Pigsback loyalty scheme adds leisure rewards
The Ireland/UK-based loyalty programme 'Pigsback' has teamed up with Whitbread to allow members to redeem their PiggyPoints for leisure vouchers covering high street brands such as Pizza Hut, Beefeater, Café Rouge, Marriott Hotels and TGI Friday's.
The partnership is beneficial to programme members because, apart from providing a wider range of rewards, the vouchers are redeemable at low point levels compared to existing rewards. A single PiggyPoint equates to £0.01, and rewards now begin at 395 points.
Carefully timed and relevant consumer e-mails, along with brand-specific pages for partner businesses, are being sent out to help drive members to the new voucher section. After Pigsback members have redeemed a gift voucher they may also be entitled to a Leisure Voucher's added-value promotional booklet, which provides other brand offers, such as buying one meal and getting another one free.
Conversion encouraged According to Jo Malvern, marketing director for Pigsback, "Encouraging member loyalty and repeat visits is at the heart of our Empathy Marketing concept. Turning loyalty points into tangible, attractive, rewards motivates consumers to return to the site, participate in offers and competitions and most importantly, interact and purchase from our partner brands." Whitbread Leisure Vouchers' key account manager, Darren Ziff, added: "In this age of increasing media fragmentation we are always looking for new ways of driving footfall to our main target outlets."
Members receive targeted and exclusive offers, and can enter competitions and polls through the programme. They earn PiggyPoints by interacting with the site and Pigsback partners, and can read and add to other members' submissions. The site also provides helpful information in areas such as travel and wellbeing.
Pigsback.com recruits consumers through its own marketing activities. These have a strong focus on field recruitment, using the brand mascot "Curly". Female commuters are targeted by strongly branded promotional teams with premiums such as branded "stress pigs" (hand-held, squeezable pigs made of rubber), key-rings, and so on. When they consequently visit the Pigsback.com web site, they can join the programme for free, and gain access to their own personalised Pigsback website and e-mails.
Organisation The programme's operator, Empathy Marketing Ltd (EML), was established in Ireland in March 2000, and now employs fifty people across its Dublin and London offices. The idea behind Pigsback was to bring brands and consumers together for mutual benefit through the company's concept of "Empathy Marketing" (i.e. responding and adapting to consumers' changing media habits). Originally a concept based around organising sampling to consumers on behalf of brands, the programme evolved into an interactive and targeted consumer relationship management system.
According to EML, Pigsback operates within a strict, self-imposed set of business rules:
- Consumers must give clear-cut opt-in permission.
- The scheme provides both relevance and exclusive benefits.
- Communications frequency is carefully measured.
- Benefits are offered in the lifestyle and entertainment arenas as well as in the harder commercial sectors.
- There is a soft and less commercial tone to all communications.
- The scheme's approach is marketing-led in all ways.
Consumers are also protected by the company's policy on data privacy as well as its "no junk mail" guarantee, and no communication is ever sent to anyone under the age of 18.
Regular communication Members have the option of signing up for one or more regular emails (all of which carry occasional invitations to earn PiggyPoints by taking part in member surveys), including:
- Sizzler (once a week) Sizzler contains a selection of the best offers on site based on the consumer's interests.
- Food and Grocery Newsletter (once every 2 weeks) Consumers can save money on weekly supermarket shopping with popular brand names. The newsletter also carries occasional invitations to earn PiggyPoints by taking part in surveys.
- Travel and Weekender Newsletter (once every 2 weeks) Contains all the best travel offers from participating travel brands.
- Wellbeing Newsletter (once a month) Contains tips from wellbeing experts to help members maintain a healthy lifestyle, along with exclusive pampering offers and competitions.
Growth pattern The original Pigsback service was launched in July 2000, and the loyalty programme launched in Northern Ireland in September 2002, then in the UK in June 2005. Pigsback.com currently claims more than 202,000 active Irish members (65% female and 35% male). The web site itself claims 6.5 million page impressions per month from 27,000 unique visitors per day. In 2004, some 90,000 active members printed more than 3.5 million grocery coupons, and over 100 million PiggyPoints were issued during the year (equivalent to Euro 1,000,000.00 in redemption value).
As an interesting side note, the programme was named after the phrase "On the pig's back", which is derived from an old Gaelic expression "Ar muin na muice" meaning "to be on a winner" or "to be one step ahead". According to Malvern, "Pigsback carefully and progressively cultivates strong consumer loyalty by always attending to consumer interests."
Partner benefits As with any coalition, there are marketing benefits for the retail partners. For example:
- Brands can bring targeted offers to consumers, either by e-mail or through the Pigsback.com web site. Campaigns designed to reach the Pigsback membership can be designed to address a number of key objectives, including brand awareness, product trials, or data capture.
- Positioning solutions include sponsorships (with themed zones linked to categories or events), feature promotions, and interactive advertising through newsletters.
- Purchase conversion aids include a coupon programme, and free product sampling.
- Marketing data options include demographic feedback, surveys and research projects.
Among the programme's many retail partners are well-known brands such as: Bank of Ireland, GlaxoSmithKline, Ford, Tesco Ireland, Blockbuster, Figleaves, ExtraVision, Coca-Cola, ESB Customer Supply, O2, BetFair, eBay, AerLingus.com, FlyBMI.com, UGC Cinemas, Sprite, Galtee, CD WOW!, Lever Faberge Ireland, Oasis, TopTable.co.uk, Virgin Wines, and Kellogg's. Pigsback.com has over 350 client partnerships in FMCG, Telecommunications, Home Entertainment, Financial sectors, with over 220 different offers on site.