How Sainsbury’s used location to make its marketing ‘ultra personalised’

Sainsbury’s enlisted the help of Aimia to run a campaign that sent customers personalised messages and offers using a bespoke mobile app which boosted both sales and visits.


Retailers have long used loyalty cards to learn more about their customers, offer more relevant promotions and drive up sales. The whole business of CRM over the past 50 years has been focused on serving the right message to the right customer at the right time through the right channel.

What Sainsbury’s wanted to do was make that even more personalised by throwing location data into the mix as well. To do this, the supermarket chain worked with Aimia, using its location data to deliver personalised offers to customers in and around the store on their mobile phones, a campaign that performed so well it won the Mobile and Messaging award at this year’s Marketing Week Masters awards.

The campaign had one key objective: to understand how mobile messaging can enhance the shopping experience. To do that it would deliver contextually relevant messaging to help customers plan their shop and offer reminders of deals they have available and then analyse how people reacted to see how it impacted spend, visits and time in-store.

Additionally, Sainsbury’s would also get data on how customers navigate a store that could be used to inform merchandising decisions.

By combining customer information and location data, Aimia and Sainsbury’s were able to deliver more relevant messages and offers. For example, it could identify customers shopping at a competitor store on a Saturday and send them a win-back offer on Thursday to encourage them to return to Sainsbury’s. Similarly, it could send customers at home an email containing recipe ideas.

Micro-location data was also used to recognise when a customer is outside, entering or walking around a store to trigger offers. That could be combined with time and store data so that the grocer didn’t push an offer for a leg of lamb if that wasn’t stocked in that store, for example, or deals on alcohol before 11am.

Sainsbury’s initially trialled the campaign in its Wandsworth store. To do that, Aimia developed a bespoke iOS mobile app, SmartOffers, and installed 90 beacons. It then recruited 250 customers and created 450 service, Nectar and in-store promotion messages that would trigger in real-time.

For Sainsbury’s there was a suite of dashboards to understand customer journey times and segment data by demographics, segments and loyalty tiers. That enabled Aimia and the supermarket to understand metrics such as dwell time to conversion in-store, aisle-to-aisle flows and the impact of seasonal events for the first time.

Aimia also developed a series of one-second surveys as customers left a store or zone (such as an Argos concession) to understand customer satisfaction levels.

Having trialled the campaign, it rolled out to 20 stores in a regional pilot that lasted for eight months.

Results show that the campaign had high customer appeal, with 62% using the SmartOffers app at least once a week and 51% agreeing that it made them more likely to shop at Sainsbury’s. Two-thirds said they would recommend it to a friend and 96% said they would like SmartOffers to continue.

It also had business benefits. Visits were up 8.2% and sales 6.6% over 12 weeks versus a controlled period.

Hide Comments1 Show Comment
  • Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance 26 Nov 2018 at 11:13 am

    Sigh. Measuring the success by “one-second surveys” in an app, means that the results only reflect the opinions of the people who continue using the app.

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