Customer cards are a big hit with shoppers

Customer loyalty highest with Miles & More, Payback and Douglas
Latest study on bonus programmes in Germany

The results of a recent TNS Emnid survey on cards and customer cards in Germany showed that on average Germans carry 4.5 cards in their wallets. The clear favourite is the EC card with 82 percent; health insurance cards take second place with 77 percent. The Payback card and credit cards offered by a range of companies are in joint third place with 32 percent each.

According to these results, bonus programmes are clearly becoming increasingly popular in Germany. Almost two-thirds of Germans (64 percent) carry at least one customer card in their wallets at all times. Consequently, many customers always take cards with them when they go shopping. In fact, more than one-third (34 percent) of customers use cards automatically when they want to buy something. Most customers use the Payback card – 36 percent of those questioned are members of the multi-partner Payback programme, followed by Happy Digits with 18 percent and the Rewe card with 12 percent.

People who took part in the survey said they believe that becoming members of a bonus programme has changed their purchasing patterns. Customer loyalty is rated highest for the Lufthansa Miles & More frequent flyer programme, Payback and the Douglas card – 34 percent of those questioned said they now book more flights since being members of the Miles & More programme, and 38 percent said they are happier to do so.

Payback customers have also changed their purchasing habits. Since becoming members, 26 percent said they shopped more at Payback partner companies, and 32 percent claimed they are happier to go shopping now. Twenty-five percent of Douglas card holders maintained that they shop more often in the company’s perfumery outlets, and 35 percent said they prefer to shop in the store since they have card.

When asked to name the programme with the best customer benefits, 34 percent chose Payback, 7 percent Happy Digits and 6 percent each chose Miles & More, Ikea Family and Bahn Comfort, a status programme offered by Deutsche Bahn (the German railway company). Those questioned only assessed the bonus programmes they were familiar with. Results also showed that there is additional potential for some companies’ cards, for example 9 percent of those taking part in the survey who do not have a railcard said they would like to have one, and 8 percent of those questioned said they would like to have the IKEA Family card. An option to use the customer card to make payments could make the cards even more popular with Germans – 11 percent said they would be interested in this additional function.

All in all, consumers are happy with the bonus programmes. Forty percent of those who took part in the survey rated these programmes as “good overall.” Thirty-two percent said that it was fun to collect points and 15 percent said that the bonus card makes them feel like a preferred customer. From the consumer’s point of view, what makes a customer card most attractive is the option to use it in several different shops (76 percent). Special offers and services available only with the card were rated as the second most important benefit (63 percent). Coupons offering money off and other advantages are also popular (51 percent).

The representative study was carried out by telephone in August 2006 by TNS Emnid Medien- und Sozialforschung GmbH on behalf of the Payback operating company Loyalty Partner. 1,000 people over the age of 16 were questioned as part of the survey.