GEMCON 1999

SAN ANTONIO -- In an effort to learn whether adult shoppers' purchasing habits change when their children are present, Furr's Supermarkets, Albuquerque, N.M., is conducting a frequent-shopper program for the children of its cardholders."The shopping patterns of the parents do change [when children are present]," said Jeanne Heithold, director of customer marketing at Furr's. "We are at the point now

SAN ANTONIO -- In an effort to learn whether adult shoppers' purchasing habits change when their children are present, Furr's Supermarkets, Albuquerque, N.M., is conducting a frequent-shopper program for the children of its cardholders.

"The shopping patterns of the parents do change [when children are present]," said Jeanne Heithold, director of customer marketing at Furr's. "We are at the point now where we're working on mining the data to determine just how much effect it has."

Heithold spoke about the retailer's frequent-shopper program for kids at the eighth annual Global Electronic Marketing conference here March 21 to 23, sponsored by Retail Systems Consulting, Naples Fla., and the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Food Marketing Institute, both of Washington.

The kids' club entitles members to a free weekly offer based on education, nutrition and other items "that do not upset the parent," she said. Some products available include a Furry's Kids Club Book and a free cake and card on the child's birthday, she reported. The program not only allows Furr's to build kids' loyalty, but also allows the retailer to know the birthdays of the cardholders.

"So far, we have a redemption rate of 75% to 80% with these programs," Heitholt said.

The children of Furr's frequent-shopper cardholders are eligible to participate in the program, called the Furry's Kids Club, she said. The kids club program, which is open to children between the ages of four and 10, was launched in April 1998 and has since been rolled out to all Furr's stores. To date, "approximately 30% of our frequent-shopper cardholders have children who also have cards," Heithold said.

"The reason we started the program was because it gives us the ability to build a database on the entire family," she added.

The bar code on the back of the child's frequent-shopper card is linked to the parent's loyalty-card bar code, although the transactions are processed separately. "We can track [purchases] throughout the day and know if the parents bought items and what items they bought," she said.

One issue of concern among parents, according to Heithold, is the privacy of their children.

"Parents are very concerned about the information they must give out about their children," Heithold explained. "That is why we have made the decision to allow kids to be members of the program without giving out any of their personal information [to the retailer]."