Trust is Like Virginity, You Can Only Lose It Once…


Cormac Tobin, ex Superquinn board manager and current managing director at Unicare Pharmacies/Doc Morris in Ireland guided delegates at the REI retail retreat through the fascinating background, philosophy, successes & failures of their new loyalty programme.

Key points as follows;

  • Other loyalty programmes (Tesco & Dunnes) cost 0.5-1% of sales. This was too expensive. Unicare wanted something cheaper
  • 20% of customers leave, not because of what the competition does right but because of what we do wrong
  • Value for money is key –poor people need it and rich people love it (Instore signage supports this, posters saying “Allergic to paying over the odds?”)
  • Focus on solution selling, ie solutions for eyes, solutions for lips, solutions for hearts (Instore signage supports this with big drawings of body part with various problems and solutions listed)
  • Investment in colleagues, through training and incentives
  • Loyalty programme focused not on the customer being loyal to the business but on the business being loyal to the customer. Customers are loyal to themselves

Innovations included;

  • O2 perks style surprise treats for customers
  • Email receipts to customers
  • Regular promotional offers sent to customer

Instore customer profiling

  • Found that their average customer was Female, 50+, visiting for prescription or disease management related issues, mothers.


  • When financial department tried to make the vouchers more profitable for the company redemption rates fell. It is most important to be clear on your objectives for the loyalty programme (theirs was to increase cross selling to 18%) and not be swayed by other motivations
  • Dialogue with consumer must be consistent and relevant or the customer switches off
  • Tone of voice to be chatty and relaxed High value perks a necessity (when customers had to spend more to get the perk, redemption rates fell. Highest redemption rates were 47%, lowest were 0.8%)
  • No club card as customers already have enough of these
  • Customers wanted more informative relevant mailings

Investment & payback

  • Cost 0.3% of sales Sales increased by 0.65%
  • Increase in brand recognition
  • Above industry redemption rates
  • Customer satisfaction
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