Sir; It is great to see Somerfield thinking a bit outside the box with its new loyalty programme ('Now coupons are getting personal', The Grocer, 4 November, p7). Obviously it has worked through the commercial implications of the proposition and put in place a value-added programme that also orients around customer data.

I do, however, wonder how the customer will perceive this programme, as there is a fine line between 'rewards' and 'coupons'. Customers can be put off by the association of penny pinching with coupons so the positioning of the supplier-funded benefits will be key. Will the Somerfield programme generate the level of customer data that programme owners need to make maximum use of it? The success of the programme will also depend on the penetration that a coupon card achieves within its customer base.

Finally, we can debate the level of control that Somerfield will have if it is dependent on brands for support. Programme owners such as Sainsbury's and BP faced the reverse issue when they ceded their customer relationships to Nectar.

Somerfield will need to ensure it has control of its programme, allowing it to use the opportunities it creates as part of its operational strategy, rather than as a short term 'cure all' tactic.