Not The Target Market

Stalking Your Customers

Recent CVS mailer (with black black blobs blocking personal info.)

You would think that a large corporation like CVS with, one assumes, a fair amount of resources and money to spend on advertising, could find someone who actually knows how to use variable data intelligently.

Instead they hire someone who sends out this.

This mailer does nothing except to remind me how much information a loyalty card gives a store. My first reaction is that I’m being stalked and that I should stop shopping at CVS altogether. My second is that if I must shop there, I will not use the card. Probably not the results they were hoping for.

Received wisdom in the marketing world is that generic “spray and pray” mailers addressed to “occupant” are no longer enough. Instead, for any hope of success, companies need to use the data they have on their customers and send them targeted mailings. That’s all true. But just throwing up random, pointless data on a mailer, even if it is personalized, is exactly like spray and pray – except that it’s more expensive to produce.

What is the point of numbering all my (well, The Hunter’s, really) visits to CVS and telling me about all my missed coupons? Why do I need to be told which my most visited store is? If I shop there the most, it’s probably because it’s the most convenient, and I already know that. Why tell me about my savings – especially when they’re not all that remarkable? And furthermore, if I haven’t used 25 out of 26 coupons, why does anyone think I will use this one? There is nothing about this mailer to get my attention and send me rushing into the store, other than the coupon, which they already know I don’t use. There is not even a call to action (other than an indirect one with the coupon.)

How about making the coupon a minimum of 20% off, but stating that it could be as much as 50% (or some other amount higher than 20%) – and that I won’t know until I use it. Or cover up the amount with a scratch off label.  Research shows that if you can get the recipient to interact with the mail piece, they are more likely to keep it and act on it.  Make sure that those of us who haven’t been using CVS coupons regularly get a good discount. That might do something. Or if you want me to shop more frequently, make the coupon good for multiple visits in the coming months. Or perhaps someone should look at what I’ve bought when I’ve used the card, and make me an offer based on that history.

Instead, I get a mailing that has no point and is months behind in current data: if you look at the date, it says the info is from 11/1/16 – 10/30/17. We received it the third week in January 2018. But I’m willing to bet that whoever came up with the mailing idea was pretty proud of using variable data. I would love to see the ROI on this campaign – if anyone even thought to track it. My first bit of advice to CVS is to ask for a discount from this ad agency.

My second bit of advice is not just to CVS, but also to everyone who uses customer data: It is far better to keep all your customer data behind the scenes. Use it by all means, but use it to make me an offer based on my particular habits. And then track the results – see if I take you up on it. If not, tweak your next offer.  In other words, use your data to (try to) shape my behavior, but don’t remind me you know my habits – in detail. That’s just creepy.

1 Comment

  1. Your Brother

    Well said and well sad!! I wish I knew a marketing Poobah at CVS – I would forward your blog post to him or her. The person who conceived this campaign can now say he or she has run a complex, variable data, B2C marketing campaign for a national company. Unfortunately – it just wasn’t a very good complex, variable data, B2C, marketing campaign.


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