PAYBACK celebrated its 20th birthday in 2020. Managing Director Bernhard Brugger on the added value of the bonus program and the future of the points world.
Berni, how did the idea of collecting points come about?
PAYBACK was launched in March 2000 in a small office in Munich with a grand vision: to offer customers benefits for shopping with just one loyalty card, not just at a single company, but at a number of different ones - enabling them to save money more quickly. After just two months, one million customers in Germany were already collecting points with PAYBACK.
How did the company continue to develop?
A three-man office has grown into 1,000 employees, and PAYBACK is now present in eleven countries worldwide, including Austria, Italy, Poland, Mexico and even India. We have evolved from a discount program to a benefits program that sends customers the right offers offline, online and mobile. Our more than 31 million customers in Germany are also increasingly using PAYBACK via app. It has everything - mobile card, coupons and a payment function, too.
Is that one reason for PAYBACK's success - that there is always something new?
Constant further development is very important. But I think what makes PAYBACK special is our more than 680 partners. But whether in bricks-and-mortar retail or online, customers can now collect points with actually every purchase they make and take advantage of a host of other offers. The success of PAYBACK is that you can feel the added value. As a household, you can easily save between 200 and 300 euros a year with PAYBACK. Incidentally, in 20 years of PAYBACK, customers have collected 4.2 billion euros and redeemed 3.5 billion euros - in other words, they have actually saved money. When over 90 percent of points are redeemed, it means that a program is very much alive and relevant.
What is the best way for customers to earn lots of points?
By using as many coupons and promotions as possible. Those who subscribe to the email newsletter always know about offers, and those who have the PAYBACK app can no longer forget any coupons at home. With PAYBACK GO, a service within the app, additional offers and point coupons have recently even been sent directly to the cell phone when the customer is in the vicinity of the partners. Customers who use one of our credit cards also collect a lot of points on top.
Kaufhof leave the program and dm has halved the points, can not customers there always less points collected?
PAYBACK was, is and will remain attractive in the future, thanks to the 680 partners in our program. They ensure that the points pot is continually getting fuller - the annual volume of points has increased fivefold over the last 20 years! In 2019, customers collected points worth 450 million euros, which was another new record. And now we're aiming for the half billion mark. dm will also award more points than ever before, but in a more targeted way than before.
What options does PAYBACK offer for redeeming points?
The most popular is direct redemption in stores, by deducting the value of the points from the purchase price at the checkout. If the customer has 2,000 points, for example, that's 20 euros less that he or she pays at the checkout. But it is also possible to redeem points for attractive rewards, for example, or to donate the points to a good cause. For example, I'm very happy to support "Lichtblick Hasenbergl" here in Munich.
Point donations have so far raised over 5 million euros. What was the money used for?
The PAYBACK world of donations was launched ten years ago. Here, aid projects are supported in a very transparent way. Customers decide for themselves which of 100 projects they would like to support and with how many points. And 100 percent of the donation is always forwarded to the aid organizations.
How do you answer critics who have concerns about data privacy?
Data protection is an important issue that everyone has to deal with today. At PAYBACK, data protection and data security are top priorities. It goes without saying that we do not sell any data or pass it on among our partners. Customers decide what happens to their data, whether they give us their consent or not. The TÜV data protection audit and annual recertification are just as important to us.
You've been on board since PAYBACK was launched and have been PAYBACK's Managing Director for over ten years. What are the greatest successes for you personally?
Every time customers score with our partners, that's a success for me. And after all, they do so around 5 million times a day. In these fast-changing times, we are delighted with all the customers who remain loyal to us and our partners. We are delighted with every single PAYBACK customer!