BOISE, Idaho -- For the first time in its 62-year history, Albertson's here last week said it began offering a Preferred Savings Card at stores operating under the Albertson's banner.
After acquiring American Stores in 1999, Albertson's has been operating two chains, Jewel-Osco and Acme, that already had established loyalty card programs.
Jenny Enochson, spokeswoman for Albertson's, said the success of the loyalty card programs at Jewel-Osco and Acme was a big factor in Albertson's decision to implement a loyalty card program at 100 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"We took the expertise of the existing program [at Jewel-Osco and Acme] and utilized that for this program in the Dallas-Fort Worth area," Enochson said.
She explained that at this time there are no plans to expand this program to other markets.
Enochson said in the past that Albertson's officials were not convinced of the value of such loyalty card programs.
However, she said after experiencing the success of the program at Jewel-Osco and Acme and after conducting research that indicated its customers had a strong desire for such a program, store officials felt the time had come to introduce it.
Albertson's said its consumer research revealed that two out of three primary shoppers of the chain would spend more on groceries if a savings card was available.
Enochson said Albertson's is not making any projections about how much more, on average, its primary shoppers may spend under the new program.
Albertson's research also found that more than 60% of its top competitors' primary shoppers, who do not currently shop at Albertson's, said they would if it offered a loyalty card.
Enochson said Albertson's officials would not speculate on how many shoppers at the 100 stores where the program is being launched may sign up for the card.
Mark Husson, analyst for Merrill Lynch, New York, said he felt one of the reasons Albertson's was making the move was because it needed to.
"I think Albertson's has a problem with loyalty," Husson said. "Consumers are more loyal to both Kroger and Safeway. Anything Albertson's can do to reverse this would be welcome."