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Ingles Markets announced that it is introducing a new "Ingles Advantage" Savings and Rewards Card, which will entitle shoppers to discounts throughout the store; enter customers automatically into contests (such as for a free turkey on Thanksgiving); help them earn computer equipment for schools; and allow them to save money for their kids' college educations.

"This is a new and exciting marketing direction for our company," said Tom Outlaw, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, in a prepared statement. "The Ingles Advantage Card will help us to better reward our loyal customers and enable us to tailor our marketing to each customer's needs."
KC's View:
We hate to be critical even before a program has begun, but the problem we see with this program is that it isn't breaking any new ground - it is just giving away stuff and hoping that consumers will be loyal.

We don't believe that this cuts it anymore. We're not sure exactly what Ingles' customers are looking for, but there has to be some way that the company can display its loyalty to customers beyond free turkeys and some discounts on merchandise.

This is 2003, folks. And we keep seeing announcements for loyalty marketing programs that didn’t seem particularly innovative back in the last century.

This isn’t just criticism of Ingles. If the industry as a whole can't do better than this - connecting shopping habits to customer service and creating a loop that really, really fulfills consumer needs - then the industry is in big trouble.