Loyalty cards feature in the wallets of many Australian shoppers but not everyone is across how they can best make them work to their own advantage.
The Woolworths Rewards program, previously know as Everyday Rewards, promises those who sign up “one point for every dollar” they spend, but what do those points actually mean for shoppers?
While spruiked as an “easy” way to “save automatically” on groceries and petrol, consumers should make sure they’re not buying more, just because of a perceived long-term benefit, marketing expert at the University of Technology Sydney, Dr David Waller, told Yahoo News Australia.
“If you’re going to continue in your normal purchasing patterns and use the card, there can be some nice advantages,” Dr Waller said.
“But if you’re actively increasing your purchases, hoping that you’re going to get some big advantage at the end, it can actually cost you a lot more than what you get.”
“There’s been criticisms that the loyalty programs aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do and that the companies have been changing the rules and trying to get people to get extra benefits.”
How do Woolworths Rewards work?
Rewards work after customers register their details to a card, then scan it each time they pass through a checkout. Points will be earned for purchases at Woolworths supermarkets, Big W, BWS liquor outlets and participating Caltex service stations.
Once they accumulate 2000 points, they will receive a $10 discount off their next purchase.
Dr Waller said this benefit alone was often enough of an incentive for people to continue using their cards.
Woolworths Rewards bonus points
Specials each week where shoppers can earn extra points on specific items also presented as an attractive bonus for many, but this tracking of purchasing behaviour wasn’t popular with everyone, Dr Waller said.
“There’s a massive issue of privacy, and once these companies can get information, it’s not just the basic demographic information that they’re getting, they’re also finding out your purchasing behaviour, and they’re giving rewards based on your purchasing patterns,” he said.
“If you’re concerned about privacy, you’ve got to be aware that these companies are actually trying to find out more and more about your behaviour.
“To some extent, that can be helpful when you can find out about products you bought in the past being on special, and some people might see that as an advantage because it cuts down their searching.
“But there’s still the overarching concern of privacy and it’s not just a one-off giving of information, but you’re actually giving information every day and every week.”
Customers will also be offered exclusive promotions and sale prices only available for Rewards cardholders.
Woolworths Rewards vs Coles Flybuys
Woolworths’ main competitor Coles also offers its customers one point per dollar when they use a Flybuys card, which can also earn them a $10 bonus for every 2000 points.
The scheme has previously drawn criticism after people complained about difficulty in claiming money off air fares.
“One of the big complaints about Flybys was that not many people were doing as much purchasing that would actually get them flights,” Dr Waller said.
“Check what the benefits are and don’t purposely increase your purchasing behaviour and expect that you’re going to get massive awards for doing it.”
Woolworths rewards with Qantas
Through the Everyday Rewards, customers can now convert their Woolworths points into Qantas Points, which are part of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.
People that earn 2000 Woolworths Points, can opt to redeem 1000 Qantas Points as their reward, with 8000 points enough to purchase a flight from Sydney to Melbourne.
Are Woolworths rewards worth it?
Dr Waller said while there were benefits worth considering, consumers should be mindful they were not blowing their budgets for the pure sake of gaining points.
“Location and convenience can also outweigh any benefits that you get from loyalty cards,” he said.
“If you’re going to do it, don’t go crazy, just do your normal shopping and be aware that they’re looking at your behaviour every time you swipe the card.”
Dr Waller’s top tips:
Don’t alter your regular spending thinking you will get a huge benefit
Be aware of companies tracking your spending behaviour
Keep an eye out for special deals on things you purchase regularly
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