3 On Your Side: Personalized Food Prices

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Soon there may be a sale in aisle three, and it will be exclusively for you! 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds that in the near future, you may be offered a custom price for some of your favorite foods, and the secret to these savings is a swipe of your loyalty card.

Linda Darragh likes saving on her groceries but doesn’t have the time to sift through weekly specials. Instead, she picks up a personal grocery scanner. As she fills her cart, it delivers custom discounts tailored to her tastes. She says, “If I can get a bargain, I certainly appreciate getting the bargain.”

Phil Lempert is known as The Supermarket Guru. He says this phenomenon is known as personalized pricing, and a growing number of national grocery chains are testing it out.

“I might pay a dollar for something, and you might be paying $1.79,” Lempert says.

How is personalized pricing determined? According to Lempert, it’s based on info mined from your loyalty card. He says “Your zip code, what you’ve bought before, how often you buy certain products…”

But Lempert says one question still remains, “…whether or not consumers are going to become very aggravated to know that the person standing next to them has a different price.”

Linda feels her special savings are worth every penny. She says, “I’m really surprised on some days when I see that I’ve saved $15, $20, $30, and that’s important!”

Another thing that supermarket chains are experimenting with is flash sales. That means they’ll offer a product at a deep discount for a limited amount of time. Think frozen pizza sold at half price for just two hours!

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