M&S Sparks scheme ‘just paint by numbers loyalty’

grant 2Former Tesco Clubcard chief Grant Harrison has slated Marks & Spencer’s attempt to build customer loyalty through its Sparks card, accusing the retailer of going down a dead end by just offering discounts.
Speaking at the Mumbrella Retail Marketing Summit, Harrison – now chief executive of The Future Customer – insisted: “Marks and Sparks is just paint by numbers loyalty.”
He reckons that the future for customer loyalty lies in companies not just collecting data from customers, but in sharing it with them and even telling them how much they are selling it for.
Business need to break away from the idea that the data they collect should be hidden from customers. “This information is opening up a passion area for people,” said Harrison. “The way the use of data has been changing is in permission.”
He cited the example of running and cycling app Strava which allows users to tap into each others’ data and use it to improve their own experience. “Strava has a trillion data points and making it totally transparent. It’s not just your data, it’s everyone’s data,” he said.
Harrison urged companies to change their culture for the benefit of their customers.
“We are going to be seeing total transparency and thinking and more and more about being absolutely happy with what customers are seeing,” he added. “Instead of supermarkets holding on to the stuff because they think it’s really valuable and screwing the suppliers… we have to be more open with the data.”
Ultimately, Harrison said brands need to move the way they think about customers from merely being a functional utility – something bought and used – to one of passion, where brands can tap into why people are using their products and then build a direct relationship.
“The passion loop is a mix of the rational benefits plus increasingly the passion side of it,” he said, where passion was fuelled by people praising each other through apps like Strava and on LinkedIn. “Kudos is a new loyalty currency that works,” he concluded.

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