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Loyalty Cards Get Mixed Grades

Supermarket executives in the Seattle area say that loyalty cards have done wonders to promote customer loyalty and marketing efforts since they first began arriving in the area a decade ago. But industry analysts say the results are a mixed bag.

Consumers "feel almost hostage by these cards," says Blaine Becker, marketing director with the Hartman Group, since they don't see any benefit beyond savings. And many shoppers--including the advocacy group Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering--say they don't appreciate having to swap their personal information to get the sale price on ice cream, lunch meat and salad dressing.

Most stores report that the vast majority of customers carry the cards. But more than two-thirds of sales still come from a loyal core that's less than 20% of a store's customers, just as they did before, according to data provided by the Food Marketing Institute. And stores still advertise in newspapers and print coupons, costly tools some predicted they'd skip once loyalty programs got going.



Read the whole story at Seattle Times »

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