ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The 60-store Wegmans Food Markets here used a bit of innovative technology recently to inform customers about a tainted soup recall.
A little more than two months ago, Wegmans Markets issued a general recall notice through its supermarkets and the media on three varieties of store brand cream soup that may have contained bacteria that could cause botulism.
But, then the quick-thinking food retailer did something that may become more common place: It mined its own data, by harnessing its customer database via its Shoppers Club Card program.
Wegmans sent a direct mail postcard to all of its customers who had purchased these tainted soups. Wegmans was able to track the soup purchases by categories it captures when customers use Shoppers Club cards.
Ann McCarthy, spokeswoman for Wegmans, said the postcards were mailed to tens of thousands of shoppers who had purchased Wegmans brand Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Chicken and Cream of Celery soups.
"I can't speak for the industry, but it's definitely a first for Wegmans," McCarthy said. "The decision was made to take this extra notification step because these are such popular products, and it was likely that a large number of our customers might have missed the alerts posted in our stores, and carried by the local media."
Wegmans officials said knowing that many customers buy canned soups but don't use them immediately made the innovative recall effective.
"It's the kind of thing you have in your cupboard and don't give much thought to until you need it for a specific use," McCarthy said. "That longevity gave us an additional reason to send the follow-up alert."