The power of customer loyalty: Tesco and healthy eating

Posted By Pinar Dost ⋅ March 11, 2019

Take a look in the average person’s purse or wallet and it’s likely you’ll find at least a few branded loyalty cards. If so, it’s even more likely that one of them is a Tesco Clubcard. Since the scheme was launched in 1994, Tesco’s loyalty programme has become one of the most popular around, now with over 16.5 million active members.

This huge pool of Clubcard holders gives Tesco the ability to record comprehensive sales data on two thirds of the shopping baskets it sells; a constantly-expanding supply of transactional information about the buying habits of its most regular shoppers.

Of course, this data must be analysed before it can reveal actionable insight, and Tesco has invested heavily in this area too. In 2004, it bought DunnHumby, the research company it had previously partnered with to dissect the data. Our very own Quant CEO, Nigel Gatehouse, was Strategy Director at DunnHumby from 1996 to 1999, and a key member of the Clubcard team. His first-hand experience rolling out the programme and developing many of the CRM and loyalty programme approaches still used around the world now, ensured a dedicated focus on consumer behaviour intelligence for Tesco at the time, just as it does for our clients today.

Like any well-devised loyalty scheme, the Clubcard programme generates data that helps Tesco better understand its customers, while also providing them with added value incentives and member perks. Among other use cases, Tesco is using this data to encourage its customers to shop and eat more healthily.

How healthy is your shopping basket?

As Tesco knows only too well, the supermarket is prime territory for influencing what people buy and consume. According to research, 60 per cent of food purchasing decisions are unplanned and made on the shop floor, while a US-based report cited that 66 per cent of supermarket shoppers are looking for ways to boost their health and wellness. It makes sense then that if they know enough about what customers are in the habit of buying, supermarkets can, and should, suggest ways in which they could make healthier choices.

Data recorded by the Clubcard scheme lets Tesco do just that; each card is linked to an individual customer and every time they use it at the checkout, data about what they’ve bought is added to a profile of their buying preferences over time. For regular shoppers (as most Clubcard holders are), it doesn’t take long for patterns and trends to emerge when datasets are examined alongside other sources of information, showing the extent to which a customer’s buying behaviour changes seasonally, in line with annual events and even according to the weather. This enables Tesco to adapt their promotions and sales focus at particular times of the year, or with certain weather on the way, helping them cut food wastage, optimise sales and minimise the amount of stock sat in warehouses.

But how does this help Tesco recommend healthier eating? Through the development of algorithms trained to assess each item for its health credentials, it has given each basket or trolley-load a ‘health score’. This data wouldn’t tell Tesco anything granular about consumers on its own, but within the context of Clubcard, it can link each transaction back to a particular customer, enabling it to send them vouchers with easy health ‘swaps’ they could opt for next time they shop.

A health-focused store layout

Tracking the products Clubcard holders buy, as well as those that could be healthier alternatives, also allows Tesco to plan its in-store product placement. Supermarket product display planners can position items and their alternatives close together, market the healthy option more heavily or even highlight the benefits of swapping with point of sale marketing material.

Combined with the Clubcard vouchers offering them savings on healthier products, shoppers have a financial incentive to eat more healthily and a physical reminder as they’re browsing the aisles.

Examining the relationship between products is another way Tesco seeks to boost sales of healthy produce by arranging them close to each other or offering discounts. If Clubcard shoppers’ baskets reveal that many are buying picnic-type foods, paper plates and plastic cutlery, Tesco can try and add to those baskets with offers on bottled water over sugary soft drinks, or by creating a seasonal picnic-themed area of the store where all items can be found together.

Complimentary offline marketing

Like many supermarkets these days, Tesco offers a range of free monthly magazines to pick up in-store, featuring seasonal trends, recipes, and lifestyle content that promotes its products. What may be different about Tesco’s magazines is the extent to which they are informed by Clubcard member data.

Years of customer behaviour data analysis has enabled it to devise around a dozen different core lifestyle classifications, segmenting its customer base into key groups depending on life stage, personal interest, buying preferences, shopping style and more. Magazine content reflects these classifications, down to the coupons they include and now, the recipes they showcase.

Not only are recipes healthier, Tesco has also included cards with barcodes which, when scanned with a device that has the Clubcard app, automatically downloads the recipe and enters the Clubcard holder in a draw to win a gift card. This gives Tesco a way to link online and offline behaviour, plus data that can reveal which recipes are best-received, and what day of the week and when most downloads occur. This information can then be used to deepen their understanding of customer eating habits, so ongoing health promotion can be further refined.

Unlocking consumer insight through loyalty programmes

The Tesco Clubcard scheme is a great example of what can be achieved with a loyalty programme; the healthy eating initiative is just one way Clubcard data is helping Tesco connect with its customers.

Loyalty programme design and strategy is a key skill here at Quant – we specialise in putting our data analysis expertise to work to create loyalty schemes that offer value for our clients’ target markets, as well as new levels of behavioural intelligence. For example, we helped national perfume retailer The Perfume Shop launch what was, at the time, the most generous loyalty programme in the UK. By gathering and analysing data about members’ perfume preferences, we were able to create personalised recommendations to boost sales and reward members with 5 percent return on purchases.

If you’d like to find out more about how we help our clients launch their own loyalty programmes, please get in touch.


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Categories: Big Data, CRM, Customer Data, Data, Insight, Seize the Data

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