FARMER JACK BEAUTIFIES ITS LOYALTY CARD PROGRAM

DETROIT -- Farmer Jack Supermarkets, a subsidiary of A&P, Montvale, N.J., recently expanded its customer loyalty card offering by introducing a Health & Beauty Bonus Savings Club.The new loyalty incentive program, which began on May 2, allows any customer who spends $100 on health and beauty care items to receive $10 in cash back from the retailer. Farmer Jack claims that the initiative is a first

DETROIT -- Farmer Jack Supermarkets, a subsidiary of A&P, Montvale, N.J., recently expanded its customer loyalty card offering by introducing a Health & Beauty Bonus Savings Club.

The new loyalty incentive program, which began on May 2, allows any customer who spends $100 on health and beauty care items to receive $10 in cash back from the retailer. Farmer Jack claims that the initiative is a first for the supermarket industry. "Customer response is in strong favor for the Health & Beauty Bonus Savings Club, borne through research, and it helps us understand our customers a little better [through the tracking of customer purchases]," said John Ponzio, vice president of public and government affairs for the retailer.

Jean Mojo, managing partner at promotion marketing agency Einson Freeman, Paramus, N.J., said the initiative could bring attention to a traditionally powerful mass merchant and drugstore category.

"It's a great way to put focus on health and beauty at grocery, and it enhances their overall offering," she said. "It's a pretty compelling traffic driver for Farmer Jack, and it rounds them out as a one-stop shop."

While Mojo has heard of loyalty incentives for specific brands, she said she has never heard of retailers providing loyalty card initiatives for an entire category.

"It really provides flexibility for the customer," she said.

Farmer Jack carries more than 5,000 products in its health and beauty care department, including shampoo, toothpaste, foot care, hair-styling products, shaving needs, skin care, feminine care, deodorants, meal supplements, first aid, eye care, pain relievers, cold remedies and vitamins.

"Farmer Jack is always looking for new and inventive ways to save our customers time and money," said Dennis Eidson, president and chief executive officer of the grocery chain, in a written statement. "Our customers are rewarded for making their health and beauty purchases at Farmer Jack."

The new loyalty incentive will be promoted through an extensive television and radio advertising campaign. The program will also be marketed through in-store signage and promoted in Farmer Jack's in-store circular, featuring brands like Slim Fast, Listerine and Tylenol.

" 'Ten dollars back' is a pretty strong message," said Ponzio.

All current Bonus Savings Club card holders are automatically enrolled in the program, which is available at all 107 Farmer Jack locations. Lifetime membership is free, and the cards are instantly activated.

Al Wittemen, president of the Retail Performance Group, Redding, Conn., said the program could succeed if the retailer has done its homework on what the consumer wants on an emotional level.

"Everyone is trying to create greater loyalty among consumers," he said. "Like a lot of things in retail, it depends on the execution -- the key is delivering an ideal consumer experience."

In addition to the Bonus Savings Club and this new loyalty card concept, Farmer Jack also created the Baby Bonus Savings Club and the Northwest WorldPerks Bonus Miles program, which offers air miles in conjunction with shopping purchases.