The Sun has quietly been rolling out a loyalty reward programme, Sun Savers, in a bid to incentivise readers to keep buying its print product by offering them cash and brand-backed rewards.
While the programme is in beta, the managing director of The Sun David Robinson hinted it could kick start a dedicated business much like its betting and gaming divisions.
Sun Savers is a print-based promotion, whereby readers collect 28 codes by scanning the paper on the Sun Savers app, and get £5 back. It has launched in beta and will be launching fully in 2017. A number of promotions have run in the past few months to encourage readers to give feedback on the app, including an iPhone 7 prize draw.
The app is only available to logged in Sun readers, opening up a CRM play. It also provides the publisher with a new way of using its valuable first party audience data, by giving advertisers the opportunity to push relevant content through the app. The approach draws parallels with mobile provider O2 and its popular Priority Moments reward programme, which uses select partners to push promotions local to the user.
Newspaper publishers have had a tough few years of rapidly declining print sales as advertisers and readers switch to online platforms, forcing them to diversify their revenue streams beyond print advertising. Revenues from print advertising are expected to slump by between 15% and 20% this year, following a 15% fall in 2015, according to the Financial Times.
It's why The Sun has launched a number of new products over the past years, including the fantasy football game Dream Team, Sun Bingo, and betting division Sun Bets. So far its revenue streams have been focused heavily on sport, with Savers representing a move to appeal to a wider audience.
"Sun Savers is probably a good example of an area where we will build out a programme we believe will be profitable for us and the customer," said Robinson. "It may be something that starts as a loyalty programme but we might push content around it, build a business off the back of that."