It’s not a coupon. It’s not exactly a rebate either. Saving money requires the shopper to purchase specific brands, but it’s not necessary to make all purchases at one time, nor even at the same store. Facebook is involved.
The “first fully digital grocery loyalty promotion,” as it’s being called, comes from Pepsi and a digital savings service for groceries called SavingStar. At first, the promotion seems fairly standard: A shopper who buys $15 worth of Diet Pepsi or Pepsi Max gets $5 back.
But this promotion is unusual for several reasons. First, no paper is involved: No coupons to print out or rebate forms to fill out and mail in. Second, the consumer doesn’t need to buy $15 worth of Pepsi products during a single store visit. The cash back is awarded so long as the shopper spends a total of at least $15 worth of the specified products anytime throughout the month of November, and the purchases can be made at any combination of more than 100 participating national retailers, including CVS, Rite Aid, Kroger, and Stop & Shop. Third, getting credit for one’s purchases—thereby making oneself eligible for the cash back bonus—involves little more than swiping one’s current loyalty card at a participating store.
The only other steps necessary are to activate the offer at the Facebook page for Diet Pepsi or Pepsi Max, and to register your grocery and drugstore loyalty card numbers online. After that, your purchases are automatically tracked by SavingStar. Once the $15 threshold is met, shoppers can get the $5 cash back sent to any bank of PayPal account via direct deposit. The $5 can also come in the form of an Amazon gift card, or can be donated to the non-profit American Forests conversation group.
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Why that non-profit in particular? SavingStar is an all-digital operation, and likes to point out that using it as an alternative to traditional print coupons helps saves paper—and trees. The company reports that hundreds of billions of coupons are printed annually, and that 99% of coupons wind up in the trash.
Will this new style of promotion introduced by SavingStar and Pepsi spread? It’s hard to say. Participating is a fairly simple procedure, but many consumers may be reluctant to want to share their store loyalty membership numbers. Also, getting cash back via direct deposit is nice, but not as nice as getting $5 back on the spot.
On the other hand, food manufacturers have to love how this kind of promotion fosters loyalty to its brands, rather than loyalty to a specific retailer. From the consumer standpoint, getting cash back via SavingStar’s automated system is easier than utilizing the classic mail-in rebate—especially because 60% of shoppers never send in the mail-in rebate when they’ve purchased an eligible product.