One word consisting of two letters that expresses an attitude towards life? Austrians know just what we are talking about: “jö” is a word that people in the country use when they are positively surprised about something. When they are happy that something went unexpectedly well. Two letters – and everybody is in the know. Beginning last May, the word “jö” has been the name and leitmotiv of a brand in Austria. REWE Group incorporated the word into the name of a cross-retailer and cross-industry multi-partner programme – the jö Bonus Club. By using a customer card, the jö Card (or the jö App), already more than 3.8 million club members can collect bonus points when they shop in a range of stores – and cash them in for all sorts of benefits at participating partners. A customer club by Austrians for Austrians, with a focus on the needs and habits of people between Vorarlberg and Burgenland. It is not some frequently copied international concept that is now being tried in Austria, but a tailored approach. Fittingly, the club’s bonus points have their very own name that typifies the country: “Ös”.
Consumers in Vienna, Salzburg, Graz or other parts of the country are often influenced strongly by sales promotion campaigns. And they love to collect bonus points. The result: Austria is by tradition a country of customer cards. About 14 such customer cards for different stores are found on average in the wallets and pocketbooks of consumers in the country. It is not always easy for the users to keep track of them all. The discount systems, campaigns and programme techniques usually vary significantly from card provider to card provider. “The jö Card is a simple, practical solution that we have developed to really make the daily lives of customers easier,” say Ulrike Kittinger and Mario Günther Rauch, the Managing Directors of the jö Bonus Club.
Fill up the car at OMV on the way to work in the morning, pick up a few things at BILLA or PENNY during lunch break, buy some beauty products at BIPA a little later in the day – and use the same customer card each time and collect bonus points in the process: The jö Card is intended to be a valuable companion who helps consumers throughout the day. And it is doing so more and more frequently. Just one year after the programme was launched, in absolute terms, every Austrian household now has a jö Card – and the card is being used. On an average shopping day, jö members will flash the gold rectangular piece of plastic with the two striking letters about 800,000 times. The total climbs past 1 million on some Saturdays. Consumers use the card in shops, at the petrol station or during financial transactions. And why not? BAWAG P.S.K., one of Austria’s leading banks, is a programme partner, too. More than two-thirds of revenue that companies of REWE Group generate are done using the jö Card.
A bonus club for Austria
“Our main goal was to develop the jö Bonus Club in and for Austria and to design the mechanics of the programme exactly to meet the needs of domestic consumers,” Ulrike Kittinger says. Fifteen companies that have a total of about 3,500 stores or locations are part of the programme. Other partners from new industries with large networks of branches will also join the programme this year. With this continuous expansion, the jö Bonus Club is creating further added value for its members while also strengthening retail in Austria.
Ulrike Kittinger, Managing Director of Unser Ö-Bonus Club GmbH“Our main goal was to develop the jö Bonus Club in and for Austria and to design the mechanics of the programme exactly to meet the needs of domestic consumers.”
Easily collecting bonus points or checking the balance at any time by using the jö App or the receipt of a partner company: That’s just one feature. But membership in the jö Bonus Club really begins to pay off for card users when they take advantage of the many opportunities they have to cash in their Ös points at all partners. By doing such things as turning them into a discount. Paying less with Ös. The bonus points collected at all partners can also be cashed in for a one-time discount in the following month. Or customers can profit from exclusive jö partner campaigns and vouchers that are sent to them.
But it does not always have to be discounts or special products. Some customers want to be rewarded with experiences and are interested in receiving discounts for leisure-time activities. Things like a cruise on the Danube from Vienna to Budapest, a concert or one of more than 100 other events. The club is uncovering more and more member wishes for its “jö Bonuswelt” (jö Bonus World) and comes up with the right experience to fulfil them. “Assuming social responsibility is a major concern of many customers as well,” Mario Günther Rauch says. “This is why the jö Bonus Club also offers the opportunity to donate money to such organisations as the Catholic charity Caritas or the Austrian Red Cross.” The more than 7 million Ös donated up to now show just how tailored the programme is to the wishes of many people.
Market research has found that many customers are interested in receiving relevant information and offerings that are designed with their personal interests in mind. The partners of the jö Bonus Club can draw on the data generated by card users and create customised offerings. The aim does not always have to be revenue generation either. Brand recognition and frequency can be important as well. Sometimes, a company would like to make people aware about a new location in a particular area. To achieve this goal, it may be helpful to send a special offer to jö cardholders who live in a radius of 10 kilometres around the location. No participant in the multi-partner programme has to worry about being turned into a transparent consumer. “Our partners see only their own customer data,” Ulrike Kittinger says. “The companies do not communicate with one another.” It is just the way it was for Austrians who had the cards of up to 15 companies in their wallets and pocketbooks up until a year ago. They now have one card, the jö Card, that is tailored to their needs and provides them with maximum selection freedom.