Jewel-Osco is going the way of the salmon and swimming against the stream of grocer trends: It’s axing its loyalty cards and opting instead to offer its customers “everyday low prices.” The timing of this is rather interesting as other huge reluctant brands with strong local ties have just started to join the trend — most notably Walgreens, who I spoke to in late October 2012 about joining the loyalty-card fray.
For what it’s worth, people seem to have been responding positively to Walgreens’ program — but are these programs even necessary at all, really?
For retailers, they obviously can offer detailed information on shoppers and their habits that are slightly more difficult to amass otherwise. More specifically: Jewel-Osco will now effectively be in the dark about its customers who pay in cash — but really, they’ll still know who’s buying what and in what capacity anyway because they’re shifting units off the shelves anyway. So it’s not like Jewel-Osco is going blind, here.
In a letter to customers, Jewel said its My Rewards/Preferred Savings Card is no longer necessary, adding:
"We want your shopping trips to be simple, and we think Card Free Savings helps achieve that. ... Great prices for everyone means great shopping experiences, and we're 100 percent focused on providing that at Jewel-Osco."
Keep your eyes out for a forthcoming post on whether such a move makes sense for smaller food retailers like you.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as IFC’s comedy, film, and TV blogger, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.