Are you lured in by coffee shop loyalty schemes? Do they actually affect where you go for your local coffee?
The other morning I was handed a free coffee in my local Pret – a pleasant if mildly embarrassing moment, but apparently something they do fairly often.
Are such random acts of kindness really the best way to inspire customer loyalty – or does a more organised loyalty system make you more inclined to return for your caffeine fix?
Most coffee chains now run such a loyalty scheme (Pret doesn’t) but our research has found that some schemes aren’t as impressive as all that.
At Costa, you get the equivalent of 5p for every £1 you spend. So, say you’re a latte fan (the nation’s favourite coffee apparently), well £51 worth of medium lattes consumed in store will earn you enough points to get yourself a free one (£2.55). At Cafe Nero it’s simpler. Buy nine drinks and get your tenth one free. Nice and easy.
I used to be a big fan of coffee shop and other high street loyalty schemes. Well it’s something for nothing, isn’t it?
The desk drawer in our back bedroom is crammed full of cards for different shop schemes from Holland and Barrett (from that time I thought I was get really healthy by consuming whey protein and fish oil) to Waterstones cards and probably, if you looked hard enough, some sort of Woolworths scheme.
Loyalty schemes have quite a history. Many of us will remember our mums sticking Green Shield Stamps in a book. I know my mum loved the physical act of licking them and collected them in albums. And I remember the thrill of seeing the ‘free’ gifts that you got in return for them.
So I’ve probably inherited something of that joy at the idea of getting something for nothing. And in among my collection of loyalty cards is a Costa card that these days gathers more dust than points and several crumpled Cafe Nero cards in various stages of stamp completion.
For quite a while, I was happy to hand over my Costa card to get scanned and my Cafe Nero card to get stamped. And then I stopped bothering.
With Costa, the reward seemed so far away it hardly seemed worth bothering to carry the card and by the time I got to hand over the Cafe Nero card it was crumpled virtually into pieces. In fact, I wonder whether such loyalty schemes really have much effect on where we go for our brew.
Coffee shop preferences
For me, it’s more about convenience or the feel of the shop. I like our local Costa because the local branch is a nice, quiet place to read the papers on a Sunday morning (well it is until my sister arrives with her kids). The prospect of a free Americano some 15 drinks down the line is less of a spur than a peaceful corner.
So how about you, do loyalty cards and schemes affect where you drink your coffee?