retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Hartford Courant reports that Big Y Supermarkets is unveiling a new discount program called the ‘Silver Savings Club” that “works like a hybrid between a club membership and traditional store enticement, an innovation that highlights the fierce competition for grocery shoppers ... For a $20 annual charge, Big Y customers can buy a membership that gives them even deeper discounts on select items.”

"It's like a warehouse store within a traditional store program," Harry Kimball, Big Y's director of database marketing, tells the Courant.

The paper explains: “As part of its free loyalty program, Big Y rewards frequent shoppers with ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ coins that can be redeemed for additional discounts on specific items ... Now consumers who opt to pay the $20 annual fee for the store's club card can take advantage of an unlimited number of ‘silver coin’ specials ... One of the reasons Big Y is introducing the club card is that customers forget to bring their coins or don't have enough reward coins to obtain all the discounts they want.”
KC's View:
I think the word to describe Big Y’s attitude toward this is cojones.

And I mean that as a high compliment.

This is a tough one, because Big Y is trying to do something that I’ve never heard of a traditional food retailer doing before. Heck, most food retailers don’t even like to give their top shoppers better discounts than the cherry pickers because they are afraid of being accused of treating people differently. But Big Y isn’t just doing it, it is charging people for the privilege.

There could be a backlash. On the other hand, maybe we’ve gotten to the point where customers will buy this. After all, we pay for memberships at warehouse clubs. We pay Amazon for “Prime” memberships that create the illusion of free shipping. More of us are paying for Internet access to newspapers and magazines. And many people are willing to pay a little extra to get more legroom on airplane flights.

I admire the impulse. If it works, we could see a lot more of this.