Cards not the loyalty panacea

I was interested to read Jane Luker’s RetailScan on supermarkets and loyalty “Supermarkets still ahead in battle to keep customers loyal” (MW September 13).

It appears that, with 36 per cent of us now holding supermarket loyalty cards, they have become little more than a marketing overhead with minimal differentiation, thereby breaking all the rules of loyalty schemes.

Indeed, in spite of the much lauded success of such cards, our own research, also commissioned from Taylor Nelson AGB, established that 81 per cent of Tesco shoppers are encouraged to visit Co-op stores after receiving a copy of Your Choice, the customer magazine of the Co-op, which we publish.

Your Choice demonstrates that the supposed loyal customer is, in reality, promiscuous in their choice of store and brand, and is responsive to simple promotional vehicles such as coupons and reader offers in the magazine.

As every supermarket joins in the me-too rush to offer cards, it may be worth examining their effectiveness in relation to other options.

If there is an alternative which has the additional benefit of being able to support the brand and build a relationship with the consumer should this not be considered? Sainsbury’s in particular has been praised for its customer magazine but perhaps its role in the loyalty debate is being under-played.

Craig Waller

Managing director

Premier Magazines

London SW1

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