Want to build a strong shopper relationship?

The Lempert Report
September 02, 2016

According to a survey from C Space, forget about those plastic loyalty cards.

A new survey of 500 shoppers by C Space reveals that “Despite the prevalence of loyalty and rewards programs across the grocery industry, an examination of brand intuition from the customer’s point of view shows that this kind of transactional, financially based approach is inherently limited, unreliable and does nothing much to build emotional connection.” 

The survey, published June 6, finds that loyalty programs “may generate short-term business, [but] consumers will bolt as soon as they have a better option.” 

Julie Wittes Schlack, senior VP, product innovation at C Space, told FoodNavigator-USA that the main problem with relying solely on conventional loyalty programs to connect with consumers is they reinforce a relationship that is purely transactional, which fosters a fickle relationship between consumers and retailers. 

So what does C Space recommend instead?

“In our view, if retailers want to build real loyalty they have to do it through relationships. They have to do it by making their customers feel smart and appreciated and valued and they have to do it by focusing on the values that consumers consider most important.”   

Friendly and helpful employees was one of the top values that consumers consider an important attribute of stores that “get them,” the survey found.

It reports that 41% of respondents said they want consistent customer service, meaning friendly, helpful employees who proactively provide assistance and who value helping consumers as part of their mission and not just as a way to earn a paycheck. 

Exemplary operators ranging from Wegman’s to Hy-Vee to Mariano’s to Trader Joe’s all have known that the key to success is building a work force that cares.