Friday, 18 May 2012

How much are Flybuys worth?

by Rob d'Apice
About a year ago, we wrote a story about how FlyBuys Rewards will earn about roughly $4 a year in rewards. It would take 56 years to earn a return flight from Sydney to Brisbane. This author would be claiming that flight well beyond his life expectancy, when the attraction of Wet & Wild or Surfers Paradise would be well beyond the capabilities of his brittle bones.

This year, Coles have revealed their revamped Flybuys program, apparently responding to their customers' cries for something worthwhile. Then they got Dawn French to salivate over that young male Coles ambassador, while he grins awkwardly at the camera. I don't know about you, but that certainly gets me in the mood to save on my shopping!

So does the new program check out? Is it 'Simpler and More Rewarding'? Our short answer: we think the program is possibly more complex, and the program is only marginally more rewarding than before.

More rewarding?

The key component of the new program is the increase in point earning rate for your shopping at Coles or Bi Lo, from 0.4 points per dollar spent to 1 point per dollar spent. The problem? They've halved the value of each FlyBuy point, so the net change in value to you is very small.

A year ago, you could redeem 22,500 points for a $225 flight, which equated to a value of about 1.0 cent of rewards per point. Now, while flight redemption is now easier since it is linked to the Webjet search engine, each point is worth exactly 0.5 cents. Half of what they were worth previously.

This means the huge increase in point earning rate is almost fully offset by the devaluation of points. It's no doubt confusing for consumers; people that are used to a particular flybuy point valuation may not realise points are now worth half what they used to be worth.

Don't believe us? Check out Coles' own Flybuys calculator, and remember to divide the total number of points you will earn by 200 to work out the $ value of your rewards. This author gets $4.98 of rewards per annum (that's an extra $0.98 per annum from the new programme).


The second major component of the program is the new my5 discounts. You can pre-register 5 different product categories (out of hundreds of possible categories), and you will receive a 10% discount on the 5 most expensive products you buy from each of those categories every day. Each category contains 1 or multiple related products. Any weighed products can be counted up to 5kg. You must spend at least $50 in a transaction to have your my5 discounts applied. You cannot change your product categories once you have selected them.

If that is a simple reward program, we may as well give up Prosple right now. At least this bit is simple to understand: the my5 program ends on October 31, 2012.

Are the my5 discounts actually worth it? Let's be optimistic and assume you spend $150 on your weekly shop at Coles, and managed to capture $20 of your bill under the my5 discounts (let's say you chose Helga's bread loaf, Coles free-range eggs, Coles chicken breasts, Coles-brand milk, and canned John West tuna - and you purchase those products each and every week). You'll get a $2 discount on your $150 bill.

It's not bad, but it's nothing to write home about.

Perhaps, though, if they get enough older women drooling over younger men, they'll manage to distract us from the cold hard truth: Flybuys aren't worth much at all.