At Safeway’s annual investors conference in early March, Steve Burd, president and CEO, spent 30 minutes raving about the potential of its Just For U marketing program that combines personalization and mobility.
“The offers are much more relevant than the weekly ad,” said Mr. Burd. “Will we continue to do the weekly ad? We will. But I can envision a point in time where that’s not really very important.”
The program lets shoppers access promotional offerings online — including special offers tailored to their purchasing history — and load them all on their loyalty card. Linking the program to their smartphone enables shoppers to carry a personalized grocery list inside stores while exploring other in-store deals.
In test-mode for two years, Just for U is gearing up for a national rollout.
For shoppers, the digital site congregates virtually any paper coupon that exists in the market. To speed up the grocery-list creation process, club deals and coupons are organized based on the shopper’s purchasing history and also by expiration date.
Special deals are also offered to the shopper on between 25 and 40 items that they buy on a routine basis based on their buying history. The deals last seven to 90 days. The goal is have the lowest price in the market. Said Mr. Burd, “If it’s carried by anyone else, particularly a price operator, we’ll feature that price operator and its price that week for that item.”
Between the personalized offers and better organizing club deals and coupons, the consumer is estimated to save between 15 percent to 20 percent a week in addition to the time saved finding promotions and shopping the store.
Besides better engaging consumers through the overall program, the use of personalizing offers cuts down the price competition that comes from a mass approach such as circulars. Said Mr. Burd, “Your go-to-market strategy becomes a lot more invisible to your competition.”
Targeting promotions based on purchase history also helps drive incremental sales and product trial efficiencies.
But mobility is expected to particularly support the program’s usage since consumers can access their offers on their own schedule through smartphones. Mr. Burd pointed to several “down-time” instances to encourage use, such as a soccer game, a commuter train, or waiting in a doctor’s office.
“This is very much like having the Safeway cloud,” said Mr. Burd. “Instead of that cloud being information, say, your music that you put there, accessible through your desktop, accessible through your laptop, accessible through your mobile device, it’s information that we put there, about your personal pricing opportunities that you can access through all of those devices.”
While mass marketing approaches such as circulars will still be used “for some time yet to come,” Mr. Burd believes communication will be increasingly personalized.