Ahold is an international retailer that operates supermarket chains in various countries, amongst which Albert Heijn (Netherlands) and Giant Food Stores (United States), in which they implemented BonusCard programs, respectively introduced in 1998 and 2000. Both cards are required to receive discounts, but while the AH card can be kept anonymous, Giant card holders have to reregister their card, giving their full name and home address every fall, to avoid deactivation. It appears that the amount of personal information required in these programs is directly related to the discounts that can be obtained. The more information is required, the more discounts are awarded.
Whereas in US, customers’ privacy concern seems relatively low when the BonusCard was just introduced it faced active protests. These ranged from mass e-mailings to Giants then CEO, to online BonusCard swaps where people could exchange their cards’ barcodes. This probably has to do with the many advantages of the card, which does not only give discounts but which through the A+ school rewards program also donates 1% of the total purchase price of each customer to a school of their choice. On top of that, the card also gives significant discounts on gas, up to $2.20 discount per gallon (which amounts to a 60% discount) at Shell.
The Albert Heijn’s customers received the BonusCard with more suspicion. Of the 10 million new BonusCards that were handed out since October 2013, only 2.5 million were activated online. Each customer receives discount if they have a card, but if they link this to their e-mail address they can also view the groceries they have purchased in the past, which of these are on promotion, and receive personalized promotions. Entering further personal details is not required.