On Your Side
Personalized pricing offers big savings for shoppers
Linda Darragh likes saving green on her groceries, but doesn't have the time to sift through weekly specials. "I'm not one to pick up store circulars."
Instead, she picks up a personal grocery scanner. As she fills her cart, it delivers custom discounts tailored to her tastes.
"If I can get a bargain, I certainly appreciate getting the bargain," Darragh says.
Think of it as the next generation of loyalty card savings! Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, says this phenomenon is known as personalized pricing, and a growing number of national grocery chains are testing it out. "I might pay a dollar for something, and you might be paying $1.79."
While these exclusive offers can be deeper than in-store discounts, Lempert points out, "Keep in mind you're also going to be experimenting with new, different kinds of products because that offer is not necessarily going to be for what you buy each and every week."
How is personalized pricing determined? Lempert says it's based on info mined from your loyalty card.
"Your zip code, what you've bought before, how often you buy certain products," Lempert says.
And those secret deals aren't all scanner based. Some stores use traditional mailings, e-mail, even smart phone apps. Arlene Putterman works for Stop & Shop. She explains, "When you check out, it will show you what offers you have used and this will then go into a massive data bank and will be stored under your account number."
Which raises the question of privacy concerns.
"For some people, it's a bit intrusive," Lempert says.
The grocers that we spoke with assured us that shoppers are free to opt out.
"We do not disclose any of that information, your name address, or phone number, unless we have permission from you. It's only used for when we have product recalls, which is very important," Putterman says.
Lempert says one question still remains: "Whether or not consumers are going to become very aggravated to know that the person standing next to them has a different price."
Linda feels her special savings are worth every penny. "I'm really surprised on some days when I see that I've saved $15, $20, $30, and that's important!"
Keep your eyes peeled! Lempert says grocery stores are also experimenting with flash sales. That means they'll offer a product at a deep discount for a limited amount of time. Think frozen pizza sold at half price for just two hours.