NEW YORK -- A number of retailers has partnered with a growing national loyalty program seeking to forge a more emotional tie with mothers, one of their most valued customers.
ClubMom, as the program is called, is unique in the sense that its efforts reach beyond the simple price incentives that most retailers use to counter competition in the baby aisle, such as everyday-low pricing and baby clubs offering discounts on select items. "They've spent a tremendous amount on the price side," said Michael Sanchez, ClubMom chief executive officer and co-founder. Now, "they're looking for things to differentiate beyond getting price-competitive."
The club isn't dissimilar from many baby clubs: Shoppers who join the organization, based here, accumulate one point per dollar when they use their loyalty card to shop at ClubMom partner supermarkets, and triple points when they buy Unilever and Coca-Cola products. Leading partner retailers are Ahold USA's Giant Food Stores and Tops Markets, and A&P's Farmer Jack units in the Midwest. Another Ahold property, Bi-Lo, as well as Safeway are testing ClubMom regionally, Sanchez said.
Rewards come not in the form of coupons on future trips, but dinners, movies, spa visits and other services listed in ClubMom's catalog. Special events also pamper hard-working moms: During a "Day of Indulgence" in July, members were treated to manicures, facials and food samples from the partner supermarket and manufacturer. At "Mom's Night Out," scheduled for Oct. 15 in Baltimore, Cleveland and Detroit, members will get free appetizers and roses at local restaurants and the chance to win free groceries from the partner retailer.
"It's kind of a way to reach out to what, in a lot of ways, is our core customer," said Jamie Miller, spokesman for Giant of Landover, Md., which introduced ClubMom in 2003 at its roughly 80 Baltimore-area stores. "With the unique types of events ClubMom puts on, it offers us a way to differentiate us from our competitors."
As is the case with Tops, ClubMom is Giant's only club targeting parents. At Farmer Jack's, it supplements the Baby Bonus Savings Club, which gives members a $20 gift certificate when their purchases add up to $200.
More than the baby aisle is at stake. When moms make club and specialty stores their diaper destination, they fill their baskets with items from other categories. Yet unlike many other retailer baby clubs, ClubMom seeks to appeal to moms of kids of all ages, a group that it contends controls 80% of U.S. personal and household spending. It does that by offering points rewards for most supermarket purchases and through the content on its Web site, where members can find tips and information, Sanchez said.
Retailers augment ClubMom's promotions with their own. Giant pushes the program through circular ads, in-store signs, in-store recruiting, and local newspaper and radio ads, for example. The retailer also offers Giant gift cards as a redemption item.
Miller wouldn't reveal how ClubMom has paid off for Giant, except to say membership growth has exceeded the chain's expectations. However, Sanchez said that for some partner retailers, households with a ClubMom member have consistently spent 8% to 12% more than non-ClubMom households over the past three years. Those increases have translated into incremental store sales, when measured, he said. He attributed the consistent lift to ClubMom's ongoing promotion through stores and targeted offers that are e-mailed and direct-mailed to members.