M&S overhauls Sparks loyalty scheme to go digital-first

The retailer hopes the new scheme will offer a more personalised experience and feel “instantly rewarding”.

sparks loyalty scheme M&SMarks and Spencer is relaunching its Sparks loyalty scheme as an app-based digital first service after previously admitting the programme was “confusing”.

The new services introduces instant rewards for members. There will also be a wider choice of charities for scheme members to support. A new ‘Good things happen every time you shop’ message is being used to highlight the revised scheme, with a campaign planned for launch.

The retailer says the changes are based on direct feedback from more than a quarter of a million Sparks members. The new features have been “road tested and refined” by more than 40,000 M&S employees across the UK prior to the launch.

M&S is also reflecting the rapid shift online that customers have made over recent months during the Covid-19 lockdown with the relaunch. The company says more than 365,000 of its existing customers made their first online M&S orders during this period. There have been 700,000 downloads of the M&S app since March.

The revised Sparks scheme will ditch elements that members have said they find confusing, such as points and sale access tiers. Instead there will be instant rewards that deliver clearer – and immediate – value to customers.

M&S guarantees that one customer per week, in every UK store, will win their shopping for free via the app. There will also be giveaways that can be redeemed online or in-store, and a range of tailored treats such as packets of Percy Pig sweets or Apothecary candles for customers.

The popular charity element of Sparks, which sees M&S donate to a member-selected charity every time they shop, has been reviewed, with a further 25 charities added. The scheme now supports 35 causes in total. Nearly £7m has been donated via the scheme since 2015.

An updated M&S app will host the Sparks scheme. New members will be able to download their Sparks card to their phone or link it to their M&S online account. While physical cards will still be available, M&S says the most personalised experience will come from using digital touchpoints.

M&S launched Sparks in 2015 but has since admitted to issues with the scheme. CEO Steve Rowe has previously told Marketing Week the retailer had failed to use the data properly and it was too discount heavy.

M&S boss: We’ve got to fix confusing Sparks loyalty scheme

Chief digital and data officer Jeremy Pee was brought in in 2018 in part to overhaul the scheme.

“Sparks is a vital part of how we communicate with over 7 million of our most engaged M&S shoppers, and we have designed this relaunch around them,” says Pee.

“With a digital first approach, it’s simpler and easier to use but also builds our relationship with customers through a more personalised experience… It will feel instantly rewarding, and customers can be confident that good things will happen every time they shop with us.”

M&S has accelerated its programme to grow its digital business, pledging to learn lessons from consumer behaviour during the Covid-19 crisis. It describes the Sparks relaunch as an important part of its journey to become a data-driven business.

The new Sparks scheme will be activated on 9 July.

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