every time i open my wallet i get this sick feeling, probably not uncommon to many people since opening your wallet is synonymous with dishing out hard earned cash, but the reason for my mounting nausea is the fact that i have, oh, 6 billion store cards confronting me every time i want to do something simple, like get change for a card guard or pull out that worn fortune cookie with the lotto numbers on it.
the nausea reached fever pitch over the holidays, when i was doing a large amount of opening my wallet, and something inside me snapped. as a kind of consumer extraordinaire (truly, i sign up for everything i lay my eyes on partly because it’s my job and party because i’m curious that these brands may have something meaningful to offer me) i am exposed to vast amounts of brand propaganda, most of which i can say (with good authority) is a load of gunk. and i just kind of had enough.
even though there are benefits to buying with a store / loyalty card over cash, i can’t help but feel i’m being duped every single time, especially since i’m not really into buying when i can’t afford stuff (one of the perks of not being a ‘Black Diamond’, whatever that is anyway), which is precisely what a store card is designed to do. so i emptied my wallet onto the kitchen counter and stared at my plastic fairweather friends for a good long time before i decided to act on Oprah’s advice and ‘cut the bad people out of my life’.
as more and more marketers realise that niching is the way to go in terms of communication, store cards are one area where i just don’t think it works, because you take for granted the fact that the consumer actually wants to remember what benefit you’re delivering. while staring at the cards i’d accumulated, i couldn’t think of a single benefit meaningful enough to stop me cutting up the cards.
discount movies? i don’t watch enough movies at the cinema to care. my movies come to me through the internet, through friends, through registered mail from the UK since i can’t be bothered to wait a whole year to watch what i want to watch.
the ability to return goods for cash? okay this one works. the woolworths card made it out whole.
points that contribute to flights? um, no thanks. i don’t desperately need to fly anywhere. plus you have to use this particular card as your everyday card in order for this to truly pay off. plus there’s a limit to how many points you can earn anyway, so that card got the chop.
being able to buy fast moving consumer goods (ie. crap) at particular stores on credit? i already have a credit card, a bank based one, which is admin enough to manage anyway so you’ll forgive me for seeing superfluous credit the same way i see men who flirt with you while you’re in a relationship, ie. it’s fun but essentially useless and a waste of time. oooh, 6 months interest free? okay, that’s a bonus. but again, if it’s taking me 6 months to pay off any kind of credit i’d say it’s time to think about your life, because unless you’re paying off some kind of emergency, you’re probably living in denial.
my exclusive books fanatics card made it through, because i buy on average 6 books a month and always get some sort of decent return. my vide e loyalty card got scrapped though, since i spend enough money there to have shares in the company and in my entire 2 years of having the card i have quite possibly only ever received one free coffee. and as for my levi’s card…i’ve just got some old post and it seems the card scheme closed in September 07. guess it didn’t really take off.
anyway, after having made a flower sculpture out of all the excess cards, i strolled into kenilworth medi clinic for a routine doctor’s appointment and saw this:
paying your medical bills with a shoe store card? talk about an incentive. big up to Edcon, who realise that if there’s one thing their consumers are likely to need on credit it’s medicine, since 2 out of every 3 people in this country is HIV positive.