HARTFORD, Conn. -- Supermarket and gas stations chains are pairing up on loyalty card programs designed to reward their most ardent customers, according to a report by the Hartford Business Journal.
Capitalizing on consumers' use of their loyalty cards, the retailers are partnering to create a convenient and value-added way for their customers to shop for groceries and gas.
Big Y's Silver Savings Club card, for instance, issues silver and gold coins to customers, which can be used on groceries or at nearby gas stations.
"With other programs, you accumulate points [and] you get the savings once a month or you have to use them before they expire," said Harry Kimball, Big Y's director of database marketing. "With ours, you can get them every time you go to the station, so that's really a big difference. We don't have that cumulative option, but with us, you can go more frequently to get more savings."
While Big Y doesn't have its own gas stations like some Stop & Shop and Price Chopper stores do, the chain offers customers several gasoline options. "We've been able to get really good coverage," Kimball said. "About 90 percent of our stores have a station within a couple of miles or so."
While Price Chopper has teamed up with Sunoco and Stop & Shop partners with Shell stations, Big Y works with a variety of companies. The relationships work for both Big Y and the oil companies. "We help drive customers to their stations," Kimball said. "They're out there seeing some of their competitors partnering up with supermarkets, so they have an interest in having a relationship with a supermarket."
With more than 200 stores and more than 60 gas locations in New England, Stop & Shop has offered its customers a discount of 10 cents per gallon of gasoline for every $100 spent on groceries.
"It's about convenience," said Suzi Robinson, a spokesperson for the chain. "There's a lot of value for the customers because you're automatically earning. People are grocery shopping and gassing up all the time -- that's why it makes so much sense to have gas stations right near our stores as well."
Stop & Shop has increased the options for saving by adding about 600 Shell stations to the program, as well as promoting special products in its stores each week that award extra points, according to the report.
Price Chopper's AdvantEdge card also allows customers to earn gas discounts each time they buy groceries. "The fact that the Price Chopper program includes not only groceries and flowers and prescriptions, but [also] gift cards has been a huge advantage for us," said spokesperson Mona Golub. "So, if you spend $100 on a Home Depot gift card, you're earning 20 cents off a gallon with your fuel AdvantEdge rewards."
In addition to its own gas stations, Price Chopper's 127 stores are linked up with 400 participating gas stations, primarily Sunoco, throughout the region.
Golub said a quarter of a million Price Chopper shoppers enjoy their fuel rewards every week, saving upwards of $8 on a 13.5-gallon fill-up.
Irving Oil recently launched its own rewards program at 18 participating Connecticut locations. Irving's card rewards customers with 10 cents off per gallon for every $200 in fuel purchased.
"Consumers really expect value, and they deserve to be rewarded for their loyalty," Irving Oil spokesman E.J. Powers told the Hartford Business Journal. "Our program couldn't be any easier."