I spent some time writing about Discovery Vitality, Discovery Bank, and all the rest of it (Health, Driving, Exercise etc) in some former posts, which should all show on the loyalty section of my site. But it occured to me in that basic maths experiment (is Vitality worth it or not), that why is Woolworths Loyalty so non-existent?

Of course, you will immediately say: they certainly have a loyalty program; it’s named the Woolies Rewards. But, as a budding consultant who wants to be South Africa’s leading expert on loyalty, I figure I can chuck it out there with confidence: a) I don’t think they have made much effort at all OR, b) purposefully leave it as a very simple, pedestrian part of their business strategy.

Loyalty Context:

My biggest three expenses in the month are

  • First, paying off the home loan. 18 years to go. Worth it. Home will go up in value. And we enjoy it while it’s here.
  • Second, Woolworths Food. Sometimes this is in third, more often than not, it’s in second place.
  • Third, Discovery’s bouquet of services. Namely, Medical insurance, Life insurance, Car insurance, Home insurance, & Vitality. So kind of 3-4 services, but I see it as one bill per month – and at very least it’s going to one business or brand.

Now the alarming thing is I know I can get R2,000-3,000 back from Discovery per month, with very little effort, and up to maybe R4,000-5,000/m with a lot.


Practically nothing! If not actually: nothing. Zero. Not even a free coffee on your birthday, it’s so bad.

They have “Savings” where maybe an R80 item sells for R70 and it’s a giant, red “SAVE R10” sticker, with a miniscule, squint-your-eyes-and-damage-them black and white price tag on it. But we all know how these things work, and it’s not really a saving, it’s just messing with prices all the time, and you notice when they come down (a saving) but not when they go up. They never put a green sticker/large FONT sign saying “We just upped this by 20%, or R10” do they?

In fact, that makes me think they have their colours back to front: positive news (savings) should be yellow, green or blue. Red is mostly negative, associated with danger, blood, warnings, stop etc etc. Very silly. Not sure who thought of that, but it’s a poor call.

Then, to be fair they have this thing in the app where if you spend R30,000 in a financial year (theirs, I might add) you qualify for VIP status, which I have never seen play out, even though I’ve done it for at least three years.

As I write this today, I went to double check my facts on the app, and can see that I am entitled to this VIP status, and its benefits, and know I haven’t received any except the “10% Birthday voucher”, which actually didn’t work (the site wouldnt accept the voucher code). I apparently also get exclusive invites to events (none yet) and offers (none, unless they mean ones like emails about sales) so those are two dead ends.

Anyway, the point isn’t really to bash the app or their strategy, it’s more to stand back and think “Wow, for a business that gets a huge chunk of my monthly spend, they really don’t make much effort to say thanks, or keep me engaged, or away from competitors”. Perhaps they are so convinced of their appeal or product they don’t need to, which is 100% fine. I don’t offer discounts, yet I am not in retail. And juxtaposed with how Discovery rewards me, it is really pitiful.

Closing Thoughts?

I’d love to know what WW head office thinks, and members of the public too – from occasional shoppers, to devout Woolies fans. I do think there is a lot of scope for them to do something quite literally world-class, and wow all their current shoppers, and perhaps bring in another 10% of their rivals’ customers. The evidence is out there, tonnes of case studies and research has been done, so the question is: when will Woolworths begin and maintain a brilliant loyalty scheme. They’re certainly falling to Checkers in some departments, and though Pick n Pay and Spar are going backwards, that won’t be for long, and so if they don’t find avenues for improvement then I wonder if they can maintain their market lead.