I picked up a couple of store loyalty cards recently – I could pretend it was solely out of professional interest but the truth is the salespeople did their job getting me to take one – and laying them out side-by-side when I got home, I couldn’t help noticing interesting differences.
The stickers on the cards here are the interesting thing.
When you get these cards at the shop, rather sensibly you’re not forced to go through a lengthy registration process at the till. (Superdrug asked me for my email address but that was it, and I was asked straight away if I wanted marketing sent to that address.) That’s sensible from an operational point of view for the shop when it’s busy and a much better experience for me as a customer at the business end of my shopping journey. So there has to be a reason for me to register these cards. In the case of Superdrug, there has to be even more of a reason for me to want to register and keep carrying the card, because I’ve already benefited from the discount the card provided, which at the time was much more valuable than the points and was the thing that persuaded me to get the card.
The House of Fraser sticker has the stark wording, in SHOUTY ALL CAPS: REGISTER YOUR CARD NOW … NO REGISTRATION = NO REWARDS, while the Superdrug sticker says, with a thrilling lack of any capital letters, not even at the start of the sentence: register your card today … to spend your points.
House of Fraser’s gone for the negative ‘no – no’ construction while Superdrug’s gone for the more incentive-led approach. Both have impressed a sense of ‘do it now’, with House of Fraser following, what’s now the standard ‘[action] now’ copy and Superdrug using ‘[action] today’. Superdrug’s wording feels somewhat less bossy and more in tune with the life of a customer. I’ve just got this card while out shopping, so to ask me to register today seems reasonable; to ask me to do it right away less so.
The cards come attached to, err, cards with more information about the loyalty scheme.
House of Fraser’s tone on this was in stark contrast to the sticker on the card. There’s a bright pink panel telling me, again in SHOUTY ALL CAPS: REGISTER TODAY AND COLLECT 250 BONUS POINTS. HALFWAY TO A £5 REWARD. I instantly feel much more inclined to register now because there’s a very clear benefit, not just in points but in monetary value.
Superdrug’s bumpf isn’t so compelling to me. There’s lots of copy and I nearly missed the one thing that’s compelling to me, personally – the bit that says I can download the Superdrug app to get the card on my phone. If there’s one thing that stops me from signing up to loyalty schemes, it’s the hassle of having to carry a physical card around. And you know the irony of this? I already have a Superdrug loyalty card; I picked up another one because I needed it to claim a discount running on the day. Had I known about the app, I’d have used that and Superdrug would have saved however much it costs them to produce these cards. (Sidenote: I’ve started to show my John Lewis loyalty card as a matter of habit now, since they allowed me to add it to my iPhone Wallet so that I don’t even have to open a separate John Lewis app.)
It’s a simple approach from House of Fraser on their receipt, thanking me for using my loyalty card. Feels like there might be a missed opportunity there – if they had recognised it was the first time I’d used the card, they might have been able to reinforce their message to get me to register the card. As it is, this feels like an afterthought, especially when you compare it to Superdrug’s receipt.
Superdrug’s receipt is long (and, curiously, the Superdrug logo doesn’t appear until a fair way down the receipt) but it’s pretty clear there’s a benefit to be had. It’s not a great benefit, to be honest – a typical spend-more-to-get-more-points offer but at least there’s a clear reason for me to remember to use my card. It’s a pain I need to keep the receipt, or at least this part of the receipt, but I can see what they’re doing to try to help nudge me along to a points-collecting habit.
The in-store experience
If I were scoring points at this point, I’d say this was pretty evenly matched – being able to keep my Superdrug loyalty card on their app would make me more likely to use it but the immediate reward for registering with House of Fraser – £2.50, in effect – really makes me want to register.
But this wasn’t just a case of me picking up a card while at the till – an assistant offered the card to me.
The House of Fraser experience was pretty straightforward: ‘Would you like a reward card to collect points? You can register online and save money when you have enough points.’
Superdrug’s assistant, however, did the job the bumpf failed to do. She was well drilled in explaining the benefits – without sounding robotic about it, I should add – and sold me the card and, more importantly, gave me reasons to return to Superdrug beyond simply collecting points to save money. To be honest, I didn’t need to read any marketing because the assistant did it all.
I don’t want to encourage shops to do the hard sell on their loyalty cards every time I shop but the Superdrug assistant judged the situation well and it felt like a normal conversation, not a sale; more like someone giving a word-of-mouth recommendation, and this is where Superdrug edges ahead of House of Fraser for me: the customer service.
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