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Feb 13, 2017

Cash back is back

by Jackie Marshall - Senior Account Director

Cash back is back

For as long as I can remember, brands have been using cash back incentives to encourage everything from the purchase of cheese and crackers to cars and caravans.

The traditional method would often involve the mailing in of invoices, receipts, address details and, in the case of grocery lines, even bits of the packaging. In return consumers would receive a refund back in the post often in the form of a paper cheque.

In line with the modernisation of most promotional techniques these days the cash back has become digital and, with it, a dramatic rise in the number of shopper saving services out there.

Most of you will be familiar with mySupermarket which launched in the UK in 2006.  The site, serving as a price comparison portal, was one of the first to allow shoppers to check the brand pricing across most major retailers - thus enabling them to pinpoint the lowest offerings on any given day. Since then the available tools on offer have expanded and the site now boasts a number of further money saving options, including the opportunity to highlight where cash back offers may be available. 

Others have gone further by rewarding purchase with direct cash back refunds, usually via a downloadable mobile application. Over the last five years several such schemes have been fighting for a share of this lucrative market including Shopitize, Quidco ClickSnap, Topcashback Snap & Save, CheckoutSmart and Shopmium. 

For shoppers the attraction is clear and, whilst there are differences by provider, the main principles remain the same:

Once signed up they’ll receive emailed offers, be encouraged to check the app before leaving home or indeed once in-store to find the latest deals. They then buy the item, instantly upload a photo of the till receipt to show their purchase and are then eligible to receive qualifying money back refunds, paid directly into their bank accounts. No stamps, no delay, no brainer!

But what’s in it for a brand owner?

Engagement and interaction

The growth of interaction through social media platforms means that not only do participating shoppers benefit from the cash back themselves, they then go on to share the knowledge of the savings and importantly engage in conversations which also involve sharing news and information about the brands per se.

The set up of digital campaigns allows the brand to interact directly with the shoppers right through the path to purchase.

Direct communications

For major FMCG brands, a key incentive to use these apps is that it allows a direct marketing channel to shoppers circumventing the constraints and restrictions faced by going through the major supermarkets. Promotions and rewards can be made directly to shoppers without compromising objectives and challenges faced by the retailers.

Immense value of rich data

Opportunities are available to collect valuable data about shopper habits both before and after purchase. In addition, further information can be gleaned regarding shopper views on new launches and existing product enabling brand owners to use these valuable insights to improve future developments.

The more data that can be gathered, the more opportunities there are for personalising future communications and incentives to shoppers.

It certainly seems like a win-win situation for all concerned and with reward websites alone getting nearly 3 billion hits a year, according to Experian's Hitwise, cash backs are not just back for a while, they are definitely back for good.

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Shopper, Digital, Loyalty, Mobile

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