Sunday, October 14, 2007

One-derful for Myer?

The Myer One loyalty program seems, on the face of it, to have been a winner for Myer. These are heady days for the department store group, with every statement from supremo Bernie Brookes intended to impress. And with Jennifer Hawkins standing up nicely to DJ's M. Gale, things appear headed in the right direction.

And amid Bernie's latest profit announcement came an update on the Myer One program. Bernie stated the program had 1.6 million customers on board, growing by 30,000 a month, and that over 55% of sales were on the program, compared with 43% at the time Coles sold Myer.

The growth figures are impressive. But I'm interested in 55% "penetration" of sales being a similar badge of honour. So is it a case of the higher the better? To my way of thinking, with $1,000 spend attracting a $20 gift card on Myer One, that means that 55% of Myer's sales are subject to this 2% discount. It all depends. If that discount is helping to lock in those sales, then fair enough. But what proportion of those sales was Myer going to get anyway? Does Myer know?

Because the tricky little key to loyalty programs is to offer the carrot in return for "sympathetic" shopping behaviour from your customer. If the carrot is being snapped up by customers who remain indifferent to you, then you've not gained.

Ignoring the above, with so many customers on board, Myer is collecting a lot of great information about its shoppers. And that in itself is valuable. And with Myer sharing a place in the same family as Debenhams, you'd hope that some of the learning gained by TPG with that retailer may be of benefit in harnessing the power of the data within Myer's grasp.

The Myer One program, in global terms, is in the middle of the pack as far as department store loyalty offerings are concerned. Certainly the changes they made about a year go turned it from something that was possibly too smart (read "complicated") for its own good, into an uncomplicated offering that delivers some benefit for its loyal shoppers. The new store card, and the soon-to-be-launched Visa Card may well work in well with the program. There are some signs that they're starting to do some good things with their data. Measuring the actual incremental benefit is a critical question that remains outstanding, but among all the arrows in Bernie's quiver, this One may well hit the target.