Loyalty Programs: Savings & Benefits
This page contains some of my own experiences and opinions; if you're considering joining a loyalty program you should check the details first and make sure it's the right choice for you!
As mentioned on the Finnish Retailers page, just 2 large groups operate a substantial part of the Finnish retail sector. Most shops on that page are operated by or operating in cooperation with either the Kesko Corporation, a listed company which develops, owns and manages its stores, or S-Group, which is a cooperative.
Kesko and S-Group provide a staggering array of products and services, including department stores, supermarkets, hardware & home improvements, furniture, interior decoration, electronics & appliances, shoes, sports, hotels, spas, restaurants, service stations, car & motorcycle dealerships, amusement parks, boat sales... puff, puff... magazine subscriptions, car rentals, films, electricity, insurance, mobile telephone services, dentists, pharmacies, funeral services, travel... puff... tractor sales, agricultural equipment! The list goes on. It's not only Finnish brands, either; the American car rental company Hertz, for example, operates in partnership with S-Group.
The point is that these groups operate in so many fields, you'll surely be spending a fair share of your money at their shops and outlets.
Each group offers a loyalty program, or 'customer reward system'; Kesko has K-Plussa and S-Group has S-Etukortti. Most Finns are members of both. Researching this page I saw a few estimates by people who were wondering for themselves if the systems really save money; they calculated they were saving €300-€450 per year. For myself, living alone with no car, I estimate I'm saving about €200-€250 per year. It would be a lot more if I had to buy petrol.
Each system offers various services and benefits, which you can see if you visit the sites listed below. Depending on your spending habits, being a cardholder can be very beneficial in terms of savings. Even at the most basic level, using a Plussa-kortti at the supermarket for a few groceries each week will save you a packet each year because being a cardholder entitles you to buy the products on special at the discount price, whereas non-cardholders must pay the regular price. I often buy my 'regular' products without realising they're on sale, then swipe my card at the checkout and BING! €4 off.
Additionally, I receive vouchers through the mail occasionally which I can use like cash in the supermarket and participating stores. It's not just supermarkets; the Plussa card for example works in some department stores, so if you buy a TV or something substantial there the value of the vouchers next time is substantial too. You'll save your joining fee in no time! There are other benefits to membership, such as special offers at certain restaurants and hotels.
94% of Finns participate in loyalty programs; this was the highest rate in the world in a global survey conducted by Nielsen "Get With The Program, November 2016"
If you know Finns at all, you know they wouldn't bother if there wasn't a point to it!
Each system can be joined online or at a participating store or office.
- K-Plussa: Joining fee €8.40 (but occasionally offered free) plussa.fi
- S-Etukortti: Joining makes you a 'customer owner' in the cooperative; you must pay a participation share to join, which is refundable if you ever give up your membership. www.s-kanava.fi
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