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Vouchers at full blast – an alternative approach to loyalty?

18th Jan 2011
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I’ve recently become aware of how much the market has been flooded with vouchers. In the post I receive vouchers from Boots and Nectar vouchers, but they don’t really help me buy what I need at a better price and they often go unused. Now, I also receive some voucher codes by SMS from brands which I have never shopped with. These types of offers are even less relevant to me. But even more surprising are the voucher blasts that come my way on the web. You seem to be able to find e-vouchers everywhere and for any brand you want telling you to just print and use: Ask, Argos, Asda, B&Q, Sainsbury’s, Pizza Express… I could carry on.

The vast majority of these are not relevant to me as a consumer and rarely do I find vouchers that allow me to buy the specific product I need at a better price. If they are not relevant and timely, they will not secure my business when I next head out to the shops.

As a marketer I find them hugely frustrating. So many brands are now using them that customers expect to find vouchers everywhere meaning that the no-doubt small percentage that do redeem them are impossible to measure. Is this the right approach to offering customers a better deal; if you cannot measure who takes the offer, if it changes behaviour, or if it drives more sales?

Vouchers are rewards for customers – they need to act as a ‘thank you’ message to customers that are of high-value to your brand. Alternatively, vouchers are an incentive device to encourage customers to visit again. But for them to really work and cement feelings of loyalty towards your business, products or services they need to play by the same rules laid out in any good loyalty programme: they should be instant rewards that customers can equate with the sale that actually triggered the offer, they need to be linked to the customer’s level of spend so that the marketer can measure and understand behavioural trends, and they need to be personal and surprise the customer.

Vouchers then, should not be seen as an alternative to loyalty but if done in the right way, they can work perfectly alongside your customer management programmes to build long-term loyalty. That way, vouchers may yet have a chance of redeeming themselves.


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