The concept of a loyalty card in the retail world isn't new; customers patronize a store, the store rewards them, and the customers want to return. But Gwilym Davies discovered that doing the opposite — encouraging his customers to visit his competitors — might be even more rewarding.
Davies, the 2009 World Barista Champion and owner of London-based Prufrock Coffee, caused a flurry of excitement in the coffee-shop world with his disloyalty card. The card lists eight of Davies's favorite coffee haunts, and when a customer racks up stamps from all eight, Davies treats the cardholder to a free coffee from his own coffeehouse.
The scheme has been remarkably successful. The card promotes business within the local market and fosters a spirit of goodwill toward Davies and his business. It also helps keep standards high; when businesses know they will be directly compared to their competitors, they are motivated to maintain or raise their game. And the customer also wins, not just by receiving a freebie, but by discovering new businesses they otherwise may not have visited or even known about.
Similar cards have popped up in Seattle and Toronto to positive reviews; maybe the idea will be spotted next in bakeries.