BOULDER, Colo. - Wild Oats Markets here is turning shoppers into company investors by offering dividends. Wild Dividends, that is.
Under a month-long promotion that runs through April 4, consumers can accrue discounts on future store visits by buying specially marked items throughout the store. More than 2,000 products are included.
The goal of the short-term incentive is to increase shopper frequency, said Alison Dewall, Wild Oats' marketing manger.
"We're looking to bring customers back to the store more than they normally would," Dewall told SN.
Wild Dividends replaces most weekly specials. While the company has not decided to make Dividends a monthly promotion, preliminary results show that customers embrace it, Dewall said.
"We're getting great feedback. Customers see it as a reward," she said.
Dividends point levels vary from an average of 50 cents to $2. Among the recent offerings: $1.40 Dividends with the purchase of a 16-count box of Traditional Medicinals tea for $4.39; and 50 cents worth of Dividends with a $2.99 purchase of Wild Oats' private-label storage containers, five-count/entree size.
A handful of higher-value savings are also included, such as $18 worth of Dividends with the $35.99 purchase of a 24-pack case of 16-ounce bottles of Penta purified water.
After checkout, customers receive a Catalina checkout coupon with their total number of Dividends, which act like a cash discount on a future order. Dividends must be redeemed by April 16, and cannot be used for alcohol or gift cards, among other purchases.
Wild Dividends follows another limited-time price promotion the retailer launched one year ago called Wild Bucks, which let shoppers earn points when they purchased flagged products. The points could be redeemed for gift cards good for future shopping trips.
Don Stuart, managing director of Cannondale Associates, Wilton, Conn., a sales and marketing consulting firm, said Wild Dividends could produce higher basket rings from existing customers.
"It's a way to turn selective shoppers into complete shoppers," he said.
This is especially helpful in the natural food industry, whose consumers often cherry-pick certain categories like cereal or produce but do the bulk of their shopping elsewhere.
Jay Jacobowitz, president of natural products consulting firm Retail Insights in Brattleboro, Vt., described Wild Dividends as a sophisticated way of lowering prices. He warned that some customers may see such a program as a form of price manipulation, though.
"Programs like these say to consumers, 'You need to act according to certain rules to get our best price,'" he said.
Short-term incentives like Wild Dividends are used in other variations in the food industry. Ahold USA's Stop & Shop/Giant division, Quincy, Mass., has partnered with manufacturers several times for price incentives that reward consumers who meet certain spending qualifications.
In one holiday program, shoppers who bought $20 worth of participating ConAgra brands over the course of several weeks received $10 off the purchase of a cooked Butterball turkey dinner that included side dishes and dessert.