PLEASANTON, Calif. — Following in the steps of Kroger Co., Safeway is deepening its commitment to digital coupons with new initiatives involving loyalty cards and cell phones.
The chain's Randalls and Tom Thumb banners have started offering coupons that can be viewed on computers or mobile phones and downloaded to loyalty cards. Savings are automatically deducted at the checkout.
Among some 15 offers from Kimberly-Clark, General Mills and other marketers: 35 cents off Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad; $1.50 off Huggies diapers; and 55 cents off Lucky Charms cereal.
The offers were launched last month as part of a new partnership with AOL's Shortcuts coupon service.
A Safeway spokeswoman was unavailable for comment.
In related news, Randalls and Tom Thumb last month started testing coupons distributed via the Cellfire network. Once users create an account with their loyalty card, they can view coupons via a PC or mobile phone. They then choose which coupons they want, and the offers are automatically downloaded to the shopper's loyalty card. The coupons are redeemed at checkout when the loyalty card is swiped.
Randalls and Tom Thumb are currently offering 21 Cellfire coupons from such manufacturers as General Mills, Unilever and Kimberly-Clark.
Last year, Kroger became the first food retailer to offer Shortcuts and Cellfire coupons. Randalls and Tom Thumb are currently the only other retailers outside Kroger to be involved in both efforts.
Safeway is promoting its new coupon services through “Coupon Link,” a coupon directory of sorts located on the Randalls and Tom Thumb websites.
Initial consumer response has been strong, and Safeway may expand the service, according to Tara Trocki, Shortcuts' director.
“This is a new medium,” Trocki told SN. “It's an opportunity to reach consumers in a new way.”
The coupons are resonating well not only with core coupon users, but also those who historically have not responded well to traditional couponing techniques. These include males, young consumers and higher-income shoppers.
“Not everyone will clip a coupon, but nearly everyone swipes a loyalty card at the checkout,” Trocki noted.
Shortcuts is in discussions with Safeway about including “meal deal” coupons. Meal deals bundle several products needed to make a meal, and include coupons for each product.
Kroger is actively involved in the concept. Its current Shortcuts meal deal is for a salad and baby back ribs. Coupons include 75 cents off a Fresh Express Complete Salad Kit, $1 off Kroger's Private Selection private-label baby back ribs, and 55 cents off Private Selection frozen vegetables.
“All [of Kroger's] meal deals have included private label, which is a good idea since private label is gaining more traction in the market,” Trocki said.
The Shortcuts platform provides one-to-one marketing opportunities because, based on the personal data consumers provide, they can be notified about offers that may be attractive just to them, according to Trocki.