Esso Changing Loyalties: Now PC Optimum, Drops Aeroplan

March 13, 2018 Updated: March 13, 2018

Loblaw Companies Ltd. has announced it has signed a deal with Imperial Oil. This means the rewards program at Esso gas stations across the country will change from Aeroplan to PC Optimum.

By the summer, “PC Optimum members will be able to earn points at more than 1,800 Esso stations on eligible fuel purchases, convenience store products and car wash services.” Loblaw announced in a press release March 13.

Loblaw says the deal means their PC optimum points will be more widely available.

“Expanding our relationship with Imperial means our members can now earn PC Optimum points in more than 4,500 locations across the country,” said Jim Noteboom, Loblaw’s Senior Vice President, Loyalty.

For Imperial, it means they are changing their customer loyalty program to work with Canada’s largest food retailer.

“This is an exciting collaboration that demonstrates Imperial’s continuing commitment to investing in product innovation and industry-leading marketing and reward programs.” said Jon Wetmore, vice president, Imperial Downstream.

Before the new deal, Imperial Oil used Aeroplan as their Esso customer loyalty program, which is owned by Aimia Inc.

Aimia Inc. sent out their own email to their members about the change, stating that Esso, who they have worked with for 14 years, “will no longer issue Aeroplan miles.”

“As a valued Aeroplan member, we want to keep you informed about the latest program news. After May 30, 2018, Esso stations will no longer issue Aeroplan miles. You can find answers to any questions you may have by visiting our FAQ at any time.”

It noted that up to 1.5 miles for every dollar spent will continue to be earned when using Aeroplan-affiliated credit cards for purchases at any retailer, including Esso.

Aimia said it is working on a promotion to earn more miles with existing partners and developing a strategy for how the program will change once the long-term partnership with Air Canada ends in 2020.

Cheryl Kim, Aimia’s vice-president of corporate reputation and public affairs, said Esso is not a material contributor to Aimia’s financial results and won’t affect the company’s financial guidance or strategy.

“The number of miles you earn on any particular transaction is pretty low so it’s really not financially a big deal,” she said in an interview.

Drew McReynolds of RBC Dominion Securities said Esso accounts for an undisclosed fraction of the 10 to 12 percent gross billings from non-financial and non-Air Canada partners.

However, the minimal financial impact doesn’t convey the overall effect on Aeroplan as it prepares for the departure of Air Canada.

“The optics of any accumulation partner defections between now and 2020 are negative in our view, making new Aeroplan partner announcements between now and 2020 that much more critical to stem changes in member behaviour,” he wrote in a report.

The PC Optimum program was launched earlier this year when Loblaw brought together the PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum programs.

With files from The Canadian Press