Have you ever had such a bad shopping experience that you took to all available media platforms to express your outrage with a specific store or service provider? And have you then found yourself shopping at the very same store two weeks later only because you have a loyalty card that gives you some sort of ‘benefits’ for your shopping…well, you aren’t alone!
Loyalty and reward programmes have experienced huge growth in South Africa. Retailers, banks, large service providers (pretty much every business) have increasingly been utilizing some form of loyalty scheme as they scramble to keep existing customers and capture the hearts of new potential customers. As our South African economy took a downward slump, the ‘pennywise’ began to look for ways to get the most value for their money spent. Loyalty and reward programmes became the knight in shining armour for both the customer and supplier.
If you had to open your purse or wallet at this very moment, how many plastic buddies would you have? Often enough, we find ourselves feeling obligated to shop at a particular store with the expectation that we are receiving benefits and savings over and above other ‘disloyal’ shoppers. Are we really saving or are we too loyal to loyalty cards? Ultimately, no matter how ‘wow’ the loyalty or reward programme may be, as the customer, you should truly want to buy that brand anyway before the loyalty or rewards tempt you into making your purchase decision.
There are plenty of loyalty and reward programmes out there and separating the good from the great boils down to the comparison of benefits, costs (if any), the scope of the offering, the simplicity of the programme and the service provided. There are three main aspects to look for in a loyalty or reward programme. It must be transparent; it must be simple and it must have tangible benefits. Before you sign up for any loyalty or reward programme, make sure you understand how it works and know your rights, even if it has a warm fuzzy name like WeLoveToRewardYou.
Every programme is governed by the Consumer Protection Act. This Act requires that all the terms and conditions must be explained in an understandable document that consumers can freely access. The responsibility is then yours to ensure that you read it and fully understand it. Every programme needs to have an opt-out clause. You should be wary for programmes that require you to spend a minimum amount before you can start receiving any benefits. If this minimum amount is too high then the process might not be worth your time and effort. It is also crucial to watch out for hidden costs.
We like reward programmes that are simple to understand and lets us know exactly how much rewards we have in cash value. When you evaluate a rewards programme, be sure to look into the actual earning rate (how many rands you need to spend to earn points and the value of each point) and the number of opportunities available for you to earn points. It is important that the reward programmes you choose be transparent and allows you enough time to spend your rewards. Rewards that expire before you can blink aren’t really going to benefit you in any way.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you sign up for a loyalty/ reward programme:
Firstly, is the loyalty programme going to cost you any sign up fees? Secondly, how much is the rewards worth (in rand value)? Thirdly, do your points expire after a certain period of time? How easy is it to use your rewards? Do you understand how the points are calculated? Are there any restrictions when spending your points? Lastly, do you have to spend a minimum amount before you start earning points?