The Absolute Truth About Marketing
Saturday, December 17, 2005
  An anti-loyalty scheme
Yesterday I did nearly all my Christmas shopping in Dymocks, The Booksellers. I am a member of their Booklovers loyalty program. I hand over my card and with each purchase I get discount vouchers, entries into prize draws and occasionally free books.
Let's get the minor issues out of the way first. The prize draws are irrelevant to me - the prizes are usually holidays in places I don't want to go to, like Iraq or Uzbeckistan (or similar). The free books are usually books I wouldn't read and can't even think of someone who'd like them. (Remaindered pulp fiction, mainly.)
What does interest me is the discount vouchers. I picked up about $25 in vouchers on around $350 spent. Now the vouchers have proven to be a useless benefit for me because of the redemption conditions Dymocks attaches to them. I rarely have one in my pocket when I get the urge to walk into the shop. So they are useless. And they won't let you use them the same day you earn them. So I couldn't buy an additional book with them yesterday.
Here's how Dymock's have devised an anti-loyalty program for me. First they tell me how important I am. They give me a card and a bunch of discount vouchers after each purchase. No I consider these vouchers are currency. It's just like they've given me money. But they refuse to allow me to spend it. I am not sufficently anal retentive to have my wallet neatly stuffed with discount vouchers. (Coles and Woolworths 4ยข a litre off fuel is a similar deal.)
So they promise me good things and merely set me up for a deep-seated negative "moment of truth" the next time I visit and I feel robbed because I haven't got the currency that was rightfully mine. Dymocks seeks to achieve its goal - repeat visits - by restricting the usage of the vouchers. But while pursuing a behavioural goal, it actively works against the more fundamental emotional goals of loyalty marketing - satisfaction and meeting expectations. Instaed of feeling special, I feel manipulated and dudded.
No it's not the same as if I forgot to bring cash. Cash is useful in all sorts of circumstances and it's relatively easy to carry. Special purpose vouchers are different.
Give me a stored value card - I can carry cards. But I can't always have my pockets stuffed with dicount vouchers.
So if you have a loyalty program, can you be sure it's not pissing people off. And I'm not just people. I buy a lot of books.
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