Supermarkets still ahead in battle to keep customers loyal

Supermarkets are still the leaders in terms of numbers of adults participating in loyalty schemes.

Thirty-six per cent of adults participate in supermarket loyalty schemes; 22 per cent in petrol schemes; and 16 per cent in DIY store programmes. Only ten per cent of adults use department store loyalty cards, and two per cent are involved with restaurant schemes.

The findings come from Taylor Nelson AGB’s Omnimas survey, which tracks awareness of and participation in loyalty and discount schemes.

Tesco’s Clubcard continues to out-perform other schemes, in terms of both awareness and participation. Tesco’s performance is likely to be enhanced by the introduction of Clubcard Plus, and the fact that the original Clubcard can be used in B&Q stores. Currently just under a quarter of adults over the age of 16 participate in the Clubcard scheme.

One surprise was the continued high awareness of Sainsbury’s Saver Card, despite its withdrawal. This makes the timing of its recent Reward Card launch even more important, and offers a clear advantage to Sainsbury’s over other retailers considering a “cold” launch into the market.

The refocus and relaunch of the Safeway ABC Card scheme resulted in a significant awareness shift from six per cent in September 1995 to 21 per cent in January this year. It has now overtaken previously recorded levels for Iceland and Asda, and resulting in a much stronger competitive position against other supermarket schemes.

In the petrol sector the most notable change has been for Mobil Premier Points (with awareness increasing from 18 per cent in January to 24 per cent in April).

Additionally, awareness of Shell’s Smart Card increased from 24 per cent in September 1995 to 28 per cent in April this year. Continued extensions of the scheme into other outlets may be contributing to these changes. Participation levels are, however, at much lower levels than awareness, with just six per cent of adults participating in the Premier Points scheme.

Another example in this sector of relatively high awareness, despite the promotion having now finished, is Esso Tiger Tokens.

The scheme remains the highest of all petrol loyalty programmes at 41 per cent. No doubt the recent price promotion activity, Pricewatch, has also had a knock-on effect.

In other sectors that are monitored, namely department stores and restaurants, the picture is relatively static with no evidence of major activity.

The DIY sector continues to fluctuate (notably over the Easter period and bank holidays), with increases being recorded recently for all the major players.

In the next wave of tracking, the impact of the latest Sainsbury’s scheme, the Reward Card, will be important

Jane Luker is associate director of Taylor Nelson AGB Omnimas survey

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