Supermarket chain Super Fresh upgraded its loyalty program this fall, offering tiered levels of benefits tied to how much shoppers spend weekly.
Like many supermarket chains, Super Fresh had a frequent-shopper program for years called Bonus Buys that gave customers a discount. However, it wanted to create a more customer-oriented program using the customer-transaction and SKU-level data it had collected over the years.
After a search of marketing agencies, Super Fresh selected Customer Communications Group, Denver, to develop and launch the Club Fresh loyalty program. CCG began work on the program in May.
“Our role was to take this data and make it actionable and relevant to the customer, and to develop programs to communicate to that customer based on the customer value to the organization,” said Sallie Burnett, CCG's vice president of national sales.
Burnett said that Super Fresh and CCG wanted to shift from a discount-oriented strategy to one that “leveraged both rational benefits, like the discounts, but also emotional benefits, which create a greater affinity. Research has shown that loyalty is both rational and emotional. If you don't have a balance [of these two things], then you are not creating loyalty.”
Super Fresh, whose parent company is A&P, opened its first store in Philadelphia in 1982. Now Super Fresh has more than 76 stores in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, DC.
Club Fresh debuted Oct. 18. It has three levels, all free: Club Fresh, Club Fresh Gold and Club Fresh Platinum. Membership levels are based on spending. Anyone can join Club Fresh, while Platinum members spend an average of $75 or more weekly and Gold members spend an average of $50-$74.99 weekly.
Benefits vary by level. Club Fresh members receive double manufacturer coupons, special programs and sweepstakes, and free cookie and deli samples. Gold members get those benefits plus free issues of Club Fresh News, a quarterly food and lifestyle newsletter, and other benefits. Platinum members receive the Club Fresh and Gold benefits and also can participate in Super Fresh's President's Council, where they can give their input to improve the store.
The multi-tiered structure, “where the more you give, the more you get, gives a customer a reason to consolidate and make most of their purchases at Super Fresh,” Burnett said.
To promote the program, CCG and Super Fresh sent direct mail before the launch date to Super Fresh's top 212,449 Bonus Buy customers. Customers got personalized letters reflecting their Club Fresh status and average weekly spending.
They also received new club cards that required no application or processing to activate. The letters also included an offer for up to 40 percent off their purchases and asked prospective members to provide their e-mail addresses to get information from Super Fresh via e-mail.
The program was promoted Oct. 18 in newspapers including the Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Inquirer and smaller regional papers. The newspapers had a bag wrap with the announcement of the program inside. The newspapers also included an insert with an application to join Club Fresh.
For two weeks starting Oct. 18, customers were greeted at supermarket doors and invited to join the program and save up to 40 percent off purchases. Concurrently, customers making purchases with Bonus Buy cards were asked by Super Fresh sales associates if they wished to join the Club Fresh program and save up to 40 percent off purchases.
Bonus Buy card numbers were linked to Club Fresh cards so Super Fresh did not lose customer purchase history. CCG coded the applications to identify customers that completed a newspaper application or an application received in-store.
“The loyalty program itself becomes an infrastructure to deliver targeted offers for the course of the year and to respond to customer behavior accordingly,” CCG president/CEO Sandra Gudat said.
For example, the program will let Super Fresh do “version messaging at point-of-sale and direct mail programs based on previous purchase behavior and the customer levels,” Burnett said.
Mark Hamilton, vice president of marketing at Super Fresh, said the company is not prepared to disclose sales numbers and ROI, but that based on the incremental sales the program is generating, “we are pleased with the results thus far. The Club Fresh program enables us to build strong relationships with our customers, satisfy more of their needs and to reward our top shoppers.”