Waitrose customer club aims for brand affinity

Mark%20PriceWaitrose is launching its first loyalty-style customer club later this month as part of a major push to retain key customers and build its profile with food lovers. The launch of the Waitrose Food Club is being driven by the chain’s managing director, Mark Price.

The retailer is reluctant to reveal details of the club or what rewards will be offered to customers but Price says it has been designed to “ensure key customers have a greater affinity with Waitrose.”

Price has scrapped his customer-facing blog in favour of the club, which it is understood he plans to use as his main platform for communicating directly with customers. It is thought it will focus on all aspects of enjoying food, including the sociable element of eating and ethical issues, as well as cooking and ingredients.

It is the first time the supermarket has moved into the loyalty club area and it comes as the chain seeks to build its presence in the face of competition from rival chains. Sainsbury’s and Tesco have had reward points schemes for several years.

Price says he prefers not to refer to the new club as a “loyalty” scheme, preferring to call it a brand “affinity” driver. Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw, which handles direct marketing projects across the John Lewis Group, is understood to be working on the club. It is thought that the launch will be promoted through a major campaign, which is expected to be developed by Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy.

Waitrose’s advertising is also expected to focus on price throughout 2009 and is keen to bring in new customers by dispelling perceptions that it is more expensive than its rivals.

The step comes after news that the retailer is bidding to woo new young male customers via a tailored online version of its customer magazine Seasons (MW January 9). Both developments are part of the retailer’s new drive to communicate its “good food, honestly priced” message.

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