Metro’s data-driven app gambit scores with shoppers

Grocery chain serves up personalized offers based on user data

Powered_BYWhen the bosses at grocery chain Metro began a major overhaul of the company’s digital strategy two years ago, one of the key principles was a desire to simplify the lives of customers.

Not only did the company want to create a new “digital ecosystem” with a mobile app and a new website, it also needed a way to revamp its flyer game.

“All of the retailers use (flyers) to drive traffic. It’s a war on a week-to-week basis to please customers,” said Marc Giroux, Metro’s chief marketing and communications officer.

Mindful of a very competitive market, the plan was to devise a “weekly conversation” with customers that combined the best parts of Metro’s loyalty program with data analysis, and package it all into an easy-to-use mobile app.

The latest element in that strategy came to fruition at the end of March, with the launch of Metro’s “Just For Me” program.

In fact, Montreal-based Metro, which operates stores in Quebec and Ontario, is billing “Just For Me” as the first of its kind in Canada.

“Consumers have access to a whole new level of personalization, using the data and what we know of customers, we are now able to customize their overall experience,” said Giroux in an interview with Marketing.

It goes something like this: If you like eating hummus, Metro’s new app will tell you when it goes on sale, help you put it on your shopping list and will even give you recipes to go with it.

“Consumers, if they build their grocery list through our app, will have access to our flyers deals, and our recipes,” Giroux said.

While competitor Loblaw launched a similar loyalty-linked program in 2013, Metro spokesperson Geneviève Grégoire explained “Just For Me” comes with a few exclusive bells and whistles.

For example, the Metro app automatically suggests a “usuals” list, while the Loblaws app has to be configured manually.

Likewise, Metro’s “Just For Me” will add flyer deals directly to a customer’s shopping list and will also prioritize those deals based on prior purchases.

So far, the program—which uses data from Metro’s six million loyalty members—has been a success.

In new statistics provided to Marketing, Giroux said the number of customers linking their loyalty cards to the app has increased 10-fold on a day-to-day basis since the “Just For Me” launch on March 23.

Meanwhile, downloads of the app across all mobile platforms (Android, iOS, etc.) have tripled since the launch date.

And while customers get a tailored flyer, Metro gets more data on what their shoppers want.

“Using the data and the analysis, we are able to segment our customers’ lifestyles, and then offer them recipes and content that is relevant to them,” said Giroux.

But when asked about how the grocer segments customers—by age, income-level or gender— Giroux remained tight-lipped. However, the grocer suggested targeted recipes are sent to groups ranging from “price sensitive” to “gourmet.”

When asked about the importance of the traditional sales funnel, Giroux said the principles remain the same, but the approach has changed.

“I think the basic principle of sales funnels still apply, but I think the complexity of managing that funnel increases, as consumers have a lot more power in their hands with technology, and there is the multiplicity of touch points.”

While Metro had more than 80 million direct contacts with customers through its website, mobile app and newsletters last year, the company plans on pushing that number to more than 100 million in 2015.

A question of trust?

If it sounds a little creepy to the privacy-conscious among us, Giroux said a lot of thought has gone into staying trustworthy.

“When consumers engage in these platforms, they express a desire to participate, so we haven’t had any complaints about privacy,” he said.

“We’re really respectful, we don’t do geo-localisation to track our customers.”

Giroux said the company isn’t currently sharing the data with any third parties, but he didn’t rule it out. “I’m not saying we’ll never do that, but if we were to do so, we’ll always ask our customers permission before we do. I think it’s all about trust.”

Not only is trust very important for Giroux and the data squad at Metro—which was built as an in-house, enterprise-type team with input from U.K.-based loyalty specialists Dunnhumby —but so is adding value in return.

Indeed, companies that get data on their customers while failing to provide reciprocal value do so at their own peril, suggested Giroux.

“For retail owners and brands like Metro, the key opportunity is to use the data to increase the relevance of the in-store experience.”



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