Damian Scott, Giant Eagle’s EVP of retail media and front-end digital, said the regional grocer has been engaged in a “digital transformation” since he started with the company in 2018.
Launching a retail media network, which the Pittsburgh-based food retailer announced this week, is simply the next step in that transformation, Scott told WGB.
“This started as a journey of being able to get in front of our customers more digitally,” he said. “We kept working on that … We kept on our path of ‘how do we engage with customers?’ It really exploded as far as digital engagement over the COVID years. So, we said, ‘Let’s go ahead and lean into retail media.’”
That journey prompted Giant Eagle to create the Leap Media Group, an omnichannel retail media network that is fueled by the consumer data of its 4 million myPerks loyalty members. (The name stands for Loyalty, Experience, Audience and Partners.)
Giant Eagle, which operates more than 470 supermarkets in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana, said it assembled about 30 employees from across different departments in the company to create the retail media network, which began with a soft launch in February.
Leap got its start with Giant Eagle sending out emails on behalf of its brand partners and has expanded to banner ads, multiple points of in-store engagement, text and push messages, and more, Scott said.
“Now we can create more complex journeys and intricate campaigns,” he said.
Over the last decade, retail media has grown into a multimillion-dollar (or more) business for some grocers and food retailers. By 2026, retail media networks are expected to generate $820 billion, according to a report last year from consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
Retailers from Amazon to small grocers have debuted retail media networks in recent years. In February, the Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) partnered with digital circular firm Ideal by Design House on what it bills as the first retail media network for independent grocers.
With its media platform, Giant Eagle intends to focus on greater personalization and segmentation in its marketing offers.
Leap is powered by Giant Eagle’s loyalty platform, Scott said, but the campaigns will not be confined to digital offers.
“We go where our customers lead us,” he said. “We have more and more screens that are going into stores.”
In-store QR codes create a hybrid environment that allows the digital and physical worlds to cross in the supermarket, he added.
While some grocers have partnered with outside firms on their retail media networks, Giant Eagle saw benefits to hosting it in-house, Scott said. Most notably, the grocer can be nimble in changing the program to better serve shoppers and advertisers.
Giant Eagle said it has worked hard to earn three generations of customer loyalty.
“Retail media is another step for us on that journey,” Scott said. “We wouldn’t have the retail media platform without the base of the loyalty program.”