Tesco CEO reveals plans for ‘personalised digital Clubcard’

Guardian Changing Media Summit: Tesco CEO Philip Clarke has revealed plans for the supermarket’s new “digital Clubcard”, which will allow customers to personalise their loyalty programmes rather than having their options purely dictated by an algorithm.

Tesco Clubcard
Tesco has detailed plans for a new digital and smartphone Clubcard.

In response to a question from Marketing Week at the Guardian Changing Media Summit in London today (18 March), Clarke said the new Clubcard is penned for an Autumn release and will be available on smartphones.

Clarke did not reveal more details about how Tesco plans to give customers the control over their Clubcard accounts but Marketing Week understands they may be able to tailor personalised loyalty programmes such as being rewarded for eating a healthy diet or for buying certain products while preparing to have a new baby.

Some 1 million customers already manage their Clubcard accounts online and Clarke added that customers who shop with the supermarket across multiple touchpoints are more loyal. He also revealed that later this year, or early next, the new Clubcard will bundle services, which could include its Blinkbox Music, Books and Films content offering.

Clarke said: “We live in a world of mass personalisation and the businesses that personalise more will build more loyalty.”

The Tesco chief also revealed the supermarket’s intentions to spend more on earned and owned media. This will include “doing a better job in store” by using more LCD panels and shifting more spend to digital and social channels, although he said this would not be too fast a pivot as “most people are (still) reading newspapers and are influenced by radios in their cars”.

Clarke began his keynote address by outlining how digital is at the heart of Tesco’s strategy to become the “leading multi-channel retailer for the future”, drawing on its acquisition of Blinkbox and the creation of the Hudl tablet, of which 500,000 devices have been sold since last year.

He said such developments build the “credibility” of the Tesco brand, adding that it is now “too late for a digital strategy, every aspect of your business has to be digital”. Tesco has a strategy to “create, innovate and differentiate” in order to stay ahead, Clarke said.

Last month Clarke detailed to investors a ten point turnaround plan to help it keep up with changing shopping habits and claw back market share lost to rivals.

Separately, Tesco’s chief marketing officer Matt Atkinson told Marketing Week at The Economist’s Big Rethink event today that Clubcard was essential to the retailer’s turnaround efforts.    

“We want Clubcard to be something that customers really want and value, rather than it just being a reward for shopping at Tesco. If you think about it as a little helper that helps you get the best of Tesco wherever you are. If you use Clubcard we can aggregate your interactions with us – favourites, usuals – then we can join up the journey in a way that helps,” he said.