Supermarket loyalty schemes aim at e-relationships

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on July 28, 2005

Most supermarket chains with frequent shopper/card-based loyalty programmes now collect customer e-mail addresses, showing a distinct shift toward being able to conduct e-marketing campaigns through their loyalty database, according to a study from Retail Systems Consulting (RSC).

As further evidence of the trend, the report revealed that more than half of the supermarket chains involved have online signups available for their frequent shopper cards - an important and automated way to collect the e-mail addresses necessary for future e-marketing campaigns. More than three-quarters of the chains also request the customer's e-mail address on their printed paper application forms.

RSC tracks this information in its Card-Based Marketing Report which examines US-based supermarket chains and their frequent shopper programmes. The firm says that other statistics from the 2005 report will be released in October 2005 at the Global Electronic Marketing Conference (GEMCON) in Las Vegas.

Online sign-ups
Of the 66 chain retailers tracked by the report, 81% already have "e-mail address" as an optional field on their physical application forms, and 53% already allow consumers to sign up for frequent shopper programmes online. But 68% of those that do not have direct online signup facilities offer the alternative of printing out an application form and handing it in at the consumer's local store.

Prequalified consumers
Carlene Thissen, president for RSC, commented: "We think it's positive that more than half the supermarkets have online signup available. The beauty of online signup is that retailers get e-mail addresses of consumers who are actively engaged in online activities, highly likely to provide their e-mail address, and probably desire e-mail communications."

But, Thissen warned, it is still important for loyalty programme operators and e-marketers to provide a working 'opt-out' mechanism or, even better, a more active 'opt-in' mechanism that consumers can use to subscribe to future e-mailings.

More to come?
Senior RSC consultant, Betsy Tucker, who compiled the report, added: "Some of the chains that restrict signup to in-store do so because they have cheque-cashing as a benefit of the card. So it is logical to require applicants to come into the store for verification of their ID. But for the other chains, consumers could sign up online if the retailers had that capability. We expect to see this trend continue and more retailers to collect e-mail addresses in the future."

Other trends
Other interesting trends highlighted by the report include:

  • More than four out of five chains (82%) with card-based marketing also run online advertisements or flyers;
  • One-quarter (26%) offer coupons through SmartSource or CoolSavings;
  • Almost half (45%) offer ValuPage;
  • More than half (52%) of their web sites include recipes.

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