saved since 2000
"We are happy to be part of everyday life in Germany”
PAYBACK celebrates its 20th anniversary. Managing Director Bernhard Brugger about the value added by the bonus programme and the future of collecting points.
Mr Brugger, how did the idea of collecting points come about?
PAYBACK was launched in March 2000 with a grand vision in a small office in Munich: customers shopping with just one loyalty card should get rewards from not just one, but many different companies at the same time, and so be able to save money faster. After just one month, there were already one million customers in Germany collecting points with PAYBACK.
How did the company develop after that?
A three-man business now has some 1,000 employees. PAYBACK is present in eleven countries around the world, including Austria, Italy, Poland, Mexico and even India. We have developed from a discount scheme into a benefits programme that sends customers the right offers offline, online and mobile. Our more than 31 million customers in Germany are also using PAYBACK more and more via the app. It offers the full package: mobile card, coupons and a payment function.
Is that one reason for the success of PAYBACK, that there is always something new?
It is very important to keep improving it. But I think what makes PAYBACK really special is our more than 680 partners. And whether they are shopping face-to-face or online, customers can now collect points for almost all their shopping and take advantage of plenty of other offers. The success of PAYBACK is down to the fact that people appreciate the added value. A household can very easily save between €200 and €300 a year with PAYBACK. In 20 years of PAYBACK, customers have saved €3.5 billion!
What is the best way for customers to collect lots of point?
By using as many coupons as possible and taking advantage of the promotions. Everyone who has signed up for the newsletter is kept informed about special offers, and anyone who has the PAYBACK app can’t forget their card at home. With PAYBACK GO, a service within the app, extra offers and points coupons are now also sent directly to their mobile phone when customers are in the vicinity of a partner. And even more points are available on top if you use one of our credit cards.
Kaufhof has left the programme and dm has halved the number of points it awards; does that make it harder for customers to collect points?
PAYBACK was, is and will remain attractive; with 680 partners in the programme we make sure it does. They ensure that the points barrel keeps getting fuller – the annual volume of points has gone up by a factor of five in the past 20 years. In 2019 customers collected points worth €450 million, which was another new record. Now we are aiming for the half billion mark. In fact, dm will be awarding more points than ever before, but targeting them more precisely.
What opportunities does PAYBACK offer for redeeming the points?
The most popular way is to spend them directly in the shops, by deducting the value of the points from the bill at the check-out. So if the customer has 2,000 points that means they have to pay €20 less at the check-out. But it is also possible to spend them on attractive rewards, or the points can be donated to a good cause. I like to support the “Lichtblick Hasenbergl” project here in Munich, for instance.
They have collected more than €5 million so far from donations of points. What did they use the money for?
We set up the PAYBACK World of Donations ten years ago. It lets people support aid projects in a very transparent way. Customers decide themselves which of the 100 projects they want to sponsor and how many points to donate. And 100 per cent of the donation always goes to the aid organisation.
What do you say to critics who have a problem with data protection?
Data protection is an important subject that everyone has to face up to nowadays. At PAYBACK we give the utmost priority to data protection and data security. It goes without saying that we do not sell data, nor do we share data with other partners in the programme. Customers decide what happens with their data; they give us their consent or they don’t. What is also very important is the TÜV data protection audit and the annual recertification.
You have been with PAYBACK since the beginning and have been managing director for more than ten years. What are the greatest successes for you personally?
Every time customers collect points from our partners is a success for me. And they do that about 5 million times a day. In these fast-moving times we are delighted about all the customers who stay loyal to us and the partners. We are delighted about every single PAYBACK customer!
PAYBACK is going to celebrate its anniversary throughout the year with customers and partners – and there will be great YIPPEE promotions and birthday points to collect, as well as very special rewards in the PAYBACK shop. And: It will be worthwhile checking the PAYBACK app, especially on the 20th of each month: this is YIPPEE Day, with super coupons and surprise points. more