Waitrose aims to restore trust in offers with personalised deals

Waitrose is hoping to restore customer trust in deals and promotions with the launch of an ‘industry-first’ personalised offers scheme that offers customers 20% off the top 10 items they buy the most.

The ‘Pick your own offers’ scheme allows customers to select 10 items from a list of nearly 1,000 including fresh food, branded products and Waitrose own brand. The 20% discount comes on top of any promotions – such as two for one – that might be running as well as Waitrose’s price matching scheme.

Speaking at an event today to announce the launch, Waitrose’s managing director Mark Price said there is no minimum spend and that customers could just come in and buy reduced items. However he said the supermarket hoped the move would boost basket size and customer loyalty by ending the “confusion” over where the best value lies by letting them decide the lines they want a promotion on.

“What I think this will do is give customers real trust that they are getting a real discount on something they want to buy.”

Mark Price, Waitrose managing director

“Customers now get the offers suppliers or retailers want to offer, the customer hasn’t been empowered. The holy grail is being able to offer customers what they want in a highly customised way and to do it at scale.”

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black labelled the programme an “inspirational move” that could help the top line at Waitrose.

“Waitrose is truly utilising its myWaitrose database for customers’ personal benefit and its own insight. More to the point though it is striking head on a concern, frustration and worry of an increasing number of shoppers as to the authenticity, credibility and reliability of promotions. In essence many shoppers do not trust promotions and so do not trust the supermarket where they have come,” says Black.

Richard Robinson, managing partners at Oystercatchers, called the scheme a “novel idea” for supermarkets and said it reminded him of the “friends and family” schemes run by companies such as BT which offers people money off calls to the people they ring most often.

“This will inspire loyalty. People will feel like they are getting a good deal,” he said.

However Price admitted that the scheme could be “very expensive”. He estimated it could cost Waitrose and its suppliers at least £5m a week based on 20% of customers signing up and them getting around £5 off a week but admitted that “we could be talking telephone numbers”.

Promoting the scheme

To promote the scheme, Waitrose will be pushing activity across print and outdoor as well as on social media from next Wednesday (24 June). It will also be pushing emails out to 4 million myWaitrose customers and promoting it in-store through fliers and branded barcodes for the products involved.

Price said he expected the scheme to generate debate among customers over which items to put in their top 10 and whether to opt for cheaper products they buy every shop or more luxury goods they buy less often.

Initial results from a trial at 20 stores showed the most popular item was Essential Waitrose toilet paper, as well as items such as bacon, eggs and tomatoes.

Customers who sign up before 7 July will receive a voucher for £6 off a £60 voucher but will not be able to change their selection for at least 3 months, when Waitrose will look at how the scheme is performing and how it could develop including which and how many lines are on offer.

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