Can you make the jump from Air Miles to Scène+?

For large supermarket chains, an effective loyalty program is as important as fridges full of milk. The release of flight miles by IGA in favor of Scène+ is therefore not insignificant. But will consumers benefit?

Posted at 6:30am

In the coming months, cashiers at IGA will no longer ask for the famous Air Miles credit card. Instead, you’ll hear, “Do you have a Scene+ card?” IGA’s parent company, Empire, will end its two-decade association with Air Miles. She became a co-owner of Scène+ with Scotiabank and Cineplex Theatres.

The transition will start as early as August in the Atlantic provinces and will end in early 2023.

We don’t yet know when Quebec’s turn will come. IGA does not want to further specify its deployment strategy. We promise to give customers “several weeks” advance notice. Your miles will not go away, but once IGA leaves the Air Miles program, there will be few ways to redeem them. Don’t hesitate to use them.

At the moment, the merits of Scene+ have not been praised by Empire. Nothing has been done to inspire consumer enthusiasm. Empire only issued a statement to shareholders.

Still, communication will be key.

First, because the Scene+ card is not automatically mailed to Air Miles members. Interested parties must apply. It will therefore be necessary to explain to them how to proceed and, above all, to encourage them to take a few minutes to get to work.

Less attractive in Quebec

The level of knowledge of the Scene+ card, which has only existed since last December, is initially low. And its name, borrowing from cinema, is confusing. If the benefits are poorly explained or seem unattractive, you may not be able to sign up. We already have an average of 13.5 customer cards in our wallets. We must convince ourselves of the merits of adding.

This is even more true in Quebec because the Scene+ program is “stronger” in the rest of Canada, says Hans Laroche, loyalty program expert and partner at R3 Marketing, a company specializing in this area.


In addition, Scene+ points are primarily earned at non-Quebec restaurants in the Recipes Unlimited group, such as: Conveniently located restaurants include Montana’s BBQ & Bar, Fionn Macool’s, and Kelsey’s Original Roadhouse. We are aware of the Harveys (54 addresses), East Side Mario’s (2) and Bier Markt (1) brands, but their presence remains very limited. The St-Hubert chain, which also belongs to Recipes Unlimited, does not award Scene+ points.

The same applies to entertainment centers The Rec Room and Playdium: they are absent on the territory of Quebec. And there are no cineplexes anywhere. “In Roberval, Scene+ points aren’t sexy,” agrees Hans Laroche. Luckily, Expedia joined as a rental car and accommodation partner in December.

If you can only earn points for going to the movies and restaurants, it’s not very interesting. What people want is food.

Hans Laroche, loyalty program expert and partner at R3 Marketing

With Air Miles Cash Miles you can reduce your bill at IGA, Jean Coutu and Bureau wholesale.

As expected, it is being announced that Scenes+ points can be redeemed in supermarkets, I have been confirmed.


Image courtesy of Sobeys

In the coming months, IGA’s parent company, Empire, will end its two-decade association with Air Miles in favor of Quebec’s lesser-known Scene+ card.

However, it’s hard to tell if you’ll earn more with Scene+ points than with airline miles. No information has been disclosed that would allow calculations. We can only do simulations.

The two experts I spoke to are confident that a new Scotia credit card will be launched for Empire supermarket customers. And that it will be the focus of recruitment efforts. “For completeness, like PC Optimum, you need a credit card [Loblaw]. If you want to get the best value for money, you need a credit card,” predicts Jean-Maximilien Voisine, founder of the website Milesopedia.com, expert in credit cards and rewards programs.

The duo also believe a gas distributor will be recruited. Again, like Loblaw, connected to Esso. It could be Shell (which offers Air Miles), whose 250 stations belong to Empire.


Scalded consumers

It remains to be seen how the transition will be handled by the co-owners of Scene+. There is cause for concern as the technology hasn’t kept up with the merger of Scotia Rewards and Stage in late 2021. Jean-Maximilien Voisine sums up the situation as follows: “The last six months have been painful. It was catastrophic. Catastrophic. »

Wrong score awarded for two seasons. Also in early June, the credit card bills promised an “adjustment” to the bill… from June. Also, speaking to Scotiabank to have the errors corrected was next to impossible. Lots of Scotia customers burned, that’s for sure.

However, it’s no wonder Empire dropped Air Miles, which is constantly losing partners, most recently Rona and the LCBO, Ontario’s equivalent of the SAQ. As early as 2019, Hans Laroche judged that this program was “at the end of its lifespan”, consumers were unenthusiastic and merchants were frustrated by the difficult access to data. Because let’s not forget: a loyalty program is an excuse to get data about its customers.

According to Hans Laroche, the fact that the IGA is “doing business alongside Air Miles, like giving away stamps, is proof that they are no longer doing the job”. Meanwhile, PC Optimum is a hit and gets 3rd placee Place in the list of top 10 programs by R3 Marketing and Leger. That of Metro, metro & me, occupies the 10th placee Rank.

“You can’t be in retail and not understand your customers if you want to influence them,” believes Hans Laroche. But a customer can eat without using a loyalty card.

Number of members

PC optimum: 18 million

Scene+: 10 million

Air miles: 10 million

Aeroplan: 5 million (in 2018)

metro&moi: 1.2 million

Source: Company documentation

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