For most pub-goers, the reward for popping down to their local has
usually been a personal greeting from the bar staff and the pleasure of
seeing a pint of the usual pulled as they walk through the door.
But no longer. Last week, Bass Taverns introduced what it claims is the
first pub loyalty card across 100 of its community pubs. The scheme,
called CheckPoints, offers the obligatory plastic card and the chance to
collect one point for every pounds 1 spent, with 25 points equalling
pounds 1 off the next purchase of food or drink.
Customers can collect up to pounds 5 on the card from any purchase
between Sunday and Thursday, and can redeem the points in any
After a test run in 20 pubs in Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, Bass
Taverns is expecting around 80% of customers in participating pubs to
’It brings us into relationship marketing and enables us to identify our
valuable consumers and treat them accordingly,’ says Bass Taverns’
customer loyalty manager, Jim Mercer.
However, the pattern of spending in a pub is very different from that
for other retail purchases, such as groceries, petrol or household
A pub visit typically involves at least two or three transactions, with
the card having to be topped up with points each time.
’The challenge is that the value of spend is quite low, so you have to
concentrate on the high-value customers and you have to use the data to
good effect to give people real benefit,’ says one relationship
Bass Taverns is hoping to overcome customer inertia to the scheme by
introducing a pint glass graphic on the card which gradually fills up as
points are collected.
’In the trial we did come across one or two cynics, but they were
overcome once their friends had signed up,’ says Mercer. ’We are
encouraging our managers to positively sign people up, and we hope that
the graphic on the card will encourage the development of a dialogue
with the customer at the point of sale.’
However, lingering doubts remain. In a typical pub visit, each person
may buy a round for two or three friends, who then in turn each buy
their own round. It is a difficult environment in which to accurately
reflect each individual’s exact purchasing habits.
Marcus Evans, chairman of Bates Communications, says it is the
information collected through the scheme and not the level of reward
which makes or breaks it.
’Too many people focus on the reward,’ he says. ’The reward is
essentially the price the company pays for accurate communication, and
it is that which drives the programme. Otherwise, all you have is
But Bass’s scheme comes at the tail end of a period of intense activity
on the loyalty front by many companies. It is now over two years since
Tesco launched its Clubcard and a raft of companies have since jumped on
the loyalty bandwagon.
One too many?
There are an estimated 20 million loyalty cards in the UK - roughly one
for every household. When the effectiveness of current schemes has been
disputed, the question of whether there is a demand for yet another
loyalty card in people’s wallets is a valid one.
Recent research by NOP for Marketing shows that existing supermarket
loyalty cards have failed to make a major impact on customer
Of the 1000 people questioned, two-thirds said they did not visit that
store any more often than before.
While Bass Tavern’s Mercer remains confident the scheme is going to
boost sales, as Evans of Bates Communications says, the ultimate loyalty
programme is still: ’Hi Bob! Had a hard day? Pint of the usual?’