- The Fresh Market unveiled the first loyalty program in its 40-year history in an announcement on Tuesday.
- Called the Ultimate Loyalty Experience, the program offers perks like exclusive savings, digital coupons, purchase frequency programs for select categories and a free slice of cake during a member's birthday month.
- The specialty chain's program comes at a time when grocers are revamping their rewards offerings as they look for ways to lock in more shopper loyalty.
A unique aspect of The Fresh Market's loyalty program is that it aims to create a customized experience not just for shoppers but also for individual stores.
The Club Hub, which lets members earn free items or dollars off favorite items, currently centers on five different categories — meal kit, artisan cheese, panini, floral and coffee — that range across all store locations. For example, a sign at one store says members who spend $75 can get $7.50 off their next purchase as part of the Floral Club.
The grocery chain has localized ones as well, like a Wine Club in its Florida stores and a "Little Big Meal Club" in Boca Raton, Florida.
The Fresh Market said loyalty members will have the opportunity to help pick the next purchase frequency club, potentially by picking the "most in demand request."
To let shoppers know about the program, The Fresh Market has in-store signage with QR codes to make it easy for them to sign up. Shoppers can also register on the grocer's website, text "FRESH" to 31757 or provide their email address at checkout.
The Fresh Market, which has 159 stores in 22 states, said it did extensive research on loyalty and e-commerce programs globally it considers to be the "best" to identify what features, functionalities, technologies, value propositions and use cases make them stand out.
"We took all the best of the best elements from our key learnings and applied them to our brand, our guests and our business model to create the Ultimate Loyalty Experience," Kevin Miller, chief marketing officer at The Fresh Market, said in a statement, noting the grocer custom-built its program to "provide a strong value exchange for our guests."
Miller hinted at more to come with the loyalty program: "[W]e have a few surprises for them in the upcoming months."
The specialty grocer landscape has been fraught in recent years as top chains, including The Fresh Market, have struggled to differentiate from conventional players. The Fresh Market has ramped up efforts to deepen engagement with shoppers, like expanding its shoppable videos to ramp up online engagement. Last year, it began adding dark chocolate samples to curbside pickup orders, launched its first monthly magazine and refreshed its grocery curbside pickup service with touches like personalized thank you notes with recipe suggestions.
On the rewards program front, several grocers have refreshed their offerings recently to go beyond discounts and points to appeal to shoppers. Southeastern Grocers recently added gamified components. Natural Grocers, another specialty grocer, recently updated its program to streamline point and reward accumulation and add more benefits.