So wine, the nectar of the gods, is a revered and highly valued product in the Johnson household. My wife has imbued to (in) me the value and unique attributes a red vintage has on the soul and enhanced introspection that comes from imbibing said vintage. Or, it COULD be due to the fact that I have four kids and the red harvest takes the edge off; no wait back to the piece. As part of the move, we are selling our old wine fridge with the old house so that meant “a new one.” Well, I ended up finding a good deal online with a NOT to be named merchant who was beneficent enough to include a “COUPON” for $60 off my next purchase at a not to be named purveyor of wines. Again, knowing how much my wife and I like wine, the coupon piqued my interest. Also, having purchased a wine fridge you would think that the partner for this program would be one that could create a value in the initial offer (trial) that would have given me incentive to try these vintages by local vintners.

But HOLD on, or should I say I should have read all that fine print (reminds me when I signed up for that office goods program or when I didn’t sign up) courtesy of that online “loyalty” offering. Never mind that the company is no longer around and maybe I would not have been as miffed as I was. Needless to say, when I tried to redeem the $60 coupon I found out that it was not really a coupon (obfuscation of some sort) but a “discount” of some sort. I was willing to try it out, but when the $60 coupon redeemed against the most inexpensive bottle of wine still left me with $80 or some greater number to pay, I did not partake in the offer. After a discussion with them back and forth, I was told that they “cannot really” offer discounts on alcohol, as it is illegal.  What? You sent me a $60 off coupon… the discourse with the merchant went back and forth and, needless to say, I DID not purchase from them and will never do so.

They lost a customer who they could have with the right offer to engage -- (“Mr. Johnson, we are going to give you the best prices on this wine and FREE SHIPPING on this order if you want to try it). Or by asking a couple of questions to help tailor/refine the offer (“Oh so you like Oregon and St. Lucia Highland Pinot Noirs … then you should try “x”). Given solid communication (it is illegal to offer discounts on alcohol), exceptional service (free shipping back), and exceptional service on that first visit (where there is no brand equity), the merchant could have created a customer for life as our family loves wine.

 But, THAT did not happen. The complexity of the offer and the page of “fine” print should have been a warning, yet I am curious how many people actually take the offer. 

Written By:  Mark Johnson, CEO, Loyalty 360 - The Loyalty Marketer's Association

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