A New Wallet: The Real Cost Of Loyalty Schemes

June 6, 2015

I had to buy a new wallet at the weekend. My old one had gone and worn itself out by the sheer weight and bulging of the contents.

Unfortunately this wasn’t down to £50 notes but the number of loyalty cards I had.

From supermarkets through to coffee shops, department stores through to some random places, you name it, I had a card for it.

And the truth is, despite what they say, non of them inspired loyalty.

The “build-a-bear workshop” loyalty card from when I was bullied by my children into spending £65 3 years ago has not encouraged me to go back. Similarly the local garden centre where I have a loyalty card does not encourage me to go more often.  Should the need arise for me to purchase some petunias or marigolds then I shall go there, not because of the loyalty card but because of their proximity to my house.

Another added complication is the fact that each card gives you something different. Toys R Us give you random vouchers, Boots money off future purchases. And don’t get me started on how many points make up £1 to spend – in some places it’s 100, others 2500.

Take out the Nectar and Tesco loyalty card, then the value of loyalty pounds on my remaining 16 cards did not come close to the cost of the new wallet.

So I have gone loyalty free. I’ve binned 16 of the 18 cards. Have I changed my shopping habits? No. Am I financially worse or better off? No. Am I concerned I won’t know which shop to choose in future? No.

Is the longevity of my wallet likely to increase? Yes

As a marketer loyalty to ones brand is the ultimate aim. But when the local dry cleaners starts running the same scheme as waitrose, you know it’s time to re-evaluate.

In professional services, loyalty is gained, not through points on a bit of plastic, but through good quality interactions, an unrivalled service, brand honesty, contact integrity and the right price.  Maybe this is harder to achieve, but get it right and the chances are your wallet will be breaking under the strain of the £50 notes!

Now don’t get me started on the keyfob loyalty cards………