Privacy issues and the scourge of the loyalty scheme

Firstly, as I write this blog the irony has not escaped me a marketing professional complaining about loyalty schemes and privacy issues published on all my social media channels but that’s my choice. You’d be right to call me a hypocrite but please bear with me. There are two types of loyalty scheme the less sophisticated stamp collection where generally you don’t have to provide any personal details and the more complex credit card style ones where you ‘sign up’. I think Boots where the first to come up with a points scheme and there’s no escaping the fact it’s a good idea. Capturing data about your customers purchasing habits has limitless potential. I’m pretty sure the online ‘supermarkets’ I use send me specific deals based on my purchasing habits.

I don’t mind too much the basic loyalty schemes where you get a stamp each time you visit and get something free after a nominal number of stamps. I’m sensible enough to see the benefit of this. I also have no issue with the more complex ones in theory. It’s the way its collected that I probably have the biggest issue with I’ll explain more shortly. Most major and minor retailers have their own loyalty scheme and smaller businesses are also following suit. The fact is that everyone wants to get hold of your data. Your personal data is like gold dust to a retailer, restaurant, B2C or even B2B enterprise for that matter. Since setting up my business and utilising free listing I get several sales calls everyday selling me business related goods. Its got so bad that I tend not to answer the landline as I’m certain it’s a sales call – could I be missing out on a vital lead?

 I now have in my purse cards with John Lewis, M&S, Waitrose, Paperchase, Boots, Superdrug the list is endless. This is just the big hitters everyone wants to get a hold of your data.

Here’s why I find it so annoying;

1.       My purse is now so full of loyalty cards that I struggle to find my debit card quite an issue when you’re in a rush

2.       I have an unusual first name and my surname is not spelt the conventional way so lots of spelling out and repeating required – (not ideal when you’re in a rush)

3.       This issue is probably only specific to me as my husband always reminds me to use my “indoor voice” but I’ll admit I’m quite loud probably why I’d found myself drawn to the world of radio people often say I have a voice for radio. But when you need to verbally give out your name, email address and postal address in a busy store to sign up to their loyalty scheme and there’s a queue of people behind you I often decline for fear of others overhearing. It’s almost as bad as when you pay for something over the phone and the person you’re speaking to repeats back your card number.

Each loyalty scheme has its own merits but it’s just so overwhelming as a consumer. I never got around to activating my John Lewis card and I have spent a small fortune in there since becoming a mother. I suppose what I’m saying is that It comes back to the same problem time. I’ve singled out email here but text message campaigns can be equally annoying my local pizza takeaway which I ordered from once would text me every single Friday without fail with a special offer (probably the same one I got bored of reading it) there was no opt out option so after several months I had to call them to ask them to take me off their list. The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) has a code of conduct that must be adhered to for members but individuals don’t necessarily have access to this information.  When I worked at Space and Time Media we had to follow their guidance to the letter when handling data I learnt a lot during that time.

Of course, I understand the merits of all the above activity but if you get it wrong you risk alienating your customers so be wise about how you use your gold dust. So, there it is my feelings about loyalty schemes do you agree? I’m not saying don’t use them just be mindful of the fact that with information comes great power.

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