Sunday 12 July 2009

Remember… Primum non nocere

Primum non nocere is Latin for “Do no harm” and is a traditionally used within the medical profession to mean “given an existing problem, it may be better to do nothing than to do something that risks causing more harm than good”.

This thought came to mind when I saw the recent campaign from McCoys crisps. Not because it was an instant win sales promotion but rather because of the targeting of the campaign. It’s clear from the advertising and the campaign website that this is squarely aimed at men. Obviously the strapline “McCoys : Man Crisps” gives this away in a less than subtle way, but the whole digital experience is also clearly designed to appeal to men.

Helen Warren-Piper, Snacks Director at United Biscuits is quoted as saying “McCoy’s are unashamedly for men. We want to celebrate all that’s great about them, by giving them a crisp they deserve and can share with their mates when they’re enjoying being blokey.”

However, I’m a man, I eat McCoys and the campaign seemed a little too “obvious” for my liking. It seemed to come across as more Loaded and Nuts, appealing to a laddish segment. This I’ve no doubt is the intention, but if you’ve just rejected 50% of the population it’s a fine line to walk to pick up your core customers exactly. I’m guessing I’m not their core customer given the campaign, but it does raise an interesting question:-

How can you create a campaign or programme which can appeal to your core base whilst not alienating your other, smaller customer segments. Essentially Primum non nocere.

When creating a loyalty programme, one of the key aspects of attracting, motivating and retaining your key customers is the reward selection. If this doesn’t appeal then it’s unlikely to factor into a customers decision - whether conscious or subconscious – to make that next purchase.

However, where a product or service has a wide appeal, then selecting these rewards and the overall creative proposition for the programme can be a challenge. Do you go down the mass route like Nectar and provide a wide variety of rewards or position the programme to a particular segment using rewards like Travel (Airmiles), Money Can’t Buy (HMV) or Gadgets (McCoys) and risk ignoring some of your customers.

There is no right answer here as it will really depend on how focused you want the programme or campaign to be, but there are ways of achieving both successfully.

Two schemes stand out for me and the first is Tesco Clubcard. If any programme wraps up the principle of Primum non nocere it is Tesco Clubcard.

Schemes like Nectar and Tesco Clubcard need to appeal to a wide audience – with penetration of around 50% of households there is no room for a specific reward segmentation - these schemes need something for everyone.

I think Clubcard though has the edge here and this is due to their clever programme design. At it’s most basic level, it’s a cash based reward which can be spent back in store and so has the mass appeal. However, providing up to 4 times the cash value when the reward is used against the Clubcard Deals ensures that customers are drawn to these non-cash options.

Non-cash rewards are known to be more motivating and engaging for customers so this combination of cash leading to non-cash within Clubcard works well.

The other element that Clubcard does well is how it uses comms channels. It would be cheaper to simply use POS and online to communicate to customers, yet they still do a huge amount of DM. Whilst posting the reward value quarterly ensures over 95% redemption, the deals are also made available within a paper catalogue.

I think this mix of online and offline is key to continued engagement as it allows people to browse rewards quickly and easily at different occasions. Sometimes presenting rewards purely online, whilst cost effective may not be the most engaging way.

The second brand that stands out to me is Walkers - which is probably no surprise given I have written about them a number of times – but they are really innovating at the moment within loyalty and sales promotion.

Although Walkers have a mass product, what they are using is a combination of focused promotions - each having a different appeal - rolled out in a dial-up / dial-down fashion to ensure a continued presence. Using this mechanism allows them to continually engage and re-engage customer segments.

Those who liked Brit Trips, may not have been as engaged with Do us a Flavour, however with the launch of Gary’s Great Trip’s these customers can be re-engaged. This is a clever strategy and at no point does it specifically push away any customers – it will just be less interesting – doing no harm.

Contrast this with competitor brand McCoys which has not only gone for a specific gender, but has also aimed its campaign at a very focused sub-segment within this. Although not a bad strategy if they believe this market is profitable and underserved, it will make it more difficult to retain customers outside of this today and ultimately to acquire outside of this at a later stage.

There is more to loyalty than a case of wine or a toaster and the whole proposition - from how the programme is promoted and communicated through to the selection of rewards - will ultimately dictate who is attracted to the scheme and how successful this is in changing behaviour.

When designing a programme to attract and appeal to a given customer segment, it would be wise to remember the phrase Primum non nocere - making sure that your other customer segments are not turned off by the campaign as you may ultimately do more harm than good.

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