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Air Miles faces turmoil after Sobeys and Safeway pull out of program

The long-running Air Miles rewards system might face turmoil after one in every of its solely remaining nationwide grocery chains withdrew from this system, based on consultants in Canada’s loyalty factors business.

In early June, the Canadian grocer Empire Firm Ltd. introduced it will change loyalty applications to Scene+, finest identified for its acceptance by Canadian film chain Cineplex. Empire owns Sobeys, along with Safeway, Foodland, some IGA shops in Canada, FreshCo, Wants, Thrifty Meals, Les Marches Custom, Rachelle Bery and Lawtons Medicine.

The change will happen between August 2022 and the primary months of 2023, with Sobeys turning into a one-third co-owner of Scene+ alongside Cineplex and Financial institution of Nova Scotia.

Business watchers say it is a change in Canadian habits that Air Miles could battle to recuperate from after years of buyers withdrawing the acquainted Air Miles bank cards at shops comparable to Safeway and Sobeys.

Ricky Zhang, founding father of Prince of Journey, a web site that tracks and compares journey rewards methods, known as Sobeys’ divorce from Air Miles “a blow” to the rewards program. (Submitted by Ricky Zhang)

“To say that is even the ultimate nail within the coffin is perhaps a bit of dramatic, nevertheless it would not be too far off,” mentioned Ricky Zhang, founding father of Prince of Journey, a web site that tracks and compares rewards methods. journey to Canada.

“The lack of the Sobeys and Safeway partnership is really a blow, and it is simply the newest in a collection of blows they’ve suffered over the previous few years,” Zhang mentioned. These blows embody the lack of the Liquor Management Board of Ontario and Lowe’s {hardware} shops from the Air Miles community in 2021. As well as, Staples Canada will now not provide Air Miles beginning in July 2022.

For those who like 20 bonus Air Miles along with your BBQ sauce, you are out of luck after March 2023 – Sobeys and Safeway will cease providing Air Miles throughout the nation by then. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

In line with Zhang, Air Miles has been one of many weaker choices within the Canadian loyalty market over the previous few months, and these developments aren’t going to assist issues.

“Air Miles, final 12 months, tried to rebrand itself and give you an up to date flight rewards redemption system so individuals might use their Air Miles,” he mentioned in an interview with CBC Radio. . Value of life.

“He did not appear so as to add any further worth in comparison with earlier than. And so I discover this system is sadly in a little bit of a stagnant state.”

Air Miles dad or mum inventory practically halves

It isn’t simply observers who say Air Miles is in hassle with out Sobeys. The markets reacted badly to the announcement.

After information broke that Sobeys and its different manufacturers can be exiting Air Miles, the corporate’s inventory worth plummeted greater than 40%.

Though there have been vital swings in lots of inventory markets within the days following the announcement of Sobeys, Air Miles’ dad or mum firm inventory, which trades as LYLT on NASDAQ , has not risen and fallen with common developments within the days since. The inventory fell after Sobeys and Safeway pulled out and stayed the place it was.

For those who’re already an Air Miles collector, I feel the long run seems dimmer than shiny.– Ricky Zhang, princeoftravel.com

In line with inventory filings and press releases from Air Miles’ dad or mum firm, Loyalty Ventures, Sobeys accounted for roughly 10% of the dad or mum firm’s earnings in 2021 (earlier than curiosity, taxes, depreciation and amortization).

Sobeys shops, together with Safeway and its different manufacturers in Canada, generated greater than C$21 million in income for Air Miles’ dad or mum firm final 12 months, based on calculations taken from annual monetary statements.

The corporate doesn’t simply promote information, however factors itself

Rewards methods comparable to Air Miles work by promoting factors to retailers, which they distribute to clients as an incentive to buy. The reward firm makes use of the cash from the sale of those factors to buy the rewards.

Cineplex and Scotiabank are bringing Sobeys into the Scene+ loyalty program and promising greater than free motion pictures to their clients as soon as it rolls out to grocery shops nationwide by 2023. (Radio Canada)

Though Sobeys didn’t conform to an interview with Value of lifehe advised The Canadian Press that the grocery chain did not need to pay for its co-ownership standing within the Scene+ program due to the “alternative” it supplied.

“They’re more likely to take a bigger share of the general revenue,” mentioned Erin Murray, vp of promoting at Factors, a know-how firm that works with dozens of rewards corporations world wide, together with Air Miles, Aeroplan, IHG and Hilton Honors. .


LISTEN | Hear the rewards enterprise first-hand at Value of life.

Value of life8:47Is that this the start of the tip for Air Miles?


In line with Murray, when an organization has its personal rewards program (or at the very least a big a part of it), it will possibly be sure that all the pieces this system does aligns with the retailer’s targets as a substitute of getting to cooperate and negotiate. with an exterior affairs.

A blonde woman sits in front of a blue background in a business portrait.
Erin Murray, vp of promoting at Factors, an organization that gives assist to dozens of rewards corporations, says Sobeys could also be attempting to higher management its clients’ expertise with loyalty and rewards applications. enhance its income. (Submitted by Erin Murray)

“They’re transferring in with a stake within the property… They ensure that nonetheless [loyalty program] members are rewarded is fully in keeping with their total targets,” Murray mentioned.

Air Miles says the sky is evident

For its half, Air Miles mentioned it was assured it might flip this right into a “development alternative” and careworn in public statements that Metro grocery shops in Ontario would nonetheless settle for the rewards card.

The corporate mentioned clients can earn Air Miles at a whole bunch of shops that will not settle for the cardboard in particular person via a web-based purchasing portal. He additionally mentioned new offers have been being developed, however wouldn’t present particulars to CBC Radio.

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In an interview, the corporate mentioned Value of life that the departure of Sobeys might make room for an additional grocery retailer or chain to affix this system. Nonetheless, with different main grocers comparable to Loblaw or Save-on-Meals providing their very own inner level methods, it is unclear which retailers would stay offline, so to talk.

“We’ve got many fascinating conversations with many manufacturers that haven’t been in a position to interact with our fashions previously,” mentioned Rachel MacQueen, senior vp of promoting at Air Miles.

Air Miles stay out there on main bank cards, comparable to these from BMO and American Categorical.

“Our bank card companions allow you to earn miles wherever you store. So it doesn’t matter what grocery retailer you store at, whenever you pay with an Air Miles bank card, you may earn miles,” mentioned MacQueen.

Air Miles didn’t have particulars of latest choices in a “growth pipeline” to exchange Sobeys. Ten p.c of its dad or mum firm’s income in 2021 was tied to the take care of Sobeys. (air miles)

The Air Miles govt additionally identified that the corporate presents an vital profit to its member retailers: cross-promotion to new clients.

For instance, somebody who wants gas for his or her automobile but in addition makes purchases at an unrelated enterprise that provides Air Miles may even see a Shell fuel station rewards provide with out having been to Shell.

“So collectors who do not at the moment store at Shell… Shell can now provide clients offers they do not at the moment have with them. An incentive or motivation to say, hey, come and fill up at Shell and get miles,” MacQueen says.

With ten million collectors, based on MacQueen, this potential will not be negligible.

Ought to I change to Scene+?

Both means, Sobeys and its affiliate banners have certainly sneezed at this potential. Air Miles is not going to be awarded at Sobeys shops in Atlantic Canada till August 2022, with the remainder of the nation following go well with by the tip of March 2023.

The Scene+ program is coming to Sobeys and Safeway shops in Canada. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Canadians who love their Air Miles will not have to fret about shedding them at this level, as a result of the reward system is not going anyplace.

In its place, the Scene+ program via Sobeys guarantees extra rewards than motion pictures, like journey. In an emailed assertion, Scene+ co-owner Scotiabank mentioned free groceries will ultimately turn into an choice as nicely.

However reward maximizers like Zhang level out that should you have been counting on groceries to save lots of up factors for a free dream trip, you may need to rethink the way you get your free stuff as a result of it might take you a large number longer to get sufficient. factors with out weekly journeys to the grocery store. .

Several mixers are displayed on the Air Miles reward miles website, ranging from 1,850 miles to 4,150 miles in cost.
If you do not have sufficient miles in your dream journey, there are at all times dream units. (rewards.airmiles.ca)

“For those who’re already an Air Miles collector, I feel the long run seems bleaker than shiny,” Zhang mentioned.

These on the lookout for the very best bang for the buck say that should you’re a number of thousand miles away from that journey to Hawaii, however nonetheless received your miles at Sobeys, you won’t be capable to hit your purpose in your journey timeline. ‘origin.

If you wish to go by jet, you’ll have to earn much more and rapidly — by August in case you are in Atlantic Canada.

Or you’ll be able to at all times accept a blender as a substitute.


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