How many loyalty cards do you have? And are you loyal?

(04 /09 /2014)

These days, almost every café or coffee shop you walk into offers you a loyalty card – you buy five coffees, you receive the sixth for free.  And if you’re anything like me, your wallet will contain multiple cards for multiple stores which you then rummage through when you walk into whichever coffee shop you’re closest to.  Luckily for me, I live next door to a great coffee shop so I am regularly achieving that “free coffee” – I should probably have shares in the place by now!  But if it wasn’t so convenient, would I go out of my way and be reaping the rewards?  There are certainly cards in my wallet that have been there for months and I am yet to get that free cup.

Do consumers really go out of their way to exhibit brand loyalty when it comes to convenience products like take-away coffee?  How can you make sure that customers walk that extra block or drive that extra five minutes to buy your product?  Offering a great product is a good start and obviously a loyalty card program will help generate repeat business.  But offer an experience that the consumer won’t forget  – a barista that makes an awesome cup of coffee but that also knows his/her customers by name and normal order for example – and you can be sure that those customers will go the extra mile to spend money at your store.  A great location, ambience, free wifi are all worth considering to ensure repeat business.

It also needs to be easy for the consumer – easy access by out front parking or drive-through coffee, a “text your order” service, keeping the loyalty card at the store so that it doesn’t get lost in the customer’s wallet or using a phone number as a “loyalty card”, are all ways of reducing the hurdles and will help encourage customers to return.  There are even frequent coffee apps now, where your loyalty card is ‘virtual’.

Offering other rewards such as insulated re-usable coffee cups, social media competitions or ‘check ins’ or the chance to win free coffee for a week are all useful incentives; combine these with a unique experience and you will be guaranteed that your customers will go out of their way to purchase from you and refer new customers.

Engaging your customers is the key to repeat business and a loyalty program in whatever form you choose, combined with a point of difference, will ensure business success, but as always do your homework!  Cost vs profit or effort vs profit,  how many free coffees/lunches/drinks/2for1’s/kids eat free can you afford to give away?

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