Behind her screen, the 40-year-old checks as soon as she buys online that her iGraal extension is activated, whether on the websites of Fnac, Carrefour or Booking. Because this company of “cash-back” (“return of money”), champion of the French market, indeed promises to be recredited with a certain percentage of its expenses during purchases on the partner sites.
A scam ? No way. From 20 euros in her online kitty, Aurélie Pignon will be able to convert them into real money in her bank account, which she has already done on several occasions. “Frankly, when my brother told me about it, I couldn’t believe it. It was too good to be true ! “says this mother.
” We have trouble getting people to understand how we work “, tells AFP François Despruniée, marketing director of iGraal, for whom ” the market in France is much less educated than in Anglo-Saxon countries, where the concept originated.
“Cash-back” companies such as iGraal, Poulpeo or eBuyClub work for merchant sites as business introducers. Thanks to the attractive return on investment promised, ” we will help increase their clientele and sales “, explains Mr. Despruniée, “ In return, the stores pay us a commission, which we share with our users. “.
Are we modest?
The system is far from new – iGraal was launched in 2006, eBuyClub in 1999 -, but with the drastic rise in food or energy prices since the start of the war in Ukraine, it is experiencing a revival of interest.
” In recent months, we have seen tremendous growth. confirms Jean-Paul Yildiz of eBuyClub, which has doubled since the beginning of the year its number of registered users – 4.4 million – and its purchase flows.
” Inflation unfortunately strengthens the positioning of cash-back sites like us “, he notes, because” the French are looking for easy good deals to lower the bill “. And the cash-back, which gives back on average 5 to 7% of its expenses to the user, allows, according to him, to ” cancel or reduce » inflation of around 5%.
” It is one way among others to limit the erosion of purchasing power “, confirms Olivier Gayraud, of the consumer association CLCV. But ” except for exceptional purchases, such as large household appliances, we are talking about fairly modest sums “, he nuances. Indeed, a user will save an average of 120 euros each year, says iGraal, about 200 euros boasts eBuyClub.
” These small sums should not dampen the consumer’s desire to compare “with other sellers without” cash back “, sometimes more interesting for him, warns Mr. Gayraud, “ nor encourages him to consume more than he needs “.
“Smart shoppers and moms”
An opinion shared by researcher Régine Vanheems, for whom cash-back presents “ a symbolic value for the consumer really higher than the discount coupon ” – too ” binding in terms of dates and brands for a customer who wants freedom ” – thanks to that ” cold hard currency “.
However, it considers it insufficient to compensate for the inflation affecting the most exposed households, especially since they are rarely the ones who use it, for lack of time.
” Bargain hunters often don’t need it for their budget, but they use it to project themselves as a smart buyer “, she deciphers.
These ” smart shoppers », eBuyClub knows them well: a population of « connected urban youth “, not interested in mass distribution offers, but who activate their “ cash back » for travel, electronic or ready-to-wear equipment. Even though the ” moms “in trouble like Aurélie Pignon still make up the bulk of the clientele.
But there is still quite a huge potential of recruitment, the cash back “Intervening according to Mr. Yildiz only on 1-1.5% of total purchases – physical and online – in France, against 3% in the United States.
Next step therefore: expand their cash-back offer in stores, where online banks – serious competitors of specialized sites – are increasingly positioning themselves.
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iGraal, Poulpeo… Can you really save via cashback sites?