Weis Markets targets seniors, store brands in overhauling loyalty program
- Weis Markets has added many products to its Preferred Shopper loyalty program. Giving customers one point for every dollar spent, Weis is offering deep discounts on key products, as well as gasoline which was already in the program, once customers reach the 100 point level, the company said in a press release.
- These include Weis private label products, bakery items, beef and dairy items. It also includes the preexisting 10-cent-per-gallon discount at Weis Gas-N-Go centers, and participating Sheetz, Mirabito, High's and Carroll Motor Fuels Locations.
- Seniors 60 and over can now receive a 10% discount on Weis brand products every Tuesday. This discount applies to 6,000 Weis brand items including: Weis Quality, Weis Signature Collection, Weis Organics, Valu Time, Full Circle and TopCare.
Weis Markets is responding to customer demand as well as competitive pressure as it enhances its Preferred Shopper loyalty program. Nationwide, grocery program memberships declined last year to 142 million from 188 million in 2015. Weis is attempting to offset it.
Like other supermarket loyalty programs, Weis had promoted its gas discounts, but found that customers like the option of saving money inside the grocery store.
"Our upgraded rewards program now offers more of our customers reward discounts on some of our best-selling products and is particularly helpful to those in areas with limited gas reward options," said Ron Bonacci, Weis' vice president of marketing and advertising. "Our rewards program has always been a tremendous success, but many of our customers wanted the additional option of saving on the products they regularly purchase. Ultimately, we wanted to give them more flexibility in their reward choices."
There are nine items offered for discounts: 19-cent-per-pound bananas; 39 cents for a 20-ounce loaf of Weis Quality Sandwich Bread; 39 cents for a single fresh-baked muffin; 39 cents for one roll of Weis Quality Paper Towels; 99 cents for a 4-pound bag of Weis Quality Sugar; 99 cents for a 48-ounce container of Weis Quality Ice Cream; $1.99 for a 16-count package of Weis Quality American Cheese Singles; $1.99 for a 1.25-pound package of Certified Angus 75 percent lean ground beef, and $3.99 for a gallon of Weis Quality Organic Milk.
While a reduction in margins is part of the cost of a price promotion, observers question whether the Weis' program is generous enough. Other loyalty programs in Weis' part of the country offer more, Aldi prices its private label items 25% to 50% lower than almost any other chains, and Amazon Prime — soon to be available in Whole Foods Market — sets the standard for any loyalty programs in terms of what consumers get for their data. And then there is Giant Eagle, which essentially shares Pennsylvania with Weis.
Weis operates 205 stores in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, with the most stores in eastern Pennsylvania. On the other side of the state, and in Ohio, Giant Eagle operates 229 stores. Giant Eagle also offers a fuel program, but gives customers 10 cents off with every $50 spent. It discontinued its FoodPerks grocery store discounts in 2013, keeping its regularly promoted manufacturer items. But there is very little geographic overlap between Giant Eagle and Weis, which primarily competes with Walmart, Giant Food Stores, as well as some Aldi stores.
It is relatively unusual for supermarkets to focus their loyalty programs on private label items, as much of the cost of these promotions comes from brand manufacturer spending. Ahold Delhaize-owned Hannaford announced My Hannaford Rewards program last fall which is app-based and offers participants 2% rewards on all private label purchases. Drug chains like Discount Drug Mart and Kinney Drugs offer 10% off store brands with their loyalty cards.