Archive Observations: Keeping Customers Loyal
In these shaky economic times, what are retailers doing to keep people buying? Mailing more incentives to their loyal customers, for one. In April, an offer from Macy’s to one of its “best customers” featured four savings cards spot-glued to one of the inside panels of its 5-1/2˝ x 8-1/2˝ self-mailer (Archive code #910-171661-0804G). Ace Hardware chose another approach—flattery—with its mailing to a rewards program member. First, the customer is congratulated for past patronage of a local Ace Hardware store. Second, the customer is given a “jump start,” which is enough of an increase in rewards points to equal a $5 savings card. The card is personalized and attached to a panel of the 5-1/2˝ x 8-1/2˝ self-mailer. Bullet point reminders of exclusive program benefits and another $5 discount coupon on a specific weed killer product round out the mailing (Archive code #910-685181-0804).
Kay Jewelers took advantage of a Mother’s Day to promote its Customer Appreciation Event. Mailed in a plain-looking 5-1/2˝ x 7-1/2˝ envelope, the promotion shows a choice of items available for $39.99 each. A personalized savings card is attached to the mailing offering discounts of up to 25 percent on regular store and catalog prices (Archive code #910-670258-0804). Finally, Old Navy’s mailing highlights “beach-ready looks for spring”. A customer gets a 20 percent discount for using her Gap or Banana Republic card when shopping with an enclosed plastic bag tucked into a pocket of the 6˝ x 9-1/2˝ self-mailer. As the bag measures 18˝ x 15-3/4˝ when unfolded, that could mean quite a few shorts, shirts, bikinis and shoes (Archive code #910-399510-0804).
Energy utilities aren’t exactly the type of business one would immediately associate with conservation, aside from Green Mountain, and a few others that popped up following marketplace deregulation in recent years. But three mailings we received in April show that there are more traditional energy companies changing that image by offering incentives to consumers to conserve energy. Con Edison promoted ENERGYNY, a set of programs to invest in new infrastructure and help businesses and consumers go green. With the teaser “Be a part of tomorrow, today”, the 8-1/2˝ x 8-1/2˝ self-mailer lays out the plan’s goals including purchasing products that use less electricity. The customer is directed to detach and return the BRC to get a free energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulb (Archive code #807-178095-0804).
A 6˝ x 11˝ postcard mailed by the California Center for Sustainable Energy, a program funded by several utilities, promotes the California Solar Initiative. Consumers can use cash incentives to purchase a solar power system, which, in turn, will reduce their electric bills, according to a small chart on the mailing (Archive code #390-714768-0804).
SDGE’s #10 envelope mailing entices customers with this teaser, “The more energy you save, The more you earn.” The letter promises “an easy way to Go Green,” a Summer Saver device that, once installed, cycles a home’s central air system during high system demand. SDGE also includes incentives of almost $200 in annual credits, and free installation and service (Archive code #347-701112-0804).
Grand Control Update & Profiles
The Archive’s latest grand controls (controls in the mail for three or more years) include mailings by AAA (Archive code #525-182432-0804A), AARP (Archive code #571-171581-0804), American Cancer Society (Archive code #604-171602-0804D), Johns Hopkins Memory Bulletin (Archive code #250-694510-0804) and the Humane Society of the United States (Archive code #610-171869-0804A).
Two credit protection offers mailed by American Express to its customers also achieved Grand Control status in April. The first is an offer for Identity Protection, which capitalizes on the fear of the costs associated with identity theft. The letter breaks down the coverage features and also offers personal assistance from Amex if the worst happens. For a fee, the cardmember is enrolled in a plan, with protection for up to $15,000 in recovery costs. Strangely, the 4-1/2˝ x 9-1/4˝ envelope has no teaser (Archive code #545-172047-0804A).
The second offer, to American Express Blue cardmembers for the Account Protector Program, has been in the mail since at least December 2004. This 6˝ x 9˝ envelope teaser reads “INSIDE: Important protection for your Blue from American Express account.” The letter and insert promote the program as a smart and secure way to protect one’s account balance and credit standing from major life changes, such as unemployment, military deployment, marriage and divorce, among others. As with the Identity Protection mailing, the cost of the plan is presented as a small price to pay for peace of mind. Cardmembers even have a 30-day period to test the service at no cost (Archive code #545-172047-0804B).