Waitrose: could new loyalty mechanic be revolutionary?
Waitrose: could new loyalty mechanic be revolutionary?
A view from Kate Jones

Why Waitrose has found the Holy Grail in a culture of fascia-agnostic deal hunting

Waitrose's new loyalty mechanic, Pick Your Own Offers, is a revolutionary promotional tool that could be as disruptive as Tesco Clubcard once was, argues brand consultant and retail watcher, Kate Jones.

We are at war. Price war. It is ugly, bloody and brutal.

The big guys are slugging it out against each other and price cuts get deeper as bigger and more deadly missiles are launched in the hope of obliterating the competition and attracting the ever-more savvy shoppers.

Since hard disounters Aldi and Lidl hit the scene trading has revolutionised – shopping habits have changed and building loyalty has taken on a new twist. Price matters and shouting about it matters even more. 

It won’t stop the Price War, but it has changed the battleground

Asda’s ‘5 year £1Bn price pledge’, Sainsbury’s ‘£150m across 1000 lines’, Tesco ‘slashing 380 top brands by 25%’ - and so it goes on.

But who are the winners here?

At best it’s good for the pocket of pressurised consumers in difficult economic times. At worst it is destroying retail brands and branded goods alike and creating a culture of fascia-agnostic deal hunters.

It’s all about the best you can get, not where or how or from whom you get it. Deal on price and there will always be someone who can undercut you.

Surely there is a better way?

Imagine a world where a perfect promotion exists. A sophisticated weapon that won’t obliterate the landscape but can hit the target with laser precision and zero collateral damage.

A mechanic that can offer the right price to the right people at the right time, when, where and on what they want - effectively putting the consumer in control. One that is mutually beneficial to the shopper, the brand owner and the retailer alike.

It could be a game-changer as much as Tesco Clubcard was in the ‘90s - with the big differentiating factor that it is shoppers themselves who call the shots

It sounds revolutionary, yet entirely plausible and as with every genius innovation, like it exists already. And the good news is, that thanks to Waitrose, it does.

Enter ‘Pick Your Own Offers’.  As of next week myWaitrose members have control over their own discounts. Pure Brilliance!

No more scrapping for deals, buying in bulk that you don’t want, taking a punt on a brand you otherwise wouldn’t or messing with coupons and points – just money off the items you often buy, whenever you buy them. Rewarding your loyalty to the brand – it’s personal, it’s unique and it is just for you.

It feels like Waitrose has really thought about the long game and ultimately what is important – and that, is customer satisfaction. However, it is not at the expense of brand owners, who are as engaged in this as Waitrose themselves, and reportedly funding 50% of the potential £260m costs.

Glimmers of hope

This is an example of real mutuality, somewhat of a promotional Holy Grail where all parties are winners. It seems crazy in this technological day and age that no-one has done it before.

Think of the possibilities! It could be a game-changer as much as Tesco Clubcard was in the ‘90s, with the big differentiating factor that it is shoppers themselves who call the shots.

It won’t stop the Price War, but it has changed the battleground. Waitrose customers no longer need to shop around and in theory , the business can continue out of the firing line.

With 5m customers already signed up to myWaitrose (and the likelihood of a membership spike) potential outlay could be huge - but if it works (and I really hope it does) how long will it be before Tesco et al get on the bandwagon?

The possibilities are endless, mindboggling and a new way of rewarding loyalty is here. After what feels like years of war, the glimmers of hope are upon us and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you Waitrose.

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