‘We had to make sure it didn’t fall on its arse’: How Tesco revolutionised loyalty with Clubcard
The Inside Story: In the first of a new series, Marketing Week looks at how Tesco Clubcard transformed retailing, shopping and marketing forever, as told by the people who were there at its conception.
When Edwina Dunn and Clive Humby were approached by Tesco about launching a loyalty card in 1994 they were told in no uncertain terms not to get excited. Tesco was adamant this was a one-off – the company didn’t use consultants, it just needed a little help.
However, Tesco would in fact need a lot of help and over the course of the next 16 years the duo would be central to building the UK’s first supermarket loyalty card, Clubcard, which would irreversibly change the marketing landscape for retailers, brands and customers.
But first the couple got to work with their data analysis company of 30 people, Dunnhumby, crunching the numbers. In three months they had a quote: £250,000 over 10 weeks would be all they needed to run the trial – significantly less that Tesco’s own £50m in three years estimate.
They presented their case to Tesco’s Grant Harrison, who was leading on Clubcard, but before they’d finished the meeting it became clear they were going to have to take it to the top.
The day they presented to the board has now become a legendary moment for Dunn and Humby. After they had finished a “deathly hush” descended on the group of executives.
Humby recalls: “Everyone was waiting to break the silence and suddenly Tesco’s chairman, Lord Ian MacLaurin, said, ‘Well, this really worries me because you seem to know more about my business in three months than I’ve learned in 30 years’.”