Is Barclaycard Bespoke really the antidote to daily deals fatigue?
A view from Tamara Gillan

Is Barclaycard Bespoke really the antidote to daily deals fatigue?

Barclaycard's daily deals service will have to become more distinctive if it wants to succeed, writes Tamara Gillan, founder and CEO of Cherry London.

The daily deals market has changed a lot since Groupon burst onto the scene in 2008. Hundreds of players have entered in search of riches and cluttered the UK market, so it’s not surprising that over 60% of consumers are experiencing ‘deal fatigue.’

Brands are also questioning the long-term commercial viability of using deal sites to drive a large proportion of their sales, as they are bearing the cost of both the discount and the commission. Many daily deals players themselves are faltering as their growth and profitability are not fast enough for their investors. Nectar’s exit earlier this year is just one example of how challenging the daily deals market has become in the UK. Naturally, brands and consumers are questioning whether daily deals really do have a future.

But the market isn’t dead – it’s (rapidly) maturing, with both aggregation and specialisation growing in popularity. The key to standing out is capturing consumer imagination with ownable and unique propositions, beyond discounts, and relevance: correctly targeted, from brands that consumers trust and want, and readily accessible via whatever channel the customer chooses. 

The challenge for Barclaycard’s Bespoke Offers and other players

Obviously Barclaycard identified the potential in this evolving market, but the challenge for Bespoke Offers is and will continue to be how to avoid further saturating the market with a me-too proposition.

Barclays has spend-based insight via Barclaycard, which serves over half the UK debit and credit market. Based on this incredibly valuable data, Bespoke Offers has the potential to offer customers real relevance - more of what they want based on purchasing behaviours, more of what they aspire to have though preferences, and less of what they don’t.

Barclaycard launched the programme with a multi-million pound ATL campaign garnering a lot of attention and promising personal relevance. In practice however, there is limited personalisation or sense of exclusivity and the targeting is more confused than intelligent - I was offered Toilet Tummy Cistern Pack alongside a discounted diamond ring. And while the launch partners are recognised and trusted brands, the majority of the offers are underwhelming and can be found elsewhere and in many cases on the daily deals sites that Barclaycard seeks to distance itself from (and provide an "antidote to").

Additionally, according to Moneywise News (May 2013), consumers also have to spend significantly or jump through hoops to redeem many of the offers featured. A spokesperson from Barclaycard has acknowledged that the average household would have to spend over £15,000 to make the annual saving of £2,100 a year, as they’ve also promised, which is unrealistic in this economy and is the antithesis of what Bespoke Offers purports to provide.

Bespoke Offers must evolve into something more distinctive with credible USPs and tangible value, otherwise the programme will get lost in the mire.

Bespoke Offers must evolve into something more distinctive with credible USPs and tangible value, otherwise the programme will get lost in the mire. I can only assume that Barclays, who also recently launched the innovative and extremely successful Pingit, is only just getting started and the best is yet to come.

Differentiation and looking forward

Deals, offers and discounts are now offered by a multitude of providers, from daily deal specialists, to service providers, to sports clubs and supermarkets. Players must be clear of what their primary objectives are and work backwards from there. Is it retention and customer value, or revenue they seek to maximise? This will define the shape of the programme and the type of benefits, partners offers and rewards.

In the case of our client O2, the development of Priority (Moments, Sports and Tickets) is anchored in customer retention; traditional daily deals play an important role in the programme, however through qualitative and quantitative research, we've attempted to offer customers something different, on top of a bed-rock of everyday offers.

We've tapped into passions like music, film and sport and are offering customers deals of tangible value. Some great examples of this are access to see films or gigs first, or the opportunity to try new products as well as free surprise treats like M&S Percy Pigs or a Caffe Nero Iced Coffee on a hot day.

For any brand looking to deliver customers daily deals, there are an abundance of tools which will create a differentiated proposition, offering an antidote to offer fatigue. Why not make the most of a brand’s DNA and translate this through the proposition (which is near impossible for traditional voucher/daily deals sites). This will create an inherent difference, and if the brand’s DNA is strong, as is the case with Sky, customers have an idea of what they’re going to get. 

This jump start to credibility is invaluable. Content (curation and creation) can also complement an offers programme and enable brands to give customers more than just an armful of daily deals. Using data and insight to understand how customers interact with your brand, ie, digital, social, and ensuring those channels are exploited is another. And let’s not forget technological advancements such as 4G which will deliver rewards, and make the most of your content creation.

Speaking about the success of Priority, managing director Mark Stevenson said: "We knew when we launched Priority Moments it was go big or go home – O2 had to offer its customers something they couldn’t get anywhere else. In the last two years we’ve developed Priority Moments to be the powerhouse it is today, a rich proposition that combines O2’s customers’ passions – music, sport, shopping/leisure - with O2’s own customer-centric approach and ‘owned’ areas. 

"Exclusivity and best-in-market offers are tenets of Priority, along with delivering our customers relevant content and money-can’t-buy experiences. In a nutshell, that’s what differentiated Priority Moments from the myriad of daily deals propositions."