Who Needs Points?

Paula Thomas, Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes


One of the biggest challenges for marketing managers tasked with driving footfall to stores is developing USP’s – unique selling points – that truly interest customers. This is particularly true in the convenience sector where proximity and value are often the only factors considered by customers anxious to refuel their cars and refresh themselves, but limited by time. A loyalty programme without clear benefits can easily be seen as an annoying distraction and delay at the till if staff (and your marketing communications) don’t clearly articulate reasons for joining and swiping.

While the ‘earn and burn’ points approach is well understood, our experience shows that particularly in the convenience sector with low average spend, customers are often not convinced that they will earn enough rewards to make membership worthwhile.

As loyalty marketers, our job is to develop compelling reasons for customers to join and scan to ensure the ‘effort to reward’ ratio stacks up for customers, with so many priorities competing for their attention.

We’ve previously discussed gamification and instant gratification as two highly effective solutions – beyond pure points – that we know drive engagement. A third highly effective strategy is developing marketing partnerships – a scalable and highly effective strategy between high profile and non-competing brands working together for mutual benefit. Customers of course enjoy exclusive rewards, offers and experiences as a result.

A telco example is Telefonica O2’s Priority Moments FREE coffee giveaway with Caffe Nero in the UK. As a truly generous campaign focused on ‘surprise and delight’, campaigns of this nature are reliant on a digital platform in order to limit reward coupons to one per customer and also ensure rewards codes can’t be used more than once – essential from a budgeting and fraud-prevention perspective.



Another UK example is Starbucks partnership with Benefit Cosmetics, which consisted of free coffees and mini makeovers in each other’s stores. With both brands targeting a similar demographic profile, it made sense for them to leverage their combined brand power to drive footfall and acquire new customers without the need for expensive media channels to communicate the partnership.

With proven results by big brands such as telcos and high street fashion retailers, I believe there is a real opportunity to develop a similarly truly effective partnership strategy in the convenience sector.



Key Success Factors:

  • Partnerships with existing relationships: All FMCG manufacturers have ongoing marketing needs and covet the direct connection with customers that convenience retailers with a digital programme can offer. Partnership campaigns can include free rewards (when no purchase is required) such as when new products are launched to drive trial (i.e. sampling) as well as digital delivery of discount coupons to incentivise purchase without the costs of direct mail.
  • Partnerships with complementary high street retailers: Cinema 2-4-1 offers have been hugely popular for many years (mainly in the banking sector) however more innovative partnership options in recent years include fashion brands, food delivery services such as Deliveroo, non-competing restaurants and even global travel or airline offers.

Marketing Managers recognise the value of direct access to a permission database and are open to giving exclusive and compelling offers in return for prominent brand positioning. This works particularly well for them as convenience retailers with a digital loyalty programme can promote them to their members as a closed user group with secure distribution of their digital codes. For the retailer, offer availability can be conditional on shopping or refilling fuel at least once a month, building habits and frequency – for mutual benefit.

One final benefit of a partnership strategy is the absence of a long-term points liability on the balance sheet. When reviewing loyalty programme ideas, many CFO’s are concerned about the need to accrue revenue from year to year to cover rewards. A ‘point-less’ programme approach has proven appeal and ability to scale.

So whether you’re adopting a full loyalty strategy, or want to replicate the Starbucks or O2 UK partnership concept, or if you simply want a fast-track campaign solution that avoids the need for data capture and consent, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you with any of your loyalty or digital programme needs.


About Us:

Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialized for the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.

How we do it:

We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.

Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.

One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.

Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:


About Me:

Paula Thomas

Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Independent Loyalty Consultant.

With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing consulting, managing consumer loyalty propositions, strategy and operations. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer, as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards. 



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