Brand promises based on price, products, promotions – and data

Are you still hiding your data from your own customers? If so, it may be time to follow the leaders and open it up to public view. After all, if it works for Asda and Full Tilt Poker, maybe there is something to be said for turning the data warehouse into a data storefront.

Asda is an interesting example of how to deliver on a key brand promise through the use of data. The Asda Price Guarantee tells shoppers that, if their purchases would have been cheaper elsewhere, the store chain will pay them the difference plus one penny. It has always offered a similar guarantee (as have other stores, most famously John Lewis with its “Never Knowingly Undersold” proposition).

Claiming against this guarantee has always involved a lot of work by the shopper. To get paid the difference involved finding a product in another physical store then returning to the branch of Asda where they bought it and showing some proof. The internet has made this easier – anybody working in retail has stories about customers turning up with web page print-offs looking for a price match or money back.

What Asda has done is to link up with and ask the shopper to do a little data entry. This involves taking data from the EPOS receipt, such as store number, transaction number, date and time. The basket information is then retrieved from the data warehouse, mashed up with the online price comparison website’s data and any differences highlighted.

It takes a lot of confidence as a brand to put your promise online in this way. Asda is clearly assuming that its massive buying power means it will rarely have to pay anything back. Instead, it will be able to tell anybody using the price guarantee service that they have already got the best deal possible. Brand promise delivered and proven.

To deliver this kind of data-driven insight out to individual shoppers used to involve a lot of heavy data engineering. Asda’s parent company Wal-mart is famous for achieving the first great retail insight from its data warehouse when it spotted the “beer and nappies” correlation. It is also notable for having resisted any form of loyalty scheme or individual-level data capture, yet is still able to drive its business using data.

Other brands are also recognising that the data they collect is not just an asset for them, it can also be a major benefit to their customers. Full Tilt Poker took the interesting decision last year to allow online poker players to have access to the analytical data warehouse it had built. By giving access to hand history data, players are able to review their play, bets and plan better games, thereby making them more loyal.

Data has long been a tool for business development and gaining competitive advantage. As consumers become ever more data-literate, providing them with the same data and insights is turning into a new brand benefit.

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