All over the place, there's a bunch of little good deals.
Mostly I ignored these for years - and I think it's smart to not go chasing little things at the expense of bigger things. If you've got some creative or business skills, there's almost certainly some better use of your time than cutting coupons.
Starting about a year ago, though, I became a much more serious student of marketing. I'd paid plenty of attention to marketing in the past, but 'round about a year ago, I started systematically paying attention to it.
Part of that was just interacting more with the world - including actually checking out the numbers on all sorts of offers, things I'd have normally ignored.
Some of them are pretty bad. A loyalty card where you buy-10-get-1-free isn't a very good deal. It's basically just a 10% discount, but worse because you might not get the discount, could forget or lose the card, means you've got to carry more junk in your wallet or bag, and so on. It can be an okay thing, maybe, if it doesn't change or inconvenience your spending habits - but that's why they create the things, so you do go to the inconvenience of going to their place more often and spending more there.
Sometimes though, deals are fantastic. A number of companies that know that the lifetime value of a customer is big for them will offer quite significant loss leaders to get you in there, and that's real. Sometimes you'll see a credit card that'll give you a $750 bonus for signing up if you've got great credit. (That's valuing their points at about one cent each, which is straightforward if 10,000 points = $100 statement credit and they're offering 75,000 for signing up)
Also, it's often possible to get an expensive high margin item for free regularly. I tend to work in cafes a lot and order a lot of coffee, so my annual coffee cost is kind of insane. But that number is drilled down a lot when there's something like this -
Pacific Coffee in Hong Kong has a member's card where you put like 200 HKD on it to start ($25 USD) on it to start, and then there's some promo each month. When I was in Hong Kong last, it was buy one drink, get one free. Okay cool, I usually get 2+ coffees and sometimes 4 when I work a lot of hours in a cafe, so that shaved a lot of money off my coffee bill. Starbucks has offered similar things in the past the in the USA.
The majority of little offers are junk and they're definitely not worth chasing around if you've got other skills. But if you're generally curious about retention and loyalty programs and customer acquisition in business anyways, it's both fascinating and about 1 time out of 10 you ask, what they're offering could be good.
Money doesn't care where it came from - if your annual coffee bill goes from $1200 to $600 for a few minutes of buying a Pacific Coffee card, then that's $600 more in your wallet at the end of the year for a few minutes of work. Not worth chasing after regularly, but useful if you're standing in line anyways to look at the brochures.
I have a background in marketing and I agree with you - most of the deals are pretty lousy, and frankly speaking unimaginative.
Great membership deals strengthen the customer relationship and make customers spend more money. In this case you don't probably buy more coffee during your stay in Hong Kong in general but you've become the regular at the Pacific Coffee and they'll get a bigger share of your coffee cup.
I wonder what they could sell you on the side, maybe have a vending machine for downloading audio books. :)
Thanks a lot for the info. As an alternative to coffee, I use yerba mate (it's very similar to green tea).
A lot of time I work in cafes. I don't see it as expensive coffee - I see it as cheap office space.
Sometimes I'm not thinking very well where I'm living or staying, so I change the scenery to do better work. I've gotten pretty good about not compulsively checking email, Hacker News, etc., but some days the 'net keeps calling me, and I head out to a cafe without internet. Sometimes I'm staying at a place without internet, and I had to a cafe to clear out my emails and do my business online.
Here in Hong Kong, I'm staying in a little hotel in Kowloon with internet, but I don't really dig the vibe of my room. It's too... clean, actually. Now, don't get me wrong, I like a clean room, but there's a faint air of soap and antiseptic and I see a cleaning woman mopping at least twice per day. Add that to my room being in the middle of the building with no window and I decide to head out to a Starbucks for some ambient noise, more light, and the smell of coffee.
At the cafe, there was a young girl playing. I'm not so good at telling age, but maybe 9 or 10 years old? She was of South Asian descent, maybe Indian, Pakistani, or Sri Lankan. Hard to tell an accent at that age, but sounded vaguely American. Maybe her English teacher or the international school she attends is run by an American? Or she's with her family on holiday from the States?
She was running and jumping around, dancing, while her parents were talking intently a little ways away. She kept talking to me, saying "Hello!" and looking at my computer and saying, "To - shi - ba!" She got a bunch of either straws or coffee-stirrers and was bending them into shapes, climbing onto chairs, and otherwise jumping around and having fun.
I've been meaning to write about the Platinum Card for a while, but somehow haven't gotten around to it. That stops today! The Black Card gets all the press, but the truth is that the Platinum Card has most of the benefits and costs far less.
But it does cost, so let's get that out of the way. The annual fee for carrying a Platinum Card is $450, which means that you shouldn't get it unless you're actually going to take advantage of the benefits. On the other hand, it's not just a gimmick; it has real benefits that can save you money and time.
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