I recently had a discussion from someone who works in the industry, about why books from a large chain was more expensive than the same titles at an indie store. You’d think bigger shopping power, larger marketing budget, etc. would mean the opposite.
But the bookstore chain offers a
free loyalty programme – which I belong to – while the indie store doesn’t. So when I wanted to buy my nephew a stack of books for Christmas, I was faced with the question: do I want to save R10 per book (average price difference) on eight books, immediately; or do I want to earn points on the more expensive books, which I can then only redeem at a later date, and only at the chain (as opposed to everywhere that accepts cash money).
You see, it would appear as though all those so-called free loyalty programmes have indirect costs, which we’re completely oblivious about, as consumers. Anyone can be a member of this ‘free’ programme. Everyone – whether you’re a member or not – will pay for some people to have this privilege, in the form of slightly higher prices on the actual merchandise you spend your money on.
Now, I’m not saying cut up your loyalty cards. But I for one will be thinking a lot more carefully about the benefits of shopping at one place rather than another that stocks the same product, possibly located more conveniently, maybe even offering a better overall shopping experience – because, yes, as a frugal shopaholic the entire experience for me is important; even more so now then when I was happy to buy everything everywhere at any cost.
Maybe we should all take a minute before getting swept up in the chaos of the new year and its endless possibilities to think if we really need, want, or use most of the loyalty programmes we belong to. I know of a few that really does come in handy for me personally. The book one isn’t on that list.