Saturday, July 27, 2013

Guest Post from Savannah Scorpion: Do I Need This? Customer Loyalty Programs

The enigmatic and magnanimous Savannah Scorpion is back with more of the insider scoop on how to buy beauty products without throwing your fucking money away. As always, comment below or email with any questions or future topics you'd like her to address! 

Hello again!

This is Savannah Scorpion, your friendly neighborhood seller of Expensive Cosmetic Shit, back with another post. 

I was invited to send a picture, and I chose a film still from Butterfield 8. While I do not look like Elizabeth Taylor, I have been tempted to write rather nasty things in lipstick on men's mirrors/car windshields. The only thing that has stopped me is that most of the lippies in my collection are pricey, and I'll be damned if I waste one of my $25 Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils on damaging the property of some hipster douchebag. I think I'm going to buy one of the $1 e.l.f lipsticks and designate that as my official "Writing On Glass Surfaces" lipstick. [I should add that to my review as a possible use. - Ed.]


I'm sure y'all have been offered to sign up for different loyalty programs at different restaurants and grocery stores. Cosmetics retailers have loyalty programs, and I'll give you the rundown on how they work. Do you need them? Yes. Even if you don't buy cosmetics all that much. 
The two main ones are Sephora's Beauty Insider program and Ulta's ULTAmate Rewards program. These programs are pretty similar: You sign up online or in the store, you get a scannable card, and every time you shop with your rewards card, you get points. One dollar spent roughly equals 1 point. Think of them like a Kroger card for beauty shit. 

With Sephora's Beauty Insider card, you collect points, and then can redeem them for deluxe samples of products at 100 points or a larger set of deluxe samples at 500 points. You'll also have access to exclusive discounts.  

With ULTAmate Rewards, you'll get a weekly mailer with a $3.50 off a purchase of $10 or more coupon (only good on mass cosmetics, skincare and haircare), and the points you collect can be redeemed for special discounts, once you collect 100 points. Ulta will also send periodic coupons for special discounts and deals throughout the year. Ulta just loooooves killing trees.

Sephora gives birthday gifts to Beauty Insiders (I got 2 mini Fresh lip balms). Ulta gives you double points on purchases made during your birthday month.

And, if you spend A LOT OF money, you get even more rewards. If you spend $350 or more at Sephora in a year, you become a Very Important Beauty Insider, and you get a 10% off discount off one order, 1 free shipping code for an online order, access to even more free deluxe samples, a free makeup application, and first dibs on new product launches. With ULTAmate Rewards, your membership is "upgraded" once you spend more than $350. You'll get more discounts, and a free service at Ulta's salon. 

BareMinerals stores has a similar program called Friends And Benefits. You get a card, a free birthday gift, can designate a day to get 15% off your purchase, $10 off a purchase of 150 or more, and access to exclusive events at Bare Minerals stores. 

The concept is that if you get incentives for everything you purchase, you'll be more likely to return to the store and spend more. And thus, the store will make more money. Also, since all these programs also offer "exclusive" offers to loyalty card members, you'll get to feel all fancy and special and shit. 

Keep in mind that while these programs offer discounts and special deals, they will not come near the special deals that employees of these stores receive. 

Now, what if you aren't a frequent buyer of cosmetics and are just running to get a mascara or some blotting papers? Should you still sign up when the cashier asks you "Do you have your [store name] rewards card?"


You see, the shift, general, and district managers are constantly up our ass about getting people to sign up for our rewards program. And the number of people we get to sign up is recorded. Frequently, we have targeted goals ("Savannah, we want you to get 10 people to sign up today"), and the number of hours we get and any raises/promotions are tied to how many people we get to sign up. And when we don't get a bunch of signups, we get CHEWED THE FUCK OUT. 

So, sign up. It takes 5 minutes at the most. It's painless. If you don't shop for makeup much, give the card to someone who does, and we can edit their information. 

And no, we're not trying to steal your identity. Jeezus.

Thanks again, Savannah. This is super-helpful. If you're worried about spam or something, I recommend making a dedicated email account to sign up for things. Then you can only check it when you're in the mood to browse marketing emails - or not at all. Also, I hadn't thought about your last point. Having been a retail drone myself in the past, I try to do what I can to avoid making customer service people's lives more difficult while also personally making as little effort as possible. Why not? Everyone wins. Signing up for these things totally fits that description. I feel shitty for the sales associates who are forced to push reward programs that you have to pay for or credit cards, though, because sorry, I just can't.

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