The programme concept is simple: Friend will always help you in any difficult situation. «Need help? Call a friend,» «One card for all occasions.» Friend card holders will be able to solve their difficulties as soon as possible by calling a single number of the round-the-clock support centre. For example, a refrigerator or a car got broken, you urgently need to order a bunch of flowers, or you need to clean your upholstered furniture. These and many similar issues will be easily solved together with a Friend.
The original idea of the project belongs to Alexey Bogadelin, former commercial director of the Shuyskiye Sitsy Cotton Mills. According to him, he constantly used marketing tools in his career, but he never seriously considered marketing as business. At the same time, there was a desire to do something new. «I had to think, to search, to try new ideas for a long time,» he admits. And, as it happens, the idea of the project came from a personal need: «The thing was that, like any modern buyer, I had in my wallet, briefcase, car, and at home a lot of discount and bonus cards from different boutiques, shops, and restaurants. The main part of which is used (if not forgotten), at best, 2–3 times a year; during the rest time, this is unrelated rubbish giving dubious benefits: if a discount is granted, it is small, and if bonuses, then their conditions are just one-sided, or they simply expire until the next purchase. It is inconvenient for me as a consumer. But it would be great to spend the accumulated bonuses, for example, from the purchase of shoes on your breakfast. That is, how I understand benefits!»
This is how Alexey got inspired by the idea of creating a coalition loyalty programme, which would help its business partners to conduct a competent and profitable marketing strategy. As Alexey admits: «It would be great if businessmen stopped losing money on reckless discounts. It is no secret that in fact discount policy no longer stimulates customers to re-purchase and does not involve them in constant communication and interaction with a seller. And we are not even talking about targeted marketing here.» According to Alexey, a single card for all partners would help in solving these business issues.
Alexey has begun creating the concept of a coalition programme since October 2014. He involved the Zolotaya Seredina experts in this process. And by December, a partnership project has been fully developed.
The main advantages of the project are:
- 100% of bonuses can be spent on purchases;
- up to 35% of purchases return to your card;
- 1 bonus = 1 rouble; and
- cost control through a personal dashboard.
As Alexey Bogadelin admits: «In addition to main advantages, the buyers will be able to enjoy the advanced features of the Friend programme. For example, a roadside assistance, repair shops, etc. After all, simple transfer of bonuses from one partner to another is the basic condition of the programme, but creating an additional service for customers is a significant advantage among similar programmes.» According to Alexey, thanks to the participation of the Zolotaya Seredina experts, the pitfalls that a novice would not have noticed during the development of the coalition programme were easily overcome. Summing up the first results, Alexey notes that many tasks have been solved without loss of functionality and security.
Today, there are still some difficulties associated with the economic situation in the country, on the one hand, and the psychology of a current entrepreneur, on the other.
The first challenge is the economic situation that slows down many businessmen in making certain decisions. Since people now do not buy a lot, we cannot talk about the rapid development of this project. Thus, according to the assessment of 2014, the buying activity has decreased by 8%. Experts predict that by the end of 2015, this figure will reach 20%. On the other hand, people have become more rational, they see a purchase as a forced thing. For example, in the category of manufactured goods, before any purchase, people very seriously consider all offered options, make a choice. Sellers have to fight for this choice. That is why a single bonus card is a great marketing tool to strengthen your position among competitors and similar proposals.
The second difficulty is the business mentality. This is how it happens: until money gets to the cashier, entrepreneurs are willing to return it to a buyer in the form of discounts. But as soon as money is in a cash desk and a buyer wants to use the programme’s conditions, here the problems begin. «Psychologically, two of three programme partners do not want to fulfil their obligations to a buyer, do not want to give goods without money. And this is what we deal with. I think that in 2016 it will be much easier. Our partners will appreciate the advantages of working in a coalition and, on the contrary, will fight for bonus cancellation in their retail and service enterprises,» says Alexey Bogadelin.
The prospect of the project is very broad. Every day we conduct negotiations, and the list of programme partners grows. So far the Friend programme develops only in Ivanovo. Once the programme receives certain indicators, the Friend project management will start to launch it in other Russian cities.