It pays to be disloyal when it comes to supermarket shopping
THE nice ladies on the checkouts were telling the shoppers to buy more groceries so they could spend enough to qualify to use their money-off vouchers.
So everyone else with loaded trolleys in the busy queue had to wait in Dunnes Stores as some item – any item, so long as it would tip the spending up to the required level – was grabbed and scanned.
Yes indeed, the latest variation of the loyalty card schemes being run by retailers is very clever.
The Weston household normally spends €130 a week on groceries for two adults and two children. So those clever clogs in Dunnes marketing department have come up with a wheeze to get the spending up – send money-off vouchers to Value Card holders.
And who could refuse "free money"?
The deals are individualised for each household. In our case, the offer is €25 off the grocery bill each week at the moment if at least €170 is spent.
So you get €170 of goods for €145.
And it's working. Many shoppers were making sure they had enough in their trolley to hit the free-money voucher marks. When they didn't, there was a mad dash to grab something to tip them into the free-money zone.
The idea here seems to be to get people to move from some psychologically important set amount they spend every week and fork out even more.
In my household, spending has moved up. Dunnes is hoping it will stay at that level.
Tesco is into these clever loyalty schemes that encourage you to shop with it, and spend more. It is offering 5c off a litre of petrol for every €50 spent in groceries, or is 15 cent off per litre if you buy €100 in groceries.
The supermarket chains are tapping into something powerful here. A recent report from Belfast-based research group Mintel found that two out of three adults have at least one loyalty card, with two out of five of us holding three or more.
With the average family grocery spend a mighty €6,000 a year, many people consider it worth collecting these points.
Of course the best course of action is not to be loyal at all, and instead have a card from every store.
But we just need to be careful that our fondness for loyalty schemes does not mean we get permanently sucked into spending more than we usually do.