My supermarket thinks that I’m fraternising with a younger, more attractive, cheaper supermarket and it’s trying to win me back.

When you check out at The Cooperative and they scan your loyalty card, sometimes, seemingly at random the till prints out a coupon for your next visit, “Spend £20 and get £2 off” or perhaps £30 and £3. Until recently I collected my 10% from time to time and didn’t think much of it. Now, however, every time I shop a new coupon prints, and I have a collection forming at home. So what’s going on here?

While I referred to it as “seemingly at random”, as a member of the Capgemini Business Analytics team, I should know that a supermarket will have sophisticated customer analytics working behind the scenes, especially when working with invaluable loyalty card data. So why am I suddenly being wooed with discounts? What does my behaviour look like in the data?

My partner and I do all of our shopping at The Cooperative, it’s literally across the street from where we live. My partner and I also travel extensively for work and pleasure. Since Christmas we have both worked at least Monday to Thursday out of town, and spent several weekends on the continent. Our spending profile appears to have simply dried up. Are we shopping at another supermarket?! Presumably The Cooperative’s customer analytics have identified us as a loyalty risk, and are now throwing discount coupons at us to try and win us back. Fascinating.

So, am I won back? Fact is, I’m not a loyalty risk at all. While I am a price sensitive consumer, the only threat would be someone opening an even more convenient supermarket, and that would be pretty difficult given the current across-the-street circumstances. It’s still nice to feel valued, though, and certainly nice to see an organisation behaving intelligently with customer analytics.

And just for fun, consider the possibility that you could two-time your supermarket. Get yourself set-up with a couple of different loyalty cards, and cycle between them, creating a constant impression of loyalty-risk. You risk this kind of gaming behaviour any time you create unusual incentives, particularly when an “unfair” situation arises where perhaps truly loyal customers are not offered discounts and are thus worse off. I doubt anybody but the most hardcore follower of moneysavingexpert will actually try this, however.