Tesco uses Clubcard data to help people eat more healthily

Tesco is using the information it has on its 16 million Clubcard customers to track their shopping habits and see what the triggers are for changing behaviours and convincing shoppers to eat more healthily.

Tesco is using Clubcard data, marketing and partnerships to try and influence the choices its customers make in-store and encourage them to make healthier decisions.

Research carried out by the supermarket found that seven in 10 families believe supermarkets can help them make a better choice when it comes to health and nutrition, while 27% agree they get confused about what is healthy and unhealthy. This is as regulations around junk food are tightened and rising figures of childhood obesity dominate the headlines.

Tesco has insight on the shopping behaviour of 16 million people across the UK through it loyalty programme. It has used that data to develop a ‘health score’ for every basket sold at the retailer that allows it to spot trends in what people are buying, how they change with events through the year and seasonally.

It is also using the data to analyse different segments, such as families, and learn what food categories are contributing to health.

“You can measure segments of customers through a health lens as well,” said Tesco’s marketing boss Alessandra Bellini, speaking at the Festival of Marketing last week.

READ MORE: Tesco’s marketing boss on rebuilding trust and why people need brands more than ever

For the first time, Tesco is linking recipe cards in its free monthly magazine to Clubcard to track online to offline behaviour. Scanning the barcode with a mobile device downloads the recipe and also gives people the chance to win a gift card.

“We wanted to track in-store and then link to Clubcard to understand which channel works best, which recipe works best, at what point of the journey and what time of the day and day of the week,” Bellini said. “We tried to really integrate the plan so we can learn from our data and do things better.”

Tesco’s attempts to help people make healthier choices go back a long way. It claims it was the first supermarket to launch a healthy living range in 1984 and the first to put nutritional information on the front of packaging in 2005.

In 2015, it made all its supermarket checkouts sweet-free and over the past two years has given 70 million pieces of free fruit to children in-store.

It is families with children under the age of 10 that have the lowest ‘health score’, according to Tesco. And so that is the segment the supermarket is trying to help – and struggling to influence – the most.

Tesco’s work with charities

Tesco has also worked with a number of national charities to tackle health issues. Earlier this year, it renewed its partnership with Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK to tackle serious illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease through healthy living, with Bellini saying this shows Tesco’s commitment to doing more than raising money.

READ MORE: Tesco – If you need to explain it to customers then your charity partnership will fail

“We started to look at charities in more of a strategic than transactional way,” Bellini explained. “We really wanted a partnership where we looked at the data we have from our customers, the data they have from their patients, and work together to develop an integrated approach to improve the health of our [300,000] colleagues first of all.”

This was the catalyst for Tesco to introduce its ‘Helpful Little Swaps’ initiative, which shows two products side by side with one that is healthier but costs the same amount of money or less.

The data from this allowed Tesco to see what worked well, whether consumers were still confused by what ‘healthy’ looked like, what customers liked to buy, and adjust the mix of promotions accordingly.

To accelerate this, Tesco teamed up with Jamie Oliver in September to develop a number of exclusive recipes that are available in-store and to download online that cost between £1 and £1.50 per portion and take no longer than 30 minutes to prepare.

“Neither of us wanted to have a new testimonial for our advertising,” Bellini said. “It wasn’t a traditional commercial partnership, it was a partnership of intent; it is about creating content to help the nation eat a little bit better.”