CVS is giving away free gifts — and probably long receipts
The way loyalty programs should work
From July 5 to July 18, CVS Pharmacy is offering something other than receipts long enough to be Christmas stockings. Their mobile app promo is for a free gift found in the Deals & Rewards section. On the surface, this is a great way to lure customers into the store every single day just to see what the new gift is. Is it the kind of lame gift you get during a grab bag or is it something you really want? While the gifts are subject to product availability and store discretion, a larger question still remains regarding loyalty programs overall: Are they more likely to be used to snoop on consumer habits or to tailor the shopper experience so customers can get what they actually want? Is it worth losing Internet privacy to get products and results that are relevant to your consumer experience? I argue that it is.
Recommended Read: “Wi-Fi and Privacy: The Value Exchange That Retailers Must Master”
Case and point: For the past month and a half, I’ve been price checking with deck power washing, staining and sealing companies for my home’s condo decks. When I logged into YouTube one day, the very first video I saw was a do-it-yourself one on deck washing. Did I mind? Absolutely not. I want to know what I’m paying a company to do and if they’ll do it correctly. Tell me all the deals on paint, polish and brushes, too.
Do I find it creepy that my online search history was able to tell me what I should be looking at on YouTube? A little bit, but I’ve long ago given up on the notion that I’ll have the kind of Internet privacy that people keep asking for. So instead of being fearful of loyalty programs, I’ll purposely make them work to my advantage by looking up what I want to know more about. And if the app doesn’t pry correctly, I’ll get rid of it altogether.
Recommended Read: “Can Your Device Keep a Secret? Playing Devil’s Advocate With Consumer Privacy”
There’s a stronger argument to be made about how giving up a little bit of privacy will get consumers a better gift from loyalty programs like this, too. Going back to the CVS gifts, as an example, let’s say the gift for the day is a free set of photo prints. However, you cannot remember the last time you even purchased a photo album or posted a photograph anywhere but Instagram. That is not going to be a gift you want. But let’s say you’ve been searching for birthday gifts for a friend. If the loyalty program can recognize this, you may be more likely to find good birthday photo gift ideas. Give a little, get a little.
Not all customers are created equal — ly interested
Here’s where loyalty programs of any kind will sometimes go wrong. Using a real-life example again, there’s a beauty supply store that I frequent to purchase relaxer, head wraps, eyebrow razors, deep conditioner and face mask soap. I scan my Five Stars app, look at how many points I need to get a deal and go about my day. No matter how many times I purchase the same five things all year round, this loyalty mobile app will randomly send me promotions for free weave. Meanwhile I’ve never worn weave in my entire life nor have I purchased it from this beauty supply store.
The alerts for discounts or freebies pop up often, and I have absolutely no desire to use them. It’s the same offer almost all the time. So instead of waiting for the app to promote a gift I actually want, in between a bunch of discount alerts for something I have no interest in, I turned off the mobile notifications altogether. I can only go so long with reading promotions about luxurious weave. I don’t care, but so many of their other customers do. I’m aware that I could lose out on a potential good deal. But mobile app developers and stores too often overlook that they’re missing out on otherwise attentive customers — because they marketed the wrong thing to them over and over again.
So is it better to allow loyalty apps and retail store apps the opportunity to narrow down what you really want? I would argue it is. If you would not, get ready to see a bunch of “free” gifts and discounts that are more like white elephant gifts than something you really want.
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