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M&S ups loyalty stakes

News, 16 October 2015

LONDON: Marks & Spencer, the retailer, is to launch a new members' club that moves the traditional loyalty scheme onto a new level, rewarding people not just for shopping but also for writing reviews and recycling clothing.

Members will be awarded points, or Sparks, for these activities which can be used in various ways, extending beyond traditional discounts to priority access to sale products and new season previews as well as experiences like meeting the top models who feature in the retailer's advertising.

And the discounts will be personalised offers across all departments – food, fashion, home and beauty, Reuters reported.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, M&S marketing director, described Sparks as "future proof, groundbreaking and transformative" and explained that it could not have been done before.

That's because it is only now that the retailer has the technology in place to connect customer data across various platforms – in-store, on the web and in the app.

"What we are doing is bridging the three universes so we have a view of the consumer across platforms," he said.

The new club is not just about M&S manipulating customer data, however. "It's a two-way relationship," Bousquet-Chavanne said. "Members tell us what they enjoy, select their own tailored offers and are rewarded for sharing their views."


They will also be credited for "shwopping" – where they donate an old item of clothing every time they buy a new one. 

Earlier this year upmarket grocer Waitrose took a similar tack when it introduced a pick-your-own-offers promotion where loyalty program members could choose ten items from a 1,000-strong list on which they get a 20% discount, even if these happen to be part of another offer.

Bousquet-Chavanne told Marketing that the traditional view of loyalty based around rewarding monetary transactions was obsolete.

There is now a "mutual depth of conversation", he said, that was enabling a "powerful new retailer/customer relationship" and which could lead the business in new directions.

"I could see us going towards co-creation of products ... and [letting] the design and the shape of the club evolve based on what primary members want."

Data sourced from Reuters, Marketing; additional content by Warc staff