the hands of the retailer, hotelier, and restaurateur etc. when it comes to enticing you back into their business to spend your cash.

The fact they have managed to make room in your purse signifies the individual is happy to have you in their lives, OR they just love the design of the card; there’s the fickle shopper in me coming out. But on a serious note, they have made it there for a reason – now it’s what to do with all this data and power.

Sit Up and Listen

I urge all businesses that have a loyalty scheme to sit up and pay attention to this; you’ve invested in a loyalty programme, I’ve bought into your promise of extra privileges for being a ‘loyal’ customer … DO NOT IGNORE ME.

How often have you joined a loyalty programme and you find yourself wondering; ‘What happens to the points I collect?’, ‘I’ve not received and email from them?’, ‘Where are my promised vouchers?’ ‘Do they even know I exist?’.

The Human Touch

At this point of engagement is where I feel the founders/brands/businesses go wrong. The majority of the time simple mistakes are made due to the negligence of the systems the business use to run their schemes.

The customer’s data isn’t collected correctly at point of sign-up. Email addresses are incorrect or post codes wrong; the manual in-put of human to database can throw out a multitude of errors from spellings mistakes to incorrect addresses. These really simple things that can make or break an effective loyalty programme, there is no point in having a database of incorrect information. However these simple errors can be overcome if the business invests in the correct software to run their loyalty programme

Keep It Personal

Another reason for the failure of an effective loyalty programme is down to the actual marketing communications them self. The majority either bombard you or the comms is non-existent.

I’ve wilfully given you my personal details, and you can now tract my buying behaviours and establish my likes and dislikes through analysing my data – why of why would you not send me communications tailored to my needs? Again this can be down to the limitations of the systems these businesses are using OR the people that are running them.

My professional hat hopes for personalised communications via my preferred channel, followed by tailored offers and exclusive invites … oh and a gentle reminder if my favourite product is on offer or back in stock! High maintenance customer … me … never!

And we wonder why we’re living in the era of the promiscuous shopper.

It’s an open debate and one that should be discussed in great depth by the CMO’s of businesses running or about to invest a large amount of their budget in a Loyalty programme. Do they know what they are letting themselves in for, can they fulfil the needs of the programme and does it really reward loyalty or just encourage more discounted shopping mentality in today’s savvy consumer.

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