Tesco trials the Clubcard approach in U.S. Fresh & Easy stores

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It took a long time for the other shoe to drop, but apparently that shoe has indeed hit the floor. There’s been talk for some time about if and mostly when Tesco would bring its Clubcard loyalty program format to its U.S. Fresh & Easy Stores. Speculation was intense enough that when Fresh & Easy advertised a position for its friends of fresh&easy customer communications program back in late 2009, the Financial Times reported that this signaled the Clubcard variant’s arrival in the U.S.

False alarm. As I noted in “Easy Does It” a while back, in addition to other communication vehicles, friends of fresh&easy employs an opt-in email initiative offering subscriber-only deals, coupons and special offers. And it delivers updates about the market and its community efforts.

This time, the phantom second shoe is real, at least as a seven-location trial in Bakersfield, California. The Financial Times reports (free registration required) that a new Friends card will be piloted. Turns out the news has been out in the blogosphere previously, in the Fresh & Easy Buzz blog—now we’re getting some additional details. For instance, card users will earn points based on spend—one point per dollar. Rewards are redeemed digitally rather than through the type of vouchers issued by Tesco in the U.K. Coupons—once Fresh & Easy’s mainstay—seem to be going by the wayside.

Especially with rising interest in coupon use in general these days, that latter strategy is risky if customers who have been trained to watch for deals suddenly find that the “device” that secures the deal is disappearing. But Fresh & Easy has means of communication—more than 360,000 subscribers to the friends of fresh&easy email letter—and the possibility of supplementing that broadcast means without immediately replacing it, while at the same time working toward the targeted, data-driven communications and offers made possible through the identification device that the Friends card would represent.

The lessons here are basic to change management we all can learn from:

  • Communicate with customers profusely and clearly, well in advance of major changes.
  • Quickly demonstrate value when making the changes so customers just as quickly adapt and support the changes. Both you and your customers need quick wins, and turning data into relevance is key to demonstrating that value.
  • Allow for appropriate transition so customers accustomed to one value proposition retain elements of that prop while being introduced to a new proposition. After all, cold turkey should remain in the meat section.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Brohaugh
As managing editor, Bill Brohaugh is responsible for the day-to-day management and editorial for the COLLOQUY magazine and colloquy.com, the most comprehensive loyalty marketing web site in the world. In addition to writing many of the feature articles, Bill develops the editorial calendar, hires and manages outside writers and researchers and oversees print and online production. He also contributes to COLLOQUY's weekly email Market Alert and the COLLOQUYTalk series of white papers.

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