For the average shopper, supermarket loyalty is a thing of the past.

With price and proximity being two of the most important factors in where people shop, it's usually a case of whatever makes life easier.

Waitrose, a supermarket well known for its middle class ‘essentials’, is attempting to change this attitude with a new focus on digital personalisation.

Creating incentives

Last year the company delved into patterns of consumer behaviour, discovering that if a customer shops online five times, their loyalty is more likely to be retained long-term.

Using this insight, Waitrose worked with Monetate to roll out a campaign in order to ensure customers reached the milestone.

Sending unique codes every time a new customer placed an order, it offered an £80 discount spread over five separate shops, encouraging shoppers to return time again.

The incentive clearly proved too good to resist - Waitrose saw a 24% increase in orders from new and early stage customers thanks to the campaign.

For more on this topic, read: Customer acquisition among online grocers: What’s on offer?

Greater targeting

Money-off motivation has not been the only tactic used by Waitrose of late.  

Last year, data from the ‘MyWaitrose’ loyalty cards was utilised to ramp up personalisation.

During the run up to the Christmas period, the supermarket discovered which card-holders had purchased a turkey the year before. 

By offering a 20% discount to those who were yet to make the same purchase in 2015, Waitrose was able to target shoppers in a unique and personalised way.

The company subsequently saw a 20% uplift in conversion, proving that this type of tailored message is a big hit with regular shoppers.

Empowering consumers

Another example of Waitrose using personalisation to great effect is last year's 'Pick Your Own Offers' Scheme.

Available to MyWaitrose card holders, it allowed them to choose specific items to save money on.

In signing up to the scheme, customers were able to pick ten items with 20% off for a limited time.

With the double incentive of both savings and greater control, this is an excellent example of how to effectively empower the consumer as well as improve general perception of the brand.

As well as building on its online efforts, a similarly personal customer experience is set to be created in-stores.

Having recently announced a partnership with point-of-sale specialists Ecrebo, the supermarket plans to complement its MyWaitrose scheme with tailored offers at the checkout.

By printing out coupons based on the contents of their basket, the customer will be offered instant and personalised rewards.

So, what next for Waitrose?

Now enjoying a period of increased growth, for the moment at least, it appears this is one supermarket that customers are more than happy to return to.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 31 May, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (4)

Richard Hussey

Richard Hussey, Owner at RSH Copywriting

Some interesting examples to help online brands think about how they are using their own data. Possibly also some examples of how you need to guard against statistical and logical pitfalls.

For example, I'm struggling a bit with the logic on the first example. Presumably the people who became regular online shoppers of their own volition did so because the products or the service suited them. The fact that more people used the service five times when they had a discount proves that people like a deal, and not much more. The interesting stat would be to know how many of the shoppers who were cajoled into reaching the magic five shops carried on when there was no discount. Surely increasing new and early stage customers isn't the point.

It would also be interesting to know more about the personalised turkey offer. A 20% increase in conversions compared to what? Compared to a control group of people who bought a turkey the previous year but didn't get the offer? What would have happened if they'd sent the offer to a random selection of customers without considering their purchase history?

almost 2 years ago

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Dominic Penfold, Head of Public Sites at IG

"The company subsequently saw a 20% uplift in conversion, proving that this type of tailored message is a big hit with regular shoppers." This is interesting, but really you're just saying that giving people money off deals increases purchases. What I'd love to know is whether this actually increased long term retention as that was the goal of the test. :)

almost 2 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

Hi both, thanks for your comments.

@Richard, as someone who was attracted to buy online from Waitrose last year due to that deal I can confirm that it does work as an acquisition tool, but admittedly I've only been back a couple of times since. I would assume there would be a big drop off after the deals end, but if a small percentage of those people become regular customers then in the long term it could deliver a decent ROI.

In regards the turkey offer, that stat is admittedly a bit vague. I'll send some questions back and see if I can find out more.

almost 2 years ago

Fi Shailes

Fi Shailes, Digital Manager / Freelancer at Digital Drum

It seems like such an obvious thing to do - tailor vouchers according to what customers might want discounts on (based on past behaviours), let them pick which vouchers they want to take advantage of (by engaging them through mailers) - and then watch as they actually USE them and make the overall purchase. There's tracking and measurements of success available for Waitrose's marketers - and at every stage in the process.

M&S do something similar with the Sparks initiative, but somehow I don't think it's quite hitting the spot. There's something a bit unwieldy about it, compared to Waitrose's offering.

Not all supermarkets are using these tactics and instead, they're sticking to their long-established methods. I wonder whether they'll catch up ---- eventually...

almost 2 years ago

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