Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Points, Discounts and Promotions

When I was a kid, my mum sent me sometimes to a small grocery store called Seifenplatz, and always insisted to not forget collecting the stamps. Not that she was passionate in writing letters, the stamps she meant were discount stamps. The more you have the more discount you get (or sometimes certain items for free). I thought it was ridiculous, but who will stand against mums order?

Now, about 35 years later, I find myself sitting at the kitchen table and sticking stamps from BIG C into the small brochure. I am quite close to get the whole knife set, made in Germany, for free.

Points and discounts are a very important sales technique, that works all over the world, but it seems to me that Asia is even more responsive to it. Purses of the average shopper are full of membership and discount cards rather than money. Park a truck full of cheap Chinese shirts on the street and shout "Discount", and the whole village is on gridlock. When I left BIG C a couple of days ago, an old women asked me for, no, not money, but the discount stickers.

It goes even further: Yesterday, after dinner at a restaurant, we queued up behind a big family at the cashiers counter. They ate a lot, but for some reasons decided to split the bill. But right before grandmas bill was payed, they spotted the sign: 10 percent discount if you pay with a credit card of a certain bank. Bingo, the whole family has accounts with this bank, so the poor cashier had to cancel all payments and bill it again, this time carefully watched if every bill has the discount on it. In the meantime we made friends with the Thai couple behind us, and already considered where to go for breakfast next.

People even cheat for points: When I was asked at TOPS if I have a member card and said "No" (of course I have one, but forgot it at home), she instead typed a different number (I guess her's) in the system, before start to scan the products. And the next guy, apparently forgetful as me when it comes to hardware, remembered his member number and told it the cashier. I saw similar incidents at TESCO LOTUS.

UPDATE : stupid me. They just give the phone number. And database connects to their account.

It is kind of fascinating that we do not remember the phone numbers of our family members anymore, since we just ask Siri to call them. Instead, we fill the empty room with membership numbers. Times are changing.