Giant Food Stores plans to introduce a new loyalty program designed to bring customers more personalization, more paths to rewards and a more engaging digital experience.
Called Giant Choice Rewards, the program has been under pilot with shoppers in a test market in western Pennsylvania since June, and Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant is targeting a full launch to customers by the end of this year. An initial pilot with associates began in January and is slated to become available to all associates in August.
Giant President Nick Bertram (below) said Choice Rewards maintains the benefits of the retailer’s current loyalty offerings — Giant BonusCard, Gas Extra Rewards and Bonus Buy Savings — but now brings them under one brand with new ways to earn and redeem points and an improved digital experience.
“We have been trying a lot of different things to connect closer to customers. About 20 years ago, we launched what was really our first loyalty program, called Gas Rewards, and that's been a pretty important part of our customers’ lives,” Bertram told Supermarket News in an interview. “But what we have learned is — we've partnered with our sister company PDL [Peapod Digital Labs] to try to get more digitally savvy — that it was time to start changing and get ready for the way families are shopping now, which is a little bit different. It's not always only about gas points.
“So we've been piloting this enhanced rewards program, which we call Giant Choice Rewards, with customers in our test market for about a couple months now, and we've learned quite a bit from it,” he explained. “Ten out of every 12 customers have been involved in our gas rewards program since its inception. We were cautious about making an adjustment there, but we saw the opportunity to give more options to customers. We’re really excited about that and plan to continue to push the program forward throughout this year.”
Under Giant Choice Rewards, customers will still earn one point for every $1 spent and have the opportunity to redeem points for fuel discounts (10 cents for every 100 points up to 25 gallons) and earn free gas. Weekly circular promotions also will allow customers to earn extra points for purchases.
But now program members will get new ways to earn points — including personalized monthly basket offers, personalized weekly category offers and monthly semi-personalized, category-specific offers — as well as new ways to redeem points, such as dollars off the shopping basket ($1 for each 100 points) and free products with point redemptions. In addition, customers will be able to redeem CSM vendor coupons for points instead of money off products.
“As we get into more urban environments and as customers evolve, there are a lot of other things that are important to families now. And we thought that our rewards program needed to evolve as well,” Bertram said. “So now instead of just getting dollars off fuel, you also can get special rewards off your grocery bill. You can get special free items. There are a lot of different components of Giant Choice Rewards.”
Besides creating a more holistic loyalty platform, Choice Rewards enables customers to earn and redeem points in more relevant ways that reflect how they shop, Bertram noted.
“Personalization really is what led to Giant Choice Rewards,” he said. “They can save directly on groceries by redeeming points or getting free products. The main thing was trying to get more engagement on our Giant and Martin’s apps. And that's where this program lives.”
Giant has seen a strong customer response so far in the pilot, according to Bertram. “I think the fact that they get to pick their own reward is what stands out to them,” he said.
Choice Rewards also brings an improved look and functionality for the app and the loyalty program website. In the app, for example, a home rewards tab will spotlight point earnings offers, and customers will be able to more easily convert points to grocery and fuel discounts and redeem points on special offers.
“We have seen more households become digitally engaged instead of just using their plastic cards, which is really important to us and gives us the ability to customize and personalize offers in a way that perhaps didn't take place in the past,” said Bertram.
Giant plans to kick off a comprehensive marketing campaign for Choice Rewards in 2020. That effort will include advertising circular product overlays for point rewards to drive further customer engagement, such as double points for a minimum transaction size, point bonuses for buying certain products and free items for using a specific number of points.
Bertram said the new program will help Giant better compete in its Mid-Atlantic market area, where it operates 181 stores under the Giant Food Stores, Martin’s Food Market and Giant Heirloom Market banners.
“We believe that Choice Rewards gives more control to our customers, who we care so much about. They trust us, we trust them,” he said. “Giving them the opportunity to apply the rewards that they get for their loyalty to us, however it is most meaningful to their family, will lead to a deeper relationship, which is ultimately what we're all about.”
In addition to viewing personalized offers and rewards earnings on the app, customers will be able to load digital coupons, activate Deli Order Ahead, or place Giant Direct online grocery orders, as well as track and manage their points and rewards.
“Since its launch in 2000, our loyalty program has been an integral component of our business, but we knew there was an opportunity to deepen our connection with families by customizing rewards,” Chief Marketing Officer Matt Simon said in a statement. “We’re pleased by the early results of our Choice Rewards pilot as customers are excited by all the new rewards, plus they love the flexibility of the program.”