Building Stronger Customer Relationships with Sainsbury's: Embracing Customer Data to Deliver Busine

After losing significant market share to its key competitor, in early 2004 Sainsbury’s recruited new Chief Executive Officer Justin King to lead its recovery. Later that year, King launched a revitalization program under the banner “Making Sainsbury’s Great Again.” In 2007, Sainsbury’s Mike Coupe, then Trading Director, threw the gauntlet down to Aimia: Sainsbury’s needed to develop stronger and closer relationship with its customers and suppliers — and data from Sainsbury’s partnership with the Nectar coalition loyalty program would be key to delivering on this mandate.

Over the years, Sainsbury’s had amassed a vault of customer data, accessible to a handful of skilled analysts and coders who could see the information but weren’t using it to its full capacity. This limited accessibility left Sainsbury’s buying and merchandising teams short of the customer insights that would enable them to break new ground and truly focus their strategy around the customer.

To drive the necessary change across the business, Sainsbury’s and Nectar would need to gain deeper customer insight by analyzing purchase behaviour, testing promotions, measuring the results, and reporting the
impact on in-store product sales. Sainsbury’s challenge was clear: Nectar customer data had to be unlocked, decoded, and unleashed to reward customers and in turn support the company’s quest to grow and transform its business.

Aimia and Sainsbury’s were natural companions on this journey. Both partners recognized that unlocking customer data would deliver a strategic advantage for Sainsbury’s. With rival UK grocer Tesco revealing that the customer data from its Clubcard loyalty program was a “secret weapon,” there was not only a precedent to get customer insight right, but also an opportunity for Sainsbury’s to do it better — and thereby to surpass its largest competitor in buildin relationships with its customers.