I’ve been thinking about this for a while: although not all the cafes offer loyalty cards, when they do, it’s an extension of the cafe-going experience, so it’s worth considering. I’ve scanned in a few that I picked up recently, and thrown them into this post.
In my own experience, my first encounter with these kinds of cards was from Gloria Jeans. In the olden days, they had two stripes of “buy ten”, the first gaining a free coffee, the second gaining your choice of free coffee or free small bag of coffee beans. Back then, you could go to any of the franchise stores, but look what they have now done:
The card isn’t stamped, but it’s punched with a custom punch. Over the years, they had various problems with people stealing the punches, and getting free cards: this is the trouble, I guess, with franchising.
Franchise tea store easy way had a similar problem, and ended up scrapping their whole card system, and replacing it with a database and magnetic stripe card. In the world of coffee, that’s something that Hudsons coffee did from when they arrived in Sydney. Every purchase adds up to reward points that can be cashed in on coffee, food, or other rewards.
So when you set up a reward system, one decision you have to make is whether you are trying to keep the customers aware of the cash value of the freebie, or if you are trying to create a relationship with them – to have a conversation of sorts.
Probably not having hired an expensive designer for these cards, we have a very economical card: four goes at “buy five, get one free”, and an extra space on the same card for the customer to buy ten meals, and get a free meal. It suggests a cheap-and-cheerful approach to running the business.
Espresso di Manfredi appears to offer its customers a template for cards that they can customise. This cafe, near the Philip Street (Law) campus of Sydney University, has two lots of buy ten, get one free on the one card, and limits the generosity of the free coffee. Even if you’ve bought ten large coffees, the free coffee is a small one. In my opinion, this undermines the spirit of the loyalty card: why not splash out and make a large coffee if your customer wants one?
This card for on the grind has a few coffee-themed photos on their card, the full contact details, and a star-shaped punch. After two runs at buy six, get one free, the customer gets no just a free coffee, but a free muffin as well.
Until I saw this card, I had no idea there were so many Miami Ice cafes around the place – this card spreads the word across the whole group of cafes, and the sales are marked off with a texta.
Home Espresso in North Sydney has a simple, elegant design for their cards: consistent branding on these cards, and the separate business cards. In this case, the hole punch ends up completely obliterating the card by the end: worse, there’s no contact details on the card – it’s up to the customer to keep coming back. The problem here is that it makes it harder for word of mouth to spread: instead of being able to give the card to someone else, you have to walk your friend down to the shop yourself.
If you want to see a real relationship develop on a single card, look at this card from caffe marco. The longer you hold onto the card, the more you get. First, you have to buy seven coffees to get a free one. Next, six, then only four, and then, you can come back and have a free dessert with a meal. It’s a little celebration on a card: plus there are seventeen coffees bought.
Newcomer three beans has gone to town on their sense of design, and trying to carry on their hippy, environmental theme – and their branding – across to their cards. There’s no punching to be seen here, instead, it’s a coffee-bean shaped stamp.
So that’s it for the initial review of these cards: what does your favourite coffee do to inspire loyalty?