THE CLARUS Blog

How The GIANT Company is Deepening Customer Relationships With Its Loyalty Program – featuring Emily Mikus [Interview]

Eighty-three percent of consumers visit between four and nine different chain stores each year to purchase their groceries. And consider that just 1% of consumers say they’re loyal to a single retail grocery location.

That’s one of the reasons why officials at The GIANT Company launched their revamped GIANT Choice Rewards loyalty program last year.

Company officials wanted to give their customers more and they did.

And early feedback on the program has been nothing but positive, according to Emily Mikus, Director of Loyalty & Shopper Marketing, The GIANT Company.

Founded in 1923 in Carlisle, PA, The GIANT Company has 186 stores (inclusive of GIANT, MARTIN’S, and GIANT Heirloom Market) in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.

We recently caught up with Emily to learn more about the new program and the company’s customer-centric focus.

 

Jim Tierney: Can you talk about the overarching goals behind the launch of the GIANT Choice Rewards loyalty program, and how it has progressed?
Emily Mikus
Emily Mikus: The launch of GIANT Choice Rewards is all about better meeting the needs of our customers — all of our customers, not just some of them — by offering a rewards program that is available in all of our stores, with a variety of ways to engage, and a variety of rewards so that all customers can participate in the most personally relevant way to them.

The introduction of GIANT Choice Rewards builds upon our already-successful Gas Extra Rewards program by providing customers with new ways to increase their savings through personalized offers on products they already buy and giving them new ways to redeem their points.

It’s all about inclusivity and giving our customers the power of choice, all at their fingertips, through the GIANT or MARTIN’S app.

In the first three months since launch, we are seeing tremendous engagement, with nearly 20% of our customer base engaging with our new, digital benefits.

Customers are excited about all the different reward options and, from their feedback, they’ve told us they appreciate that we’re helping them make the most of their budgets.

Our key focus for 2020 is all about educating all our customers about the value our new, digital benefits have to offer to continue to build upon the strong growth in participation we’ve already seen to date.

 

Jim: The GIANT Company has won several awards recently, including three at the Loyalty360 Customer Expo, along with being named Retailer of the Year by Supermarket News. How has The GIANT Company created its successful customer-centric culture and what is entailed in maintaining it?

Emily: Our previous loyalty program had been an integral component of our business since its inception in 2000, but we knew there was an opportunity to deepen our connection with families by customizing their rewards.

We knew we had an opportunity to enhance that program, not out of necessity, but from the desire to give our customers more.

GIANT Choice Rewards now gives our customers more of what they’ve been asking for – choice – and provides us with a new way to meet our customers’ evolving needs, uniquely designed with today’s families in mind.

But for us, enhancing the basics of our program isn’t enough.

By continuing to listen to our customers and embracing innovation, we are constantly evaluating ways to elevate our offerings to meet our customers’ changing needs.

 

Jim: Can you talk about how The GIANT Company caters to its loyal customers and how that is a competitive differentiator for the company?

Emily: Personalization and inclusivity are a priority for us, in all that we do, but especially loyalty.

We heard from our customers that they wanted to save more with us, that they wanted more choices for how and when they could be rewarded, and that they wanted more reliable technology to deliver those savings and choices.

So, that’s what we worked to solve and that led to the creation of GIANT Choice Rewards.

Personalized offers and the ability to choose when and how a customer uses their points creates a customized and personally relevant experience for each of our customers, which sets us apart from other loyalty programs.

Looking to the future, we’ll continue to look for ways to further differentiate our loyalty program from others in the industry, offering personalized offers and customized rewards whenever, however they shop with GIANT.

 

Jim: Trust is a huge component of customer loyalty. How does The GIANT Company build trust with its customers and create sustainable two-way relationships?

Emily: For us, it’s all about understanding our customers better than any other retailer and providing her with quality products at great prices, services, solutions, interactions, and a sense of community so that she knows we can deliver on everything she needs, every single day, so she never has to think about going anywhere else to fill her family’s table.

At GIANT, we’re continually seeking ways to deepen our relationships with customers, and I believe it is this approach of putting the customer at the heart of everything we do that sustains the loyal relationships we have with our customers.

 

Jim: How does The GIANT Company leverage social media and what impact does it have on customer engagement?

Emily: Social media allows us to have a two-way dialogue with our customers, which we use as an opportunity to help her overcome the challenges of grocery shopping and meal planning for herself and her family.

In addition, we’ve been creating content that brings awareness to all the ways our customers can save using GIANT Choice Rewards, allowing her to optimize her budget in a way that works best for her.

We also have a community management team dedicated to answering questions, including those about the new program. We also get valuable customer feedback on GIANT Choice Rewards that helps us continue to grow and evolve the program in ways that allow us to always puts our customers first.

Regardless of the topic, we recognize that the opportunity to interact with our customers on social media can be a fleeting moment, so we approach each opportunity with integrity and authenticity because we want our customers to have the same experience with us online as if she were to engage with one of our helpful team members in one of our stores.

 

Jim: Emotional connections are so important today in creating loyalty. Can you talk about The GIANT Company’s approach to this?

Emily: GIANT is passionate about connecting families and creating healthier communities, and, in so many ways, families and communities come together around food.

It’s about knowing our customers, understanding their needs, and offering solutions that help make their lives a little bit easier. Our customers today are busier than ever before; they are busy families trying to make it all work.

We have made a commitment to meet the needs of how our families live now and that means understanding them and connecting with them – personally – to meet their needs.

We want them to know that they can shop with us on their terms, in store or online, getting the best prices and being personally rewarded for being our customers.

It boils down to bringing our customers a personalized and reliable, seamless digital experience to meet them wherever, however they’re shopping with us. We have an obligation to our customers because what we provide is so important in life and that builds relationships on a truly emotional level.

 

Jim: What do you see as the biggest challenges in retail connected to customer engagement?

Emily: Retail, especially retail grocery, is a crowded space and we’re facing steep competition from traditional grocery stores, mass retailers, and online competitors.

So, it’s getting them to choose us as their omnichannel retailer of choice for grocery and household needs. We’re investing significantly across our business, both in our stores and our ecommerce business, to ensure we’re not only adapting to our customers’ needs but anticipating and exceeding their expectations.

Last year, in addition to introducing GIANT Choice Rewards, we launched our new ecommerce brand, GIANT DIRECT, unveiled a new pharmacy app, and piloted frictionless checkout and an augmented reality experience in select stores.

All of these are examples of how we are working to engage with our customers through innovation and technology, and that will continue to remain a focus area for us in 2020.

 

Focus on Your Customers and Good Things Will Come

Emily offers some key insights about The GIANT Company’s approach to customer loyalty.

GIANT Choice Rewards was created with the sole purpose of better meeting the needs of all customers through a loyalty program that is available in GIANT Food Stores, with a variety of ways to engage, and a variety of rewards.

The program is about inclusivity and giving customers the power of choice through the GIANT or MARTIN’S app.

In the first three months since launch, company officials saw tremendous engagement, with nearly 20% of their customer base engaging with new, digital benefits.

Customers have offered very positive feedback, thanking company officials for all the different reward options.

The company’s focus for 2020 is about educating all customers about the value in the program’s new, digital benefits.

Emily said company officials enhanced its previous loyalty program “not out of necessity, but from the desire to give our customers more.”

Shouldn’t that mindset be at the heart of every loyalty program?

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