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Kroger loyalty program rewards shoppers with free wireless minutes

December 23, 2009

The Kroger Co. has launched a loyalty program that rewards frequent shoppers with free minutes using the company’s own wireless phone service, branded i-wireless.

The Free Minutes rewards program lets customers earn free airtime on their i-wireless phone when they shop at the Kroger family of stores. I-wireless is exclusively available in more than 2,200 Kroger-owned stores nationwide.

“As Kroger continues to expand its presence in the wireless category, we repeatedly heard from customers that they were interested in a program similar to the Kroger fuel rewards program,” said Paul McAleese, CEO of i-wireless, Urbandale, IA.

“This led us to leverage the existing infrastructure and customer familiarity of that program to develop Free Minutes” he said.

“It’s our belief that the Free Minutes program strongly aligns customer loyalty to Kroger with customer rewards on their Kroger i-wireless phone, so much so, that for our best customers, we believe we have the best value in the wireless industry.

As one of the nation’s largest grocery retail chains, Kroger operates stores under two dozen local banner names, including Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food4Less, Fry’s, King Soopers, Smith’s, Dillons, QFC, Baker’s, Gerbes and City Market.

Kroger’s rewards program empowers customers to influence the amount they spend each month on their wireless service. The more they shop at Kroger, the more they will save on their wireless bill.

I-wireless customers that subscribe to a monthly rate plan or a pay-as-you-go plan will receive 20 free minutes of airtime for every $100 they spend in-store.

Customers are notified via text message of their reward in real time, often receiving the message by the time they reach the parking lot following their shopping transaction.

Free Minutes rewards can only be redeemed on a Kroger i-wireless phone and may roll over from month-to-month consistent with the program rules of customers’ selected rate plan.

I-wireless users can register for the Free Minutes program by linking their Shopper’s card, Rewards card number or Alternate ID to their i-wireless phone number at the point of activation, online or by calling i-wireless Customer Care.

The primary means of communicating the Free Minutes program is in-store via merchandising, in-store radio and Catalina register coupons. 

Kroger uses in-store radio to drive awareness that wireless phones are for sale in its retail locations. 

The Grocery chain is using its endcap display to communicate promotions, showcase its phone-lineup and educate consumers about how they can earn Free Minutes when they shop. 

At the register, Kroger use Catalina register coupons to let customers know exactly how many Free Minutes they could have earned on this particular shopping trip. 

“We’re using wireless service as an incentive to increase shopper loyalty and frequency of store visits to Kroger,” Mr. McAleese said.

“As an example, instead of stopping at a convenience store on your way home to pick up a loaf of bread or gallon or milk, we want to motivate consumers with a reward that’s meaningful to them, to ensure the loyalty to Kroger so that they optimize their Free Minutes benefit,” he said.

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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One Response to “Kroger loyalty program rewards shoppers with free wireless minutes”

  1. Howie Says:

    A similar program in the Northeast with Price Chopper customers earning 4% cash back towards Sunoco gasoline is a huge hit. 10 cents off 20 gallons up to 20 gallons per $50 spent at Price Chopper. More valuable than minutes I would say.

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