M&S taps into the 'psychology of gaming' with major new data-led loyalty scheme

M&S has been working behind the scenes for four years on what marketing director Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne described as a "game changing" new loyalty club that borrows from the psychology of gaming in the way it engages members.

M&S: launching 'Sparks' membership club, which uses data to deliver personalised rewards
M&S: launching 'Sparks' membership club, which uses data to deliver personalised rewards

M&S is launching a "groundbreaking" new channel-agnostic loyalty initiative called Sparks, that lets customers build up points to redeem rewards. 

Spark points have no monetary value but can be saved up and redeemed against hyper-personalised offers based on the shoppers' preferences - from discounts to 'money can't buy experiences', including meeting David Gandy and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

Different levels of points unlock different levels of rewards, encouraging consumers to engage with the scheme and save points. The scheme awards 10 Sparks points for every £1 spent and 25 sparks for every customer review submitted.

This enables a powerful new retailer/customer relationship. It is a massive investment but now is the right time

It will launch on 22 October and has been created by developers who had previously designed games on platforms including Facebook. It will not replace existing schemes.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, M&S marketing director, said Sparks was a "future proof... groundbreaking and transformative" mechanic that would evolve in response to customer feedback.

"As a member... you’ll get the most from M&S – with tailor-made offers, priority access and invites to exclusive events. It’s a two way relationship; members tell us what they enjoy, select their own tailored offers and are rewarded for sharing their views," he said.

When members activate their account they are asked to set their preferences and will be given a tailored joining offer to encourage them to kick start the membership. 

M&S' move is one of a number of high-profile overhauls to loyalty schemes this year. It follows John Lewis, Waitrose and Morrisons, which dropped the Match element of its Match & More card this month. 

"There are a tremendous amount of good practices across the business; everybody is trying to get that connection with the customer. Up until recently technology was not enabling us to connect the platforms," he told Marketing.

"[Previously] you had a view of your consumers in stores, a view of them on dot com and on the M&S app but these were siloed and there was no connectivity in-between. What we are doing is bridging the three universes so we have a view of the consumer across platforms."

"The traditional view of loyalty was: OK I'll reward your monetary transactions, but now that is obsolete because there is a mutual depth of conversation. I could see us going towards co-creation of products... and [letting] the design and the shape of the club evolve based on what primary members want."

"This enables a powerful new retailer/customer relationship... It is a massive investment but now is the right time to do it."