SALISBURY, N.C. — Food Lion's baby club is all grown up.
The retailer revamped the six-year-old Baby Steps program last month with a new Web presence that provides customized content, Internet coupons and a list of unadvertised specials available only to Food Lion loyalty card holders. Recent offers included 40 cents off Beech-Nut Baby food, 4 ounces, and Huggies Jumbo Diapers for $8.99.
“We are able to promote unadvertised specials on items from the baby category that customers normally would not be aware of until they entered the store,” Kimberly Blackburn, Food Lion's corporate communications manager, told SN.
Visitors to www.foodlion.com/babysteps  can get customized content for babies from birth to age 2 by entering the age range of their child. Users can then browse an array of articles, including a new moms' checklist, diaper and bathing tips, and feeding suggestions. Visitors don't have to be loyalty card holders to access Baby Steps.
Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, Gerber and other companies serve as program sponsors by providing some of the material.
“Food Lion partnered with key vendors from the baby category to provide educational information via the website,” Blackburn said.
A special section on the site promotes Food Lion's store-brand baby line, which includes diapers, wipes, skin care items and an electrolyte solution. A printable $1.50 Internet coupon is offered on any Food Lion diapers or wipes.
“Our wipes come slightly scented or fragrance-free,” the website reads. “They come in a one-handed, push-button, pop-up dispensing tub for easy use during the busy diaper-changing time.”
Along with the unadvertised discounts, Baby Steps provides printable coupons for weekly specials on baby products. Powered by BrandCouponNetwork.com, Baton Rouge, La., the Internet coupons recently included $1 off Pampers diapers and $2 off Enfamil formula.
The revitalization of Baby Steps comes at a time when more retailers are developing baby clubs to lure the coveted young-mother demographic into their stores. But while many such programs — including those hosted by Bashas', Shaw's and Winn-Dixie — provide coupons, few, if any, have a dedicated Internet page for baby-related discounts.
“Other portals might offer an array of offers. But this is mom-centric,” said Dan Abraham, BrandCouponNetwork.com's president and founder. “Food Lion has committed to give Baby Steps a significant presence.”
BrandCouponNetwork.com provides so-called controllable-print coupons (CPCs), online coupons delivered to printers without ever being posted on the user's computer screen. This helps deter counterfeiting and gives the brand or retailer more control. In addition, each CPC has an identification number so any duplication or misredemption can be identified through the clearing process, according to Abraham.
The revamped baby club is a good example of how retailers should be taking loyalty marketing to the next level, said Jim Hertel, managing partner of consulting firm Willard Bishop, Barrington, Ill.
“It's good to see that there are people thinking about loyalty marketing in more sophisticated and strategic ways,” he said.
The reason for that is many of today's loyalty programs have become nothing more than a way to provide discounts, without truly generating consumer loyalty, said Hertel.
Rather, loyalty programs should be leveraged to understand consumer purchasing behavior and pinpoint marketing goals, whether it's to encourage a consumer to trade up, buy more or add complementary products to their baskets, he said.