Marks & Spencer is aiming to tap into the expertise which turned Tesco from a pile it high, sell it cheap supermarket into a data-driven retail giant by drafting in Starcount – the company run by Clubcard founders Edwina Dunn and Clive Humby – to boost its Sparks Card loyalty scheme as well as bolster its five-year transformation plan.
The partnership aims to improve customer understanding and insight by personalising M&S’s loyalty and CRM initiatives, in a move which will see Starcount implement its technology to map out customer preferences in order to predict future buying behaviour.
Sparks, which currently has over 6 million members, is a key tool for customer insight and engagement and central to helping M&S become a digital-first retailer. Late last year, chief executive Steve Rowe reaffirmed the retailer’s commitment to data-driven marketing by insisting it wants data analysis “to become the glue that sits above our business units and underpins the brand”.
Founded in 2010, Dunn and Humby joined the Starcount board in 2013 as executive directors and took a “significant minority equity stake” in the business. The husband and wife team, who made an estimated £93m from selling DunnHumby to Tesco, have since turned the firm from a social network analytics company into a full-blown data science business.
The appointment follows a major restructure of the M&S marketing team last month, in which customer and loyalty marketing director Nathan Ansell became its new clothing and home marketing director and Rob Weston was appointed brand and customer marketing director. Meanwhile former Tesco marketing director Sharry Cramond joined from US firm Southeastern Grocers to oversee food and hospitality marketing.
Weston said: “Sparks plays a huge part in helping with our transformation and having the best partners will enable us to focus on achieving a seamless experience for our customers.”
Dunn added: “Starcount’s expertise is the science of purchase and intent, understanding the ‘why’ behind M&S customer purchases to help deliver growth, profitability as well as a seamless customer experience.”
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