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The final session of the 2019 Customer Expo, which ran from November 11 to 13 in Indianapolis, Indiana, broke from the usual presentation structure to feature a lively discussion between Emily Mikus, Director of Loyalty and Shopper Marketing at GIANT Food Stores, and Mark Johnson, CEO and CMO of Loyalty360. These two thought leaders discussed how GIANT is dealing with the challenges that brands across industries face: changing customers, improving engagement, and adapting rewards programs to stay relevant to customers’ needs, among other things.
One problem Mikus set out to deal with was the fact that many customers perceive loyalty programs as gimmicky, not customer centric. That’s the main reason GIANT decided to change its loyalty program, which hadn’t been touched since its inception in 2004. While the program had been one of the most successful initiatives the company had ever launched, Mikus and team knew that they would have to stay ahead of customer desires if the program were to remain at that level.
So, Mikus introduced a new concept to the company’s reward program, along with a new name: GIANT Choice Rewards. Previously, the program had only offered discounts on gas in return for transactions. Under Mikus’ guidance, however, the program now offers Grocery Dollars (at a ratio of $1 for every 100 points a customer accumulates) and exclusive perks. The point of the new program was to keep the gas rewards untouched while also offering new benefits for customers who weren’t interested in the gas discount.
The new Choice Rewards program was first launched in one district as a pilot test. After getting back some good numbers, the company proceeded to a full, brand-wide launch. Since this launch occurred relatively recently, Mikus said that the data is still in flux, but initial information from the program indicates that it has doubled customer engagement.
Given this number, the new program seems like a huge success. In the competitive grocery vertical, Choice Rewards has differentiated GIANT and made it stand out from the pack. Mikus expressed deep pride in this fact, pointing out that it has been her team’s mission to embrace innovation, listen to customers, and adapt to their needs. Clearly, they have done this, and more.
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