Beer and Nappies

Many have warned about the power of supermarkets, in particular citing market basket analysis and the urban legend regarding beer and nappies. All joking aside, Tesco (Britain’s largest retailer) is getting very good at mining for gold in their data, Orwellian almost. My Wife and I use our club card at every opportunity – it’s worth a penny for every pound at Tesco or up to four pence if you use it on special offers.

As I paid for a small number of groceries the till printed out an extra voucher for me. Previously, I’ve been handed vouchers for extra points when buying bread or milk by a friendly cashier. I didn’t really think much of it. But this voucher was different, this time it struck me that Tesco are mining information about me.

Vodafone Voucher

The voucher offered me 150 points (£1.50 -> £6.00) if we purchase a £10 Top-Up for my Wife’s pay as you go mobile phone. Back-story: my Wife used to get her Vodafone top-up vouchers from Tesco before an unfortunate incident where the self serve machine didn’t print out her voucher and the store refused a refund. Since then, we’ve always made a point of getting them from somewhere else.

From a system’s perspective, Tesco obviously know that we’ve spent a fair amount of money on vouchers for Vodafone network in the past and that we’ve bought at a certain rate. We’ve stopped buying it at Tesco and they’ve worked out how much it’s worth to them to get our custom back once with the hope that we’ll stay. This voucher carries more to us than most of you reading. You’ve probably got a contract phone, or you live outside the UK or you use a different network. Don’t worry though, Tesco probably have a promotion relevant to you ready for the next time you checkout.

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2 comments so far

  1. Jon Kerr on

    I work at Tesco. I can assure you, at the present time, the systems in place gathering information about you are nowhere near so advanced and sinister as you make out.

    The vouchers you recieve are completely at random. Thousands of vouchers are printed in every store every day, completely at random, and not necessarily relevant to what you usually buy. Many people kindly return the vouchers to me and ask me to pass them on (most single men have little use for a voucher awarding 200pts for buying Tampax).

    In fact, the system does not even care if you HAVE a clubcard with which to redeem the points. On many occasion, it prints out vouchers for extra points for a customer who doesnt have a clubcard.

  2. Martin on

    Regarding making it sound sinister; my tongue is firmly in my cheek. I have no problem getting tailored promotions based on my history as the promotion would be entirely relevant to me; just like Google ads based on my search terms.

    From what you’re saying it sounds like it’s purely coincidence. Possibly a case of post hoc.


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