Catalina Marketing Updates Data Offering, as Competition Heats Up

Supermarket promotions firm Catalina Marketing has unveiled a new way for retailers to use the Internet in launching promotions.

The St. Petersburg, Fla. company’s Retail Direct Online data collection service is aimed at retailers providing loyalty cards — for instance, offering consumers a way to build up points for every purchase. Those points are typically redeemable for discounts, special offers or other incentives.

Using RDOL, a retailer can track purchases and reward customers for shopping at its store or at its Web site. New enhancements to the service glean consumer information and segment customers, enabling retailers to create promotions that target specific customer subsections.

For instance, a retailer can determine which brands are most popular among frequent, high-paying customers, and price those accordingly. Alternatively, a marketer can use customer data to learn which products aren’t selling well to a particular demographic, and promote those products with discounts or added value card points.

Because RDOL processes data as customers’ purchases are scanned at checkout, both the loyalty element and data collection are invisible to in-store users.

“Retail Direct Online is just one more option that Catalina Marketing provides in its network of marketing solutions,” said Steve Phillips, vice president of technical solutions for Catalina Marketing. “Through RDOL, retailers can integrate traditional mass marketing techniques with targeted, customer-specific applications to build a better relationship with their customers.”

Such applications are becoming increasingly common as offline retailing, data management and promotions meet the Internet. Catalina Marketing features several other products along the same lines, such as an online coupon site — ValuPage — where consumers can print out receipts for local store discounts, and a fully outsourced loyalty card program for offline/online grocery retailers.

Other players are making inroads into the field as well. CoolSavings.com, for one, is moving its online loyalty and couponing services offline. It aims to do so through a deal it inked in December with Asset Solutions, a subsidiary of Acosta Sales and Marketing and a Catalina competitor.

San Francisco-based MyPoints has been busily revamping its offline offerings, following the acquisition of offline consumer rewards firm Alliance Development Group in January 2000, rolling out brick-and-mortar products for clients like Kroger and Staples.

Netcentives, through its new Retail Rewards program, also is making efforts at moving its largely Web-centric loyalty business offline.

As it expands its online offerings, in Catalina Marketing’s favor, remains its foundation in the offline world. While arguably swifter, its three largest Internet competitors are hampered by the dot-com breakdown: with high cash burn rates and sagging public valuations, Catalina’s Web-based rivals are approaching “convergence” deals as less a marketshare grab than simply a way to stay alive.

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