Between now and the end of March, Vauxhall will send letters out to more than 50,000 car owners highlighting the scheme. It is also promoting the service to new customers both in store and via email and through posts on Facebook.
The Vauxhall Rewards programme, which was set up and is run by Eclipse Marketing, had a soft launch last year. It offers customers the chance to take out either a pre-paid debit card or a credit card that they can use to make purchases and earn points to spend with Vauxhall, either on a new car, car accessories or maintenance costs such as services, MOT and repairs.
The debit card can be used to earn points at around 70 shops and restaurants, including Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, Asda and Wagamamas, with users earning 3 per cent on everything they spend in supermarkets and 5 per cent everywhere else. The credit card can be used anywhere and users earn 3 per cent, with 1 point equal to £1 to spend at Vauxhall.
Moving away from car maintenance “distress costs”
Speaking to Marketing Week, Vauxhall’s strategic marketing programmes manager Sophie Thomas said the scheme is aimed at helping its customers cut down on motoring costs by maximising the rewards they get from their normal spending.
“We want to offer value to our customers and help them save money. It can seem a chore to spend money on servicing and an MOT, people don’t want to spend money on that. This way people can buy a holiday or do their food shopping and earn points to redeem. Car running costs are not a distress purchase then,” she adds.
Vauxhall has had no loyalty scheme since 2009, when its GM Card was cancelled after partner HSBC pulled out during the banking crisis. Thomas claimed there is no loyalty scheme like this is in the UK car market, meaning that much of its communication needs to focus on education.
The first priority is to get previous GM cardholders to move over to the new scheme, with Vauxhall using that database to tailor its marketing depending on whether customers are in the market for a new car or maintenance services. Thomas admitted that with the scheme still in its early stages there is a lot of “trial and error” involved in working out who to target and when is best to reach them.
“Getting the message out to the right people is a bit of trial and error. There is no card like this in the marketplace and so we have to work out who is likely to take up this card,” she said.
Turning loyalty into new car sales
Engaging with customers is important as competition in the UK car market increases. Sales were up 10.8 per cent last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, making the UK one of the only European market to see sustained growth last year,
However, car marques including Hyundai have warned that if anything this makes the competition tougher as brands seek to take advantage of the opportunity. Vauxhall says its sales rose 12 per cent, ahead of the wider market and causing its market share to increase to 11.1 per cent.
Thomas said Vauxhall hopes that the loyalty programme will lead to a further uplift in both new car sales and revenues. It will be able to see where its customers are in the car cycle, enabling them to tailor their marketing messages to remind customers about services such as warranty renewals and help retail partners retain customers.
She added that there is also an opportunity to shorten replacement cycles as customers can save up points meaning they might be able to buy a new car sooner or upgrade the specifications of a new car.
Other car manufacturers do run their own incentive programmes. Ford, for example, is part of Nectar, meaning that customers can collect points through the loyalty scheme on servicing, MOTs, repairs, tyres and accessories although they cannot redeem them.