Metro just launched ME. Scène made its debut at the Quebec IGAs in March. More determined than ever, the brands are offering prices on certain items for members and… non-members. With programs that aim to keep customers “captive,” it would be more beneficial in these inflationary times to praise infidelity, say experts consulted.

A pint of blueberries displayed at $3.99, for members of the MOI program. Consumers who do not have their card must pay an extra $1 to buy the small blue fruits, we could see recently in the Metro flyer. Same phenomenon at IGA, where the watermelon cost $4.99 for Scene members, compared to $5.99 for those who do not participate in the program. Offers of the kind, there were several in the circulars of the two signs which fight to attract customers in their stores.

“We are going to see more and more techniques and means by which the large chains will try to make their customers more captive, observes Christian Désîlets, professor of advertising at Laval University. In the food market in Quebec, this is the first time I’ve seen this,” he adds, referring to the lower prices reserved for members.

If the objective is obviously to convince more consumers to have their points card in their pocket, the method is questionable to say the least, believes Caroline Tremblay, director of human resources and operations at Milesopedia, an information and references on the various loyalty programs. “It’s a bit like joining under duress,” she illustrates.

The prices reserved for consumers who do not have a membership card are still very attractive, defends Alain Tadros, vice-president of marketing at Metro, interviewed on the occasion of the launch of MOI. “Our banners have to be competitive,” he stresses. The food and pharmacy market is competitive. We fight to have customers, to keep our customers. The non-member price must be a competitive price. »

“The idea is to be as aggressive as we were before, but to come in with an extra tool…”

Despite everything, Christian Désîlets persists and signs: the consumer will gain on the exchange if he shops left and right, according to the discounts of the week, instead of shopping in a single store. “In the [current] context, infidelity is to be praised. It is always a mistake to concentrate purchases from the same merchants, especially in the world of food where the market is controlled by only a few players. »

“Let consumers shop and shop,” he advises. That they only buy the specials. This is what hurts the grocery stores the most. And that’s the behavior that loyalty cards are trying to break, because it’s a behavior that benefits the consumer too much, from a business perspective. »

His suggestion: “Get all the loyalty cards from all the companies and keep shopping to the fullest.” It’s the best thing to do. »

A principle also shared by Caroline Tremblay. “No matter what business we prefer, we have to go somewhere else. You can also do a double hit by accumulating points on the different loyalty cards and combine with a credit card which has a faster accumulation in groceries. You can browse everywhere. »

Despite everything, the brands claim that consumers benefit from joining their program. Metro, which has just launched its program, replacing Metro

For what ? “We made it evolve, answers Alain Tadros. We have the ambition to become the largest loyalty program in Quebec. The new program is present in some 900 stores across the Metro, Jean Coutu, Brunet, Première Moisson and Super C banners.

“How you accumulate is the most important thing,” adds Tadros. For every dollar spent, the customer gets 1 point. »

“In addition to having access to several choices, consumers can now earn points when they shop at IGA supermarkets in Quebec and New Brunswick, at Rachelle Béry, in Les Marchés Tradition and online at Voilà par IGA, and then use them for their purchases at the grocery store,” said Carl Pichette, vice-president of marketing in Quebec, in March, when Scene arrived at IGAs in the province.

At the supermarket, 1,000 Scene points can deduct $10 from your grocery bill. At Metro, 500 points saves $4. It is now up to consumers to decide if they remain in an exclusive purchasing relationship or if they allow themselves to go out of their way…