The card, which is currently under the name Sparks, is a conventional plastic offering that gives customers points in return for purchases across food and general merchandise.
It’s not been confirmed yet whether the card will also offer exclusive benefits and personalised offers to member – much like the rival MyWaitrose card and its free customer coffee offer – as originally reported by Reuters.
An M&S spokeswoman told Marketing Week: “We’ve said that being more in-touch with our customers is one of our key priorities this year.
“We are exploring opportunities for greater personalisation and are trialling concepts for a membership scheme.”
Back in June, M&S filed two trademarks for ‘Sparks’ and ‘Sparks: More For You’ with the Intellectual Property Office under the loyalty card category.
At the time M&S refused to give any concrete details, only stating: “At our recent Prelims presentation we said that being more in-touch with our customers was one of our priorities for the year ahead but we would not comment on rumour and speculation about future activity.”
However, the confirmation today (September 30) shows that preparation for Sparks is now at an advanced stage and the loyalty offering is now expected to launch before the end of the year.
An industry source previously claimed the loyalty card would launch as plastic only, with no plans to include a digital variant.
In the past, M&S’ chief executive Marc Bolland has spoken about the need to translate strong food performance into its flagging GM business.
A loyalty card could help to generate more cross-sector purchases and allow M&S to get the same consumer data that its supermarket rivals such as Tesco are accustomed to through their respective loyalty schemes.