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Nectar MD on why personalisation isn’t about whacking a name on a bottle

Nectar is in the midst of transforming itself from an analogue business, where until recently its users would get a quarterly print-out of retail offers, to a “digital-first” brand thanks to its new app. Underpinning the app’s expected success, has been a two-years of work from its internal innovation lab to make the experience as personal as possible.

Personalisation is the word that remains on many marketers lips, but too often they are harnessing the vast amounts of data available to them to target individuals, using details like a first name on a bottle or wedged in an online advert to try and show customers they speaking to them.

However, this shouldn’t be the case and personalisation should be about what the customer can’t see, according to Nectar managing director Will Shuckburgh.

“The more you use the app, the machine learning can tailor offers to you. That’s where personalisation is important,” Shuckburgh recently told The Drum.

“It’s not about putting a name on a bottle or just doing things that are a bit trite. It’s about using the things customers share with us about them to make a better experience which is easier and more relevant.”

This has seen Nectar not only lean on the bank of data it has gathered on some 19 million customers who are shopping with its 20 main retail partners such as Sainsbury’s and Homebase, but also ingest weather and location data into the app.

This means that today, instead of that paper statement with 10 offers coming through your front door four times a year, customers can access up to 100 offers at any one time which will be crafted by retailers depending on who, where and what that customer is doing.

“There are a lot of brands trying to understand what personalisation means and how to make it work but the relevance of personalisation is to increase the customer experience and make that better,” said Shuckburgh.

“So it’s less about sticking a name on something and more about focusing on what you can learn as customer champions and how you can use the resources you have to make it easier for customers to get a better experience.”

He went on to say that increasingly, short term promotions are working less well and customers are engaging with brands that will give them long term value. Waitrose, for example, has seen huge success from its ‘Pick Your Own Offers’ scheme which it claimed is some 8,000 customers are signing up to every day.

Nectar recently launched a brand marketing campaign in order to drive awareness but has a raft of ongoing activity in the pipeline which it hopes will convert more of its customers into daily users of the app. 

“We’re on a journey with this. We really have changed the business to act like a start-up and be very responsive at testing and learning to innovate. That’s what customers want. They want to give their trust to brands who are constantly trying to find the best way to improve their lives.” 

Featured by The Drum