Somerfield launches loyalty card scheme

Related tags Sainsbury's Asda Loyalty program

Somerfield, the UK supermarket group, has launched a new loyalty
card scheme under the Saver name, offering customers a range of
promotions and money-off coupons tailored to their shopping

Unlike the schemes run by larger rivals such as Tesco and Sainsbury, Somerfield's card holders do not earn points which can then be exchanged for goods, services or money-off vouchers. Instead, they will receive instant discounts at the checkout and members-only in-store discounts thanks to the technology behind the card which Somerfield said had been three years in the making.

For example, a customer who builds up a shopper history of regularly buying fresh meat is likely to be given a discount tailored for that category, in turn increasing an offer's relevancy and therefore uptake.

"Somerfield decided to take the promotional-driven route because research showed that our customers are only interested in instant, relevant savings - hence it was designed to fit consumer demand,"​ Somerfield's Julie Daniels told​.

"The point of difference with competitors' loyalty cards is that Saver Card gives instant savings on your shopping and builds a shopping history enabling us to target loyal shoppers with offers on their favourite products. The speed with which shoppers are rewarded is the biggest single difference from other loyalty schemes."

Billed as a promotional card rather than a loyalty card, the card was launched in the group's 599 stores nationwide last week after extensive trials at 175 stores in southern England and Wales. "Somerfield has invested three years to develop Saver Card and we have proved that it works for us,"​ Daniels said.

Somerfield expects to sign up around three million customers for its Saver Card within six to eight weeks. Customers who sign up to the scheme will receive two key fobs in addition to their cards, making it easier to spread the benefits to several family members, the company said.

The thinking behind Saver Card was developed in the US in response to Wal-Mart's market entry and has proved incredibly popular with retailers and shoppers alike, according to Daniels.

"The Saver Card has been introduced to help us reward our most loyal customers and to more effectively meet their individual needs. The Saver Card will enable us to identify who our main shoppers are, help us to make positive changes and target promotions to please them."

Somerfield is some way behind its larger rivals in launching a card scheme, but at least it has not followed the same path as Tesco and Sainsbury, reasoning that low prices are more important for shoppers than the chance to save up for Air Miles or swap their points for a set of bath towels.

But the question is whether what customers really prefer are low prices all of the time - the Every Day Low Prices strategy employed by the likes of Asda and Morrisons - and whether the Somerfield scheme falls between two stools: it does not offer the same range of products and services as more sophisticated card schemes, while other retailers are able to offer lower prices across the board and not just on selected products.

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