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    Big Y Integrates Groupon to Loyalty Cards

    The new program will make social buying easy for its customers

    Big Y Foods, Inc. today became the first grocer to offer Groupon deals digitally loaded to shoppers’ loyalty cards when it launched its initial Groupon offer this morning -- a newly introduced Shellfish Grill Pack, including lobster tails, mussels, clams, and other seafood suitable for grilling, which retails at $39.99 and is being offered at a 40 percent discount for $24.

    “We found this to be a nice way to differentiate ourselves while enhancing the shopper experience, and adding a bit of excitement to it,” Big Y dir. of database marketing Harry Kimball told Progressive Grocer. ‘And since it’s integrated to the shoppers’ loyalty card, there is no hassle for them.”

    Big Y worked with Incentive Targeting and HaloEffect to integrate Groupon to its loyalty card program. The partnership combines Groupon’s social buying platform with Incentive Targeting’s retail shopper marketing technology, Big Y’s grocery retail loyalty program, and HaloEffect’s agency creative and grocery marketing expertise.

    Here’s how it works: A shopper purchases the Groupon online, enters their Big Y Express Saving Club membership number and the Shellfish Grill Pack deal is electronically loaded to the shopper’s loyalty card. When the shopper purchases the promoted products at a Big Y supermarket, the deal is automatically credited at check out.

    “As pioneers in loyalty cards for retail, we’re partnering with Groupon and Incentive Targeting to test social buying with our shoppers,” said Michael D’Amour, VP of sales and merchandising for Big Y “We anticipate that we will attract new customer interest as we explore new avenues in interactive customer marketing.”

    According to Tom Schneider, president of Boston-based HaloEffect, consumers in the US spend over $550 billion a year on groceries, and CPG companies devote $35 billion annually to marketing and promotion. “We see this partnership having the potential to revolutionize the grocery marketing landscape,” he said.

    Groupon launched in November 2008 in Chicago, and features a daily deal on the best stuff to do, eat, see and buy in more than 500 markets around the world. It uses collective buying power to offer low prices and provide deals that benefit both the retailer and consumer. Groupon could not comment as it is in a quiet period pending an upcoming IPO.

    “Groupon, which has cracked the code of how to engage consumers on a broad scale with exciting offers,” said Win Burke, president and CEO of Incentive Targeting. “Using the combined Groupon and Incentive Targeting system, CPGs and grocery retail chains can not only deliver great offers to their shoppers, but also through our patent-pending shopper marketing platform they can measure the effectiveness of the program in real time, including how many new shoppers have been engaged, and follow up with these highly desirable shoppers with attractive targeted programs.”

    The new program is part of Big Y’s continuing efforts to leverage social media in its marketing and merchandising efforts. “We have an active Facebook page, which we use to engage our customers and get feedback from them,” said Kimball. “We also work with several e-coupon platforms.”

    Mobile is also an area he is exploring. “A lot of consumers are walking around with smart phones,” Kimball added. “But what’s important to note is that they like using their smartphones – it’s not a burden to them. So integrating mobile programs that leverage these devices is a win-win. “

    Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y operates 61 stores throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts with over 10,000 employees.

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