Open your wallet – how many cards do you have in there? No, I’m not talking about your debit cards or credit cards. Look at those other cards. Those, my friends, are loyalty cards!
So, what is a loyalty card? A loyalty card is a part of a loyalty program that allows customers to either receive a discount on a current purchase or accumulate points that can be used on a later purchase.
In order to receive these cards, consumers will provide some personal information (usually name, phone number, address, e-mail, etc.) and sometimes will be required to pay a card holders fee. These programs (and cards) are great ways for retailers to get consumers to shop in their store – as they provide either an immediate or future discount. They also are great marketing tools as they collect information about their customers and then use that information to market certain information to them through different channels (phone, mail, e-mail, etc.)
You can safely bet that most of your favorite stores have some sort of loyalty or rewards program. Looking in my wallet, I can spot over five cards that I am signed up for. Some of these cards I use frequently, and others I have used only once. I have worked in retail for almost 10 years and have seen customers come into the store with Ziploc baggies full of loyalty cards (even more so over the past two or three years.) It begins to become a nuisance - having to file all of these cards away in our wallets, especially when we rarely use them. In order to decrease the weight of your wallet, it’s time to decode how we keep the good ones (and get rid of the bad ones!)
Pointers to help you determine whether a loyalty program is good for you –
1. Does it give you an immediate discount?
Some cards will allow you to a 10% or 15% discount year round. Some will offer you $5 or $10 dollars off of your purchase. Some cards will allow you to use this discount in conjunction with other in store promotions or sales. If the card offers an immediate discount, it can definitely be worth your while. Even if you are saving a dollar, it is still a dollar. It adds up over time!
2. Is there a cost to sign up?
Before you say “no” to the store associate pitching the program to you, make sure you understand the benefits thoroughly. Some of the best cards have an initial fee, but pay for themselves quickly. However, if you don’t shop at the store often, the fee may not be worth it. If you are not sure, don’t sign up. Ask the associate for a brochure or pamphlet about the program. You can often find the information about the program on the company website, as well. This will give you the opportunity to research before you shop.
3. How often do you shop in the store?
Ask yourself – how many times out of the year do you visit the store? How often do you use the products? Getting into a loyalty program on your first visit to a store may not be a good idea.
4. Does it provide a discount or benefit over time?
Some programs may allow you to build up points or dollars on your card for every certain amount that you spend. For example, for every $20 dollars you spend, you get five points on your card. Once you get to 25 points, you have $25 dollars to spend. If you shop in the store often, you can probably hit these thresholds fairly quick. However, some programs can set high targets. Again, evaluate how much you are shopping in the store and determine whether building points or dollars can be profitable and worth-while to you.
5. How easy is it to build up points/rewards/dollars?
Do you need to spend a lot to get a point/dollar? Are the buying requirements reasonable for you to achieve?
6. Does it have any other special “perks” to being a member?
Being enrolled in some programs will allow its members to take part in exclusive events or give exclusive offers. For example, a lot of retailers are having “shopping parties” where members can shop the entire day/weekend/week and receive a member’s only discount. This discount is only available for those who have a card or who decide to sign up for a card at the time of purchase. Other retailers give their members coupons to spend in store or in another store.
Using these techniques, I have narrowed my search down to a few favorite loyalty programs.
1. “Love Your Body” – The Body Shop
The Love Your Body program is probably one of my favorite loyalty programs I’ve stumbled across. Not only does it allow you to receive 10% off year round, it also allows you to apply that discount to any other promotions they have in store. For example, they had a promotion where if you bought a bag for $5, anything you could put in the bag was 50% off. After they took the 50% off, you then save an additional 10%.
For every $25 dollars (pre-tax, post discount) you spend in the store, you receive a point. Once you get to four points, you get $15 dollars of free product. Once you get to eight points, you get $25 dollars of free product. You also get a $10 dollar gift of free product during the month of your birthday. But I’m not done yet – if you reach your eight points, the card automatically renews for the next year, free of charge.The card initially costs $10 dollars to sign up, but with those kinds of perks? Absolutely worth the money. The month of your birthday alone pays for the card! They also send me exclusive e-mails and invites to “Love Your Body” events where I can double my discount and receive 20% off all the products in store.
For more information – http://www.thebodyshop.com/
2. “Scene” – Cineplex Entertainment
I’ll start by saying this card is FREE and TOTALLY worth it. You sign up online (I’ll provide the link at the bottom) and they mail you the card. This program runs on a points system – for every adult movie ticket you purchase, you earn 100 Scene points. For every child movie ticket you purchase, you earn 50 Scene points.
It doesn’t stop there, though! Cineplex now offers 75 to 100 Scene points when you purchase a concession combo at participating Cineplex Theatres. Plus, you get 10% of concessions and 250 Scene points just for signing up. Once you get to 1000 points and plus, you can redeem your points for free movies, concession combos, and “Night Out” packages. You can also redeem your points for music downloads, restaurant gift cards and free DVDs or Blu-Rays.
Cineplex has made collecting points even easier by introducing a Scene debit card and a Scene Visa card, where you can accumulate points for all the money you spend! The card does not expire. From my personal use, I have had dozens of free movies since I initially got the card a few years ago. If you go and see a movie with 3 friends, that is 400 points already! With this card, I have definitely seen the benefit. And come on – who doesn’t like free movies?
For more information – http://www.scene.ca/
There are plenty more terrific loyalty programs you can join and receive benefits. Remember, loyalty programs are only beneficial if you make them beneficial. What are some of your favorite loyalty programs?