Promoting Customer Loyalty through Attitude and Discounts

Customer loyalty is essential for successful trade marketing. “Purpose”, the question of the “why” of a company, plays an increasingly important role in this context. In the organic sector it is part of the DNA. But this does not make it any easier to establish customer loyalty.

The most important answer to the question of how consumers can be turned into regular customers in retail is: Know your customers and their needs – and meet them. But unfortunately, it is no longer quite as simple as that, as Thomas Täuber, Managing Director at the management consultancy Accenture Germany, writes in an article for “Today, as a retailer, it is no longer enough just to know who my customer is, I have to build up a personal relationship with them.” According to Täuber, the key to this lies in building trust.

In this context, “Purpose” has recently become much more important: Consumers are increasingly basing their purchasing decisions on what a company justifies its economic actions with. According to Täuber, retailers must therefore review and sharpen or redefine the “core” of their business from the customer’s perspective: What is the purpose and raison d’être of my company? What relevance and concrete added value do I offer the customer in everyday life?

For the organic sector, this should actually not be a problem, since the answer to the “why” is at the core of ecologically sustainable products. In a growing market, however, it has long since ceased to be enough to rely on the loyalty of customers who come to the organic food store for their attitude towards the environment, climate and animal welfare. Attitude, the commitment to sustainability, still plays a major role – and the BNN’s “Eco Instead of Ego” campaign ties in with this.

Organic customers are also normal consumers

But the organic consumer is also increasingly becoming a “normal” customer who wants to have a shopping experience and be entertained. Three years ago, for example, in addition to the display of customer magazines, organic farming already numbered the tasting of new, seasonal or popular products, competitions, discount campaigns, customer events such as cooking courses and natural cosmetics advice, as well as customer parties and other special campaigns among the essential measures for customer loyalty.

Customer cards should not be underestimated. These are widely used in the organic trade, but essentially copy the Payback model: points are collected when purchases are made, and once a certain number of points have been collected, they can be redeemed as a discount on later purchases. Sometimes the discounts are staggered from 0.5 percent with a monthly turnover of 50 Euros to 5 percent with a monthly turnover of more than 500 Euros, sometimes they are fixed and amount to 1 point per purchase of 5 Euros; for 50 points, a discount of 10 percent is granted on the next purchase.

Full mainstream for customer cards

The Grünkauf discount card can be used at 140 partner companies. In addition, numerous organic retailers have their own customer card: Dennʼs offers a loyalty discount in its more than 250 shops, the BioMarkt-Card can be used at 95 of the organic markets, the Bio Company’s customer card in 59 shops of the chain, but also small suppliers such as BioMare with three shops or the Feinsinn-Bioladen in Mühldorf am Inn have their own customer cards.

Many of the cards can be used anonymously; those who value birthday surprises can personalise them. In this case, personal invitations to special events also beckon. It is also very common to offer special offers exclusively to holders of customer cards – even in the organic trade, the main advantage of a customer card is the granting of discounts, in this, the organic industry is no different from the mainstream. Only the distribution is different: Payback has 680 partner companies and over 31 million active card users.