DMA: Data and Marketing Association
Consumer Help

Onecard Relaunch: Mobilizing a country

Agency: Affinity ID    •    Client: Countdown    •    Category: Gold Mailbox Award    •    Award: USPS Award

In NZ, three main grocery retailers fight tooth-and-nail. Countdown operates 185 supermarkets nationwide and runs a successful loyalty program delivering critical data that supports property, store format, ranging and pricing decisions. With millions of dollars at stake, small changes dramatically impact the bottom-line. But longitudinal customer metrics over the past three years were showing a slow erosion of customer engagement. It was time for a good look, and time to make some hard calls.

Campaign Objective

Customers liked our loyalty pricing and in-store discounts. But they wanted more, and our program was starting to lack appeal. A comprehensive program of research, analytics and customer engagement provided a key insight: Kiwi’s love food, and they also drive a lot. So we designed a solution integrating both of these types of day-to-day spending, which would offer a choice of Food or Fuel rewards. Our analytics also told us that consumers were getting jaded by a complex and crowded loyalty landscape. We had to deliver clear and simple messaging to cut through, so our strategy became:

  • Create awareness about the proposition
  • Avoid engaging early on full understanding of program benefits.
  • Appeal to key emotional drivers of shopping and the feel-good factor of saving. (And avoid focusing on rational benefits).
  • Get customers to register, and only then provide them with more relevant details.

Target Audience
We knew that our platform of combining food and fuel would appeal to our audience, but we needed to make the offer as compelling and persuasive as possible. To do this, we focused on a key emotional benefit of saving money: feeling good. This would feel relevant, personal and positive, and would hopefully convince people to sign up for a new car. After all, everyone loves feeling good.

The Execution

Our research revealed that respecting existing relationships with both brands was going to be key. For each customer, we had to identify the strongest relationship, and then let that brand lead the conversation with that customer, while keeping the messaging simple. This would mean segmented messaging, unique to each customer segment. And it meant being able to reinforce this simplicity at every touchpoint, so we started inside-out. We would need to drive engagement with customers in-store, particularly at checkout. Staff needed to be able to represent the new program in the best possible way. They needed to be ready to talk about the new program, its benefits, and know how to answer potential customer questions. In support of the campaign, an extensive road show took place, and we also created store champions (one in each store) who conducted a training rollout for all staff (not just those at the frontline). As part of the rollout, we used Facebook@Work. This became a forum for champions to share how things were going, and to answer any questions the teams might have. We also used it to create excitement asking stores~”what’s big green and orange, and coming soon?” The funniest answers received prizes. With team engagement around the program in progress, we developed our channel strategy. TV’s role was to create general awareness about what was happening, supported by OOH. We launched an emotionally-driven sixty second TVC to drive awareness, and supported it extensively with other media. In-store material was also rolled out in 184 Countdown stores. Next, we needed to talk to each customer personally and relevantly. This would get Kiwis’ picking up and registering their card. So for the first time ever, we allowed Countdown first party data for programmatic media buying. This let us develop an approach which would enable meaningful and relevant messaging directly through paid media. We developed over 1,500 different customer journeys from 5 distinct buckets of people that we had identified as core customers. And when they had signed up, we washed them out of the system, meaning we could reinvest budget in channels that were performing the best. This was both efficient and effective. With increasing interest in the program, and cards flying off the shelves we then reinforced benefits to the now growing Onecard database. For some, focusing on Club prices, and for others, the ability to accumulate higher food/fuel savings.

The Stats

This launch was never going to be easy – it was an unprecedented new partnership. The campaign had a huge scope, complex messaging and the significant challenges to overcome, and it was going to land in environment that consumers saw as confusing. Extensive research revealed key insights, including that we needed to emphasize the increased opportunity of savings. So we developed a creative platform that enabled customers to understand they had a clear choice: food or fuel. This put them in control of how they wanted to save. Plus, by focusing on an emotional benefit of feeling good, it brought a smile to their faces. This created broad awareness of the new program, which allowed us to then focus on direct messaging – and we let the data lead this. We merged three databases – a combined un-deduped total of 4.1 million customers. We created segments to define rules of engagement based on who had the strongest relationship, and let the relevant brand (Countdown or AA Smartfuel) lead the conversation. We ensured our ability to deliver targeted messaging beyond owned channels by merging first party data audiences across 5 media partners: Xaxis Programmatic Trading Desk, Facebook, Google, Trademe, and TVNZ. This enabled variable and custom messaging to be targeted directly to customers through these channels, and each partners’ data set was updated via automatic data transfers to ensure that new registrations were being tracked and media spend was optimized to only target those customers who had not yet registered a new card.

The Results

There were two main reasons for our success. The first was the boldness of the program itself. We’re not exaggerating when we say that we transformed the loyalty landscape in New Zealand by joining forces. We re-invigorated engagement from existing customers and also incentivized new customers from our fuel partner to start shopping at our supermarket. We delivered a solution that gave customers a clear choice between earning food or fuel rewards. For customers who loved the existing Onecard structure, it let them carry as on as usual. For other customers, the ability to switch to fuel rewards gave them a clear path to the rewards they wanted. Importantly, this new reward structure couldn’t be simply copied by our competitors. And even more importantly. this has got more data from more customers pumping through our decision making systems. The second reason for our success was what we communicated to our customers, and the way we spoke to them. By focusing on a simple emotional benefit of saving money (feeling good), we were able to appeal to almost every single New Zealander. So from a top-line level, we had their attention. Then, when we used our data to deliver more detailed and targeted messaging, we kept them hooked through engaging and benefits-focused content.


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