A few days ago I walked into Costa, and upon ordering my coffee was offered their loyalty card, my immediate thought was, oh on not another loyalty card to join the seven I already have in my wallet, Shell, Booths Supermarket, Decathlon, Nectar, BA Exec Club, and Harrods, ok, only joking about the last one. But this did then get me thinking about the whole loyalty card scenario.

I am a big believer in customer loyalty programmes, what I am not so sure about is if we are getting a bit saturated with how they are delivered, is it time for businesses to find more innovative ways to drive and build customer loyalty rather than just having a card that provides a few discounts. To me it feels a bit like the following happens in building a loyalty programme;

  1. Business thinks, we need to build a loyalty programme, lets have a brainstorm to decided what works best
  2. Business agrees that it is best to get a loyalty card sorted out because that’s what everyone else does
  3. And whilst we are it how about a personalised logon area on our company website that we call My(followed by company name)
  4. Finally let’s send a magazine every 4 months that’s feel personalised but actually is just there to sell our products and services

Surely we now need something new to freshen up how we attract and build customer loyalty, for example could businesses partner more effectively to support their loyalty schemes, there are some good examples of this already with both Tesco, and Nectar, but this is very much on an affinity discount basis. A more radical approach could be for two brands to combine their cards and loyalty programmes into one, look at Shell and Costa for example, an unusual combination maybe, but they are already working together with Costa takeaway machines available in Shell petrol stations.

Ultimately the answer has to come from your customers, and what works best for them, what makes them feel like a loyal customer.  Often the customers answer can be forget the loyalty scheme and just reduce your prices and improve your services, then I’ll be more loyal.

In the meantime I am on the hunt for a larger wallet to find space for my Costa card.

Combinate Marketing specialise in helping businesses develop marketing plans and  loyalty programmes, for an informal chat please contact me at james@combinate.co.uk or call me on 07936 884457

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