On the barometer of stress, most people with children will agree that a supermarket shop with a toddler is near the top. You've just about made it around the shop and want to pay and leave quickly before a tantrum ensues. The last thing you want to be worrying about is how much the final bill will be. So it's no surprise that when Asda wanted to ensure it was building customer loyalty by delivering great service it knew that if it had to get anyone on side, it had to be mums.
Asda recently looked to define its core shopper and what was needed to win their trust. It doesn't have a specific loyalty programme, but it knows that if customers trust the brand they'll be loyal.
"As a brand we work hard to earn trust through great pricing, products, quality and service. We don't have a loyalty programme, but we work to do the right things to win and retain shoppers and we have loyal shoppers," said Alex Chruszcz, Asda's head of insight and pricing.
Asda started talking about the âAsda mum' and the challenges she faces when doing a supermarket shop. She buys the majority of the household groceries from the store, might be working to a tight budget, and is very busy.
Alex acknowledges that many of its shoppers won't have children, but he said: "We thought if we can get it right for mums we can get it right for everybody." Asda brought mums into the stores to meet the business, walked around the stores with them and examined the statistics it has on shoppers.
One insight found from this process was recognising how important it is to make shopping easier by to offering simple price points, such as Â£1 or 50p, and trying to take out complicated promotions that actually make shopping harder.
Asda has 18 million shoppers every week; it's the UK's second biggest supermarket in terms of market share in an increasingly competitive market. As well as established rivals such as Sainsbury's and Tesco, it has newer, low-priced, brands such as Aldi and Lidl snapping at its heels.
Although Asda doesn't have a specific loyalty scheme, there are many retailers who do, claiming promotions such as coupons can be a great incentive to shoppers when sales are down – rival supermarkets have invested heavily in loyalty card schemes. But Alex said: "When sales are down we look how we can do better on the things shoppers need; prices, quality, convenience and service. As a business you need to give customers what they want and that for us is about providing a great multichannel retail experience."
According to Alex, there are three fundamental elements that anyone trying to build customer loyalty should do. These are:
1.Take a long term view:
"Don't be driven by short term tactical activity. You need to take a step back and look at the whole customer experience. It's easy to get lost in day to day CRM tactics and lose focus on the fundamentals."
2. Treat customers equally:
"Aspire to treat customers equally or you'll create a fractured brand and shopping experience. If you have someone paying one price and another customer with a coupon paying a different price, the perception of the brand is becoming fractured. Make sure it's consistent."
3. Don't rely on data:
"Be pragmatic in terms of technology and analytics, they aren't a silver bullet. Use these tools and combine them with the experience of your team."
Getting retailing right is important for Asda, and mums would certainly approve of that.
Alex Chruszcz will be in attendance at this year's Europe's Customer Festival on behalf of Asda, meaning that it's the place to be if you want to get in touch with Alex or Asda quickly and easily.
You can also get a great run down of this and other interviews and case studies, including Aimia’s Jan-Pieter Lips, in Total Customer’s completely free Little Book of Loyalty.