The new discount card of Albert Heijn

The supermarket chain Albert Heijn introduced their new discount card last month. So what’s new about it?

Nothing at all.

Well, that is to say: if you personalise your new discount card, making it into a personal discount card, you’ll get three times the benefits, the advertisements say. Three times what benefits, exactly?

“Personal offers like exclusive deals, thank-you gifts, sales and information”, the website tells us. And welcome gift vouchers.

But why do you get three times the benefits if you have a personalised discount card?

Hyperintelligent Jan Hommen, new chairman of the supervisory board of Ahold (owners of Albert Heijn), was asked this question Thursday last week at a students’ meeting. He was still reading up, he said.

And it’s a difficult subject, privacy and data processing. Collecting and interpreting personal information and shopping behaviour. And then showing customers tailored advertisements, and sending them special offers that suit their lives. And their budgets. And their education. To get the money pouring into the bank account of Ahold NV. Surely as a banker, Jan ought to understand that.

That’s why I invite Jan Hommen and his entire supervisory board to join me and have a look together at Tesco, the major British equivalent to our Albert Heijn. Tesco has had a new, personalised discount card for years now, and earlier this week they announced they’d be taking things one step further still, possibly making their discount cards unnecessary in the future: there will be cameras scanning customers’ faces, to determine whether it’s a man or a woman checking out their groceries, and roughly what their age should be. Why? So that they can show their customers tailored advertisements, and gather data about their customer base.

And so, Albert Heijn and their personal discount card are one step behind again. But that’s a good thing, in this case. Compared to a facial recognition scanner, I’d rather have the new personal discount card. At least I can choose not to use it.

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