Marks & Spencer has launched a new premium tier to its Sparks loyalty scheme, providing members with a host of additional benefits including free hot drinks and unlimited delivery.
The Sparks scheme was first launched back in 2015, and initially rewarded shoppers with points when they spent in store or posted product reviews.
As shoppers built up points, they would unlock new offers and perks open to them, such as early access to new fashion lines and invitation-only events and masterclasses.
However, M&S said that following feedback from thousands of scheme members, it redesigned Sparks to remove the elements that people found “confusing”, instead introducing instant rewards, more tailored offers and a wide selection of charities to support.
How does the Sparks scheme work?
Let’s start with the basic tier of the Sparks scheme. Every week one shopper, who swipes their Sparks card or app at the till, will get their shopping for free.
Even if you don’t get your shopping for free, some shoppers will be presented with special offers or treats based on their purchases, from packs of Percy Pigs to Apothecary candles.
Plus, M&S has emphasised that there will be better offers based on how often you shop.
The idea is that this relaunched Sparks scheme will allow M&S to understand its customers better, and therefore provide more personalised deals.
So, the more regularly you shop at M&S, the better the store will understand how you like to spend your money, and in theory the more relevant the offers will be for you.
What’s more, money is donated to partner charities each time you shop at M&S ‒ you get to choose where those donations go.
Charity partners include the likes of NHS Charities Together, the British Heart Foundation, The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and GOSH.
How does Sparks Plus work?
Now a new premium level is being added to the Sparks scheme, named Sparks Plus.
It’s being soft launched, so it’s not being highly promoted by M&S, yet it will catch the eye of regular M&S shoppers.
Benefits to signing up for Sparks Plus include:
A free hot drink each month
A monthly £10 voucher
There will also be special store events, gifts and doubled charity donations.
The store reckons that the benefits from Sparks Plus are worth more than £200 a year, while it costs £12 a month.
Don't forget to check out our M&S meal deal roundup. It lets you know when the next offer will be available and what's on the menu. Or you can pick up a Dine In gift card if you know someone else who loves the meal deal.
Is the new scheme any good?
This is the big question, but there's not yet an obvious answer. It’s certainly true that the old scheme was confusing, but things aren’t necessarily that much clearer with the new setup.
We don’t know how often shoppers will be presented with offers based on what’s in their shopping basket, nor what those offers will really look like.
And while there will always be arguments over just how generous these schemes are in terms of the points you get when you shop, there is at least some certainty. If I spend £100 in Tesco, I know how many Clubcard points I’m going to get.
But with Sparks, what am I going to get for spending £100? I honestly have no idea.
With those schemes, I can enjoy a wide variety of rewards from outside of those supermarkets too. I can cash in my Nectar points for money off flights, trips out with the family, gizmos for the car, as well as simply saving a few quid at the till.
But with Sparks the benefits, that we know about at least, are limited to M&S itself.
That’s not a bad thing in and of itself of course. There are plenty of people that do the bulk of their shopping, from food to clothes to homeware, at M&S. For those shoppers, signing up to Sparks and getting a little extra back makes complete sense.
Indeed, even if you are only an occasional M&S shopper it has to be worth at least giving Sparks a go.
Whereas before Sparks really only provided anything to shoppers who spend regularly at M&S, now even the occasional M&S shopper is at least in with a chance of bagging a free shop, and all simply for having an app on their phone.
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. This article was written independently and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative.