The Warehouse Group adopt world leading Eagle Eye loyalty platform

Insights from our latest Loyalty Central event with Tim Mason, the father of modern supermarket loyalty.



Tim Mason, the father of modern supermarket loyalty the world over, was our guest speaker at last week’s Loyalty Central event in Auckland, which focussed on how businesses can harness digital and technology to provide a more personalised loyalty experience for customers.


Tim launched the Tesco Clubcard loyalty program in 1995 and it immediately propelled Tesco forward. The business went from number 2 to number 1 in the UK market, and over the next decade grew its market share from 24% up to 33%, something no one thought was possible at the time. Clubcard was a major contributor to this as it enabled Tesco to understand who its customers were and target communications to this.


Most grocery loyalty programs in the world are built on the Clubcard format, including Countdown’s Onecard and New World’s Clubcard here in New Zealand.


Tim’s now the CEO of specialist supermarket loyalty platform Eagle Eye based in the UK who now power Countdown’s Onecard and have added Phil Devlin to their team. Phil, a heavyweight of New Zealand loyalty (ex-Airpoints, ex-Qantas Loyalty) was most recently at Countdown leading the Onecard loyalty strategy.


Tim and Phil, together with Jonathan Reeve from Eagle Eye’s Melbourne team (who power the Woolworths Australia loyalty program Everyday Rewards) shared their views on the rapid advance of loyalty strategies globally and none more swiftly than here in New Zealand. The Warehouse Group proved New Zealand’s early loyalty adopter status by becoming Eagle Eye’s first client outside of Europe in launching the group wide loyalty program; MarketClub.


Below we share key insights for loyalty marketers:

  • Successful businesses know who their customers are – they also know who their best customers are, who are the most loyal, and how easy it is to increase basket size. Understanding this will completely change the way someone runs a customer-facing business

  • Before we were able to understand customers in this way, retailers were only able to understand what products were selling best. But they didn’t know why and who was making those purchases. Tim gave the example of expensive sausages – suddenly a business might realise they were selling more expensive sausages, so they would quite rightly stock more of those, but they didn’t know what was driving that trend so couldn’t harness it to its maximum.

  • When people talk about technology in customer loyalty, they must understand that technology is the how, whereas the why is still the most important piece of that puzzle. It’s all about understanding your customers so that you can do a better job for them.

  • Once you start from the point of wanting to do a better job for your customers, digital becomes a no-brainer. It means a lower cost of delivery and less friction, and enables you to tap into the data that comes from a smartphone, which everybody has.

  • There is a big opportunity to transform marketing and to do it better. For Tim, better means more personalisation.

  • One of the greatest strengths of Tesco is its broad appeal, something that’s necessary when a business has 33% market share. However if you run a business that has a broad appeal, for example one that incorporates drug stores, groceries, department stores, financial services etc. it’s inevitable that people will buy into some parts of that product but not everything. You need to know which parts your customers are buying into and talk to them about those pieces that they find attractive.

  • Businesses need to think about the experience as soon as the customer walks into the door – what first aisle do they walk through, what happens when they turn into the cross aisle? Businesses create a journey here of price, or value, or promotion or quality – and businesses need to be able to tell more than one story because everyone wants their share.

  • The big advantage of digital is that you can tell people the stories about the things they’re interested in and not clog up their mental bandwidth with things they have to scroll past because they don’t have a dog or a child or aren’t interested in vegetarian etc.

  • The golden rule is – know who your customers are, understand what they want, then open up a direct channel of communication with them to share with them the offerings that they are interested in at that tie.


Tim also spoke about COVID-19, explaining that it has become a technology accelerant because suddenly people are much more used to the idea of QR codes and e-commerce. The challenge is ensuring that customers can shop a brand not a channel.

He finished by saying that there is no excuse for impersonalisation – music, social media and messaging is all personalised now, so brands must be too otherwise they risk slipping behind people’s general expectations of how things work.


Discussions – questions raised about future trends in loyalty


Tim, Phil and Jonathan’s observations sparked several discussions:

  • Where are coalitions going? They seem to perform well when they’re either an airline or owned by the operator as in the case of Virgin in the UK (an Eagle Eye client).

  • What might the next phase of multi-currency programs look like? There does seem to be a move to allow points to pool with examples in the USA and UK but it’s hard to see retailers getting on board. A bank or other player might be able to act as the catalyst and make the market.

  • How hard will this year’s changes to New Zealand’s payments regulation hit loyalty? The minister has said $74 million will be saved by businesses. The general view is the hit should be far bigger for credit card loyalty programs – perhaps in the range of $250m. Credit cards account for half of the funding in the New Zealand loyalty market and at $250m that would be roughly cutting that budget in half. Banks elsewhere have reacted with merchant funded offers and discounts but there’s no stock of those yet in New Zealand. Banks also have a raft of compliance projects.


Loyalty Central is the full guide to loyalty platforms and tools available in New Zealand. If you’d like to find out more, please reach out – we’d be more than happy to chat through your questions.


About our speakers and Eagle Eye

Tim Mason is the CEO of specialist supermarket loyalty platform Eagle Eye, based in the UK, which now powers Countdown’s Onecard.


Phil Devlin is a heavyweight of New Zealand loyalty (ex-Airpoints, ex-Qantas Loyalty) and was most recently at Countdown leading the Onecard loyalty strategy before joining Eagle Eye.


Jonathan Reeve is from Eagle Eye’s Melbourne team (who power the Woolworths Australia loyalty program Everyday Rewards).


The Warehouse Group proved New Zealand’s early loyalty adopter status by becoming Eagle Eye’s first client outside of Europe in launching the group wide loyalty program; MarketClub.


About Loyalty Central events

Loyalty Central events are designed for networking and we were joined by 55 loyalty colleagues from all areas of the loyalty market. This included all three of the major coalitions (Airpoints, Flybuys and Smartfuel’s founders), both the supermarket chains, 4 of the 5 banks, power companies, telcos, retailers and other loyalty providers. We also had some of New Zealand’s loyalty pioneers who’ve lead the advances of our loyalty market over the last 10 years.




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