Tuesday, 31 March 2015

All Change for the LEGO VIP Program?

Having some sort of VIP reward scheme is better than not having one. That’s pretty much a given, and most LEGO fans shopping through LEGO directly would agree. But it isn’t perfect, most will also agree. It turns out that LEGO are looking to make improvements, as they have recently been soliciting opinion to shape the future of the VIP Program.

The LEGO VIP Program allows fans to earn points when they buy LEGO direct from the Shop at Home website or LEGO Stores. Once 100 points are accumulated (which is the equivalent to spending £100), VIP members get a £5.00 reward to use against a future purchase. Essentially, it’s a 5% discount. Clearly this isn’t the best shopping option when other stores offer greater discounts without requiring shoppers to belong to a rewards scheme.

Other rewards are connected to the scheme too, but the money off is the most meaningful one. The other benefits are marginal, such as selected sets being available ‘exclusively’ to VIPs for a select period of time. As anyone can sign up for free, it’s not really much of a reward. Never mind the fact that anyone willing to wait a week or two can purchase without becoming a member.

It seems LEGO are looking to improve the service, however, recently sending out a survey that asked fans how much they spend on LEGO each year, how often they buy from a LEGO store and more data-gathering questions. More interestingly, they also asked about what elements of the service fans like the most.

One option to select was “Emails that give me advance notice on products that will be retired”, which seems to be more valuable than any early purchase period. At some point every LEGO fan will experience the frustration of realising a set has quietly retired and they have realised it too late. Getting an e-mail a couple of months before would allow fans to pull the trigger on a purchase and avoid disappointment. There is the risk that resellers could abuse the intel and the last copies disappear even quicker, but then again the reseller risk exists with any information sharing.

Hopefully there were not many positive responses to the question on how popular “Free and/or discounted admission to LEGOLAND parks” are. Free admission would be great, but since discounted admission vouchers are available from numerous sources all year round, discounted admission would not be a valuable benefit. 

The survey also asked which VIP events fans have attended – and included May 4th and Monthly Mini-Build in the list, even though both are open to all consumers. If exclusive products or discounts were available fans are likely to attend events, but labelling them as VIP when in fact anyone can enjoy the discount is misleading. The Pre-Black Friday VIP advantage is of course useful, but for this to really work the stock control will need to improve from last year.

Perhaps the most promising question was whether VIP members would prefer £5.00 worth of VIP points off a future purchase, or £4.00 off the current purchase. Depending what the similarity in discount is intended to be, the fact that LEGO are considering an upfront discount instead of points accumulation could be a step in the right direction. Although it would take away the satisfying feeling of accumulating many points and then buying a big ticket item with them.

A few years ago the VIP Program changed when points could be collected online and in store, rather than just stamps in store. This came with positives and drawbacks, and in all likelihood any further change will do the same. Thankfully LEGO are seeking the views of fans before these changes get under away.

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