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Supermarket Schools Vouchers: Are They Worth It?

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 26 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Supermarket Schools Vouchers Schemes

Many well known high street supermarkets in the UK promote different forms of supermarket schools vouchers. Similar to loyalty schemes, the supermarket schools vouchers do have certain obvious and sometimes not so obvious flaws.

How Supermarket Schools Vouchers Work

Supermarket schools vouchers stick closely to the principals of the loyalty reward schemes. Taking Tesco as an example, a customer will be rewarded with a voucher every time they spend an amount of money. A £10 spend in the supermarket will equal one voucher. This voucher can then be given to clubs or schools to be exchanged for ‘free’ equipment for the schools. All schools in the UK are eligible for the supermarket vouchers schemes including nurseries and amateur clubs.

Are the Supermarket Schools Vouchers a Good Deal?

The actual monetary value of the schools vouchers is extremely low; one voucher is worth 0.001p. This would mean that 99,990 vouchers would be required to buy a £3,000 trampoline. One supermarket claims to have raised £11.6 million in one year for schools. But the items raised through the vouchers seem to be at the low end of the scale. Schools are tending to go for equipment such as footballs or bats as opposed to the more expensive equipment.

The Real Cost Behind the Supermarket Schools Vouchers

The amount required to be spent in order to buy schools equipment using the vouchers can be a shock. To buy a £16 football using the supermarket vouchers a parent or group of customers would actually have to spend £3,584. One tennis racket costing £22 will mean spending a hefty £2803 on shopping. A very inexpensive £11 rugby ball will mean a shopping trip worth £2440. The true value behind the supermarket schools vouchers shows that the ‘free’ equipment is not exactly free.

The Benefit of Schools Vouchers to Supermarkets

There are a few major benefits to the supermarkets that run the schools vouchers schemes. The basic promotion idea is ‘something for nothing’ from the supermarkets, similar to that of loyalty schemes. In reality the supermarkets have hit on an excellent advertising scheme with parents and children being the target audience. The supermarket schools vouchers are basically encouraging children and parents to stay loyal to one store in order to collect the vouchers.

Controversy over the Supermarkets Schools Vouchers

Businesses never give anything away for free and it will certainly take a lot of vouchers to even afford a football. Many critics have branded the supermarket schools vouchers schemes a manipulative ploy to ensure customer loyalty. Advertising of the schemes in the schools by use of posters is effectively branding the school. Teachers are encouraged to inform parents of the school vouchers scheme on supermarket headed paper given for free to the schools. Many organisations have named this type of business practice as the commercial pollution of schools.

Business Tactics to Ensure Customer Loyalty

The supermarket schools voucher schemes do use methods, subtle or otherwise, to ensure customer loyalty. These methods include;

  • Setting a time limit on the scheme to ensure customers collect more vouchers within a short space of time
  • Community involvement; encouraging the community to ‘come together’ to collect the schools vouchers
  • Gaining free publicity from local newspapers to get the word out about the school vouchers schemes
  • Encouraging more spending with special offers on certain products that will provide extra vouchers
  • Mass branding of schools with in-school promotions, posters and letterheads
  • Children who focus on the schemes as an activity will harass their parents into collecting the vouchers
  • The low value of the vouchers does mean that more must be spent by customers to make the scheme worthwhile
  • Bringing in celebrities to endorse and advertise the schools vouchers schemes
It will be up to the customers/parents to decide whether or not the schools vouchers are worth the effort, and the money. The schemes obviously make good business sense for the supermarkets as they are used worldwide. The value of ‘pester power’ where kids pester their parents to collect the vouchers is a winner for supermarkets. The value to the retail industry of advertising to children can also be seen as obtaining customer loyalty from a young age. As the marketing slogan goes ‘get them while they’re young and you have them for life’.

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