Grocery Loyalty, Moving Beyond the Card

Nov 15, 2013

Grocery loyalty is evolving. True loyalty in the space is about more than offering discounts and promotional offers. The real key to driving loyalty in this grocery vertical lies in understanding and managing the full customer shopping experience.

For decades, the basic grocery loyalty program model was based on a straightforward value proposition where customers got special offers and discounts in exchange for sharing information about themselves and their shopping habits. While that value prop still lies at the heart of a forward thinking grocery loyalty program, it’s no longer enough to drive attitudinal loyalty and an emotional connection to the retailer. Simply put, there are too many similar retailers and options for consumers to choose from today. Beyond that, the discount-first loyalty model runs the risk that consumers will refrain from purchasing items that are not connected to a loyalty discount, negatively impacting their shopping behavior.

Woman grocery shopping
If almost all grocery retailers (who mainly carry the same products) have the same sort of loyalty program, how do retailers differentiate themselves and capture the attention of their customers? The answer is simple. Everything must be about the customer experience. For the success of any new or enhanced grocery loyalty program, the following focus areas are paramount.

1. Personalization

It sounds simple, but most grocery retailers don’t truly personalize their offers and content to individual customers. In an age of personalized everything, customers are definitely taking notice. It is critical that retailers take note of this, and begin offering true personalization throughout the entire loyalty program experience. What’s the takeaway? Talk to your program members individually. Use their transactional data to personalize your communications, focus on their program preferences to talk to them when and where they want to be contacted. Give them content that is relevant to their life, interests and needs.

2. Omnichannel Empowerment & Engagement

Omnichannel empowerment and engagement is all about letting the customer own their shopping experience. Give them the tools to make shopping easier and more enjoyable. Help them navigate the store once they arrive, allow them to share feedback –positive and negative- with you, and within their own social circles. Overall, make sure these tools span the full length of the customer experience, from the time they first think about your store, to the time they’re unpacking groceries they purchased at home.

3. Mobile & Geo-located engagement

Don’t wait until your customers are in the checkout lane to talk to them, do it while they are roaming your aisles, where you can affect their current shopping trip AND give them a better shopping experience. Through the use of mobile apps, it’s easier than ever to look at what your customers are buying in real time and give them targeted incentives to drive up their shopping cart value. From the retailer’s perspective, customers will buy more, and from the customer’s perspective, the brand is helping to make their shopping trip more effective and personalized.


4. Employee Engagement & Customer Services

True loyalty in the grocery space requires every employee – from the top to the bottom – to play a role in driving a strong customer experience for each and every shopper. Whether they realize it or not, each employee has a chance to shape shoppers perception of the brand, and they must to be trained and incentivized to do so.

When implemented in tandem, these areas of focus work wonders to differentiate grocery loyalty programs and make sure they’re driving true loyalty, not just satisfying customer’s desire for discounts.