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Woolworths Everyday Rewards is the great disruptor in New Zealand customer loyalty programs.

Updated: Apr 28


Image of a rewards programe on a phone screen
Woolworths Everyday Rewards

Guest Article | Simon Rowles, New Zealand Partner with Ellipsis & Company

Simon is a great friend of RX and a partner at Ellipsis & Co. the Customer Loyalty experts. Elllipsis & Co use Customer Science® to understand, manage and grow customer value and help businesses thrive through solving complex customer problems.


 

Most disruptions and innovations in customer loyalty programs have occurred as small niche efforts scattered through the ecosystem, which eventually grow and cause a tectonic shift. Author William Gibson famously said, "The future is already here – it's just not very evenly distributed". 


For loyalty in New Zealand, the future is already here, and it's not only not distributed; it's highly concentrated and all in the new Woolworths Everyday Rewards.  


Woolworths is our disruption 

In February, New Zealand's loyalty disruption arrived in the form of Woolworths' Everyday Rewards supermarket loyalty program. It's a transplant of perhaps Australia's most successful loyalty program into the New Zealand loyalty ecosystem.  

It brings with it five key loyalty disruptions we should expect others in the market to either adopt (and at pace) or to try and invent competitive responses to. 


Disruption 1: the end of outsourced loyalty & ascent of loyalty owner-operators 

The launch of Everyday Rewards signalled the death of our long-running and successful New Zealand invention and world-first AA Smartfuel, which closed the day prior. Their outsourced model had several companies, including bp and Contact, together with the then Countdown, outsourcing some or all of their loyalty program activity to an agency. In the early 2000's, agencies like this dominated loyalty globally and managed a billion members between them. 


Woolworths now runs its loyalty program for its own benefit in the same way Kathmandu, Mercury, Farmers and Life Pharmacy do. It's also one of the new breed of loyalty program operators that brings enterprise scaled retail partners in to benefit from its own program (in Woolworths case, bp and ASB). 

So what: The Warehouse was looking to be a challenger in this loyalty model with its MarketClub and may still be the kind of partner other retailers might use for their loyalty proposition. Expect other retailers to build this capability and to rent access to likeminded retailers.  


Disruption 2: member-based pricing   

With the Everyday Rewards launch, we also got member-based pricing. In this, loyalty program members get all the usual loyalty benefits, such as points and rewards but in addition, they also get steep discounts on the products they buy in Woolworths.  The loyalty program is a gateway to a reduced price at checkout. 

New Zealand already had something akin to this in Countdown's Onesmart, but not on this scale and not as aggressive. UK supermarket Tesco pioneered the strategy in 2019 and it has been followed by every UK competitor (Sainsbury's', Co-op, Morrisons and Marks and Spencer).  


It's now so widespread that the UK regulator is looking at whether using the loyalty program as a gateway to discounts is unfair and whether they are, in fact, barriers. 


So what: The UK experience is that every other player in the category follows suit. In Australia, Woolworths member pricing has been matched in some trials by competitor Coles using their own loyalty program Flybuys. Expect to see more member-based pricing inside loyalty programs from more retailers. 


Disruption 3: Every business is becoming an advertising business 

One of the benefits of member-based pricing is that the benefit of being a loyal member is immediately evident at the till, with a reduced cost of groceries. More customers are more likely to swipe their Everyday Rewards card (a digital one), more often driving up tag rate (the number of transactions tied to a customer). The higher the tag rate, the better Woolworths understands the shopper and what they're buying.  


The better they understand the shopper, the more they earn from advertisers through their Retail Media Network business, Cartology. Retailers use their loyalty schemes and internal shopping data to target ads to customers while they shop in-store or online. Woolworths made $550 million from Cartology across Australia and New Zealand last year. 

Foodstuffs and The Warehouse also have Retail Media Networks. It's the highest margin, lowest cost, and fastest-growing category for any retailer. Walmart made $ 4.5 billion from it in 2022, with 30% growth quarter over quarter.


So what: Expect more and more retailers to launch loyalty programs to get access to customer data. Expect the bigger ones to use that loyalty program as a foundation for their own retail media networks. 


Disruption 4: Better credit card rewards 

Credit cards and the rewards they deliver are roughly half of all the money in New Zealand's loyalty ecosystem. Or they were until the regulator changed how they work and cut that value almost in half recently. It's a disappointing impact if you're one of the banks offering your customers Airpoints but a nearly existential impact if you're a bank that offers toasters and TV's as rewards.    


Woolworths has partnered with ASB.  ASB customers can now elect to either earn the True Rewards currency on their credit cards (as they have for nearly 20 years) or, instead, automatically earn the new Woolworth's Everyday Rewards currency. It's the next best thing and perhaps even a better thing than being able to automatically earn Airpoints and it helps ASB escape the race to the bottom on toasters and TV rewards. It's an admission that Woolworth's currency is better for some ASB customers than the currency ASB has built in True Rewards for the last 20 years. 


So what: This will lift ASB True Rewards value and consequently the spending and tenure on ASB rewards credit cards. Expect competitor credit card loyalty programs to react. 


Disruption 5: The William Webb-Ellis of retail loyalty 

Everyday Rewards is an imported program from Woolworths Australia. However, the real disruption driving our market is the loyalty engine underneath Everyday Rewards called Eagle Eye. Led by Tim Mason, who launched the Tesco Clubcard in 1995 for Tesco's, he is to loyalty what William Webb-Ellis was to rugby.    


Eagle Eye leads in supermarket loyalty, yes, but it's also driving a raft of other disruptions inside and outside supermarkets in markets that are much, much larger and more complex than ours. Eagle Eye also powers what could be the next biggest loyalty program in New Zealand in The Warehouse's MarketClub. 


Woolworths Australia's Everyday Rewards program now has the Everyday Extras grocery subscription. The most recently published numbers show they have 230,000 subscribers out of a total base of 15 million Everyday Rewards members. These members pay $70 a year to get double points all the time and 10% off one shop a month. 


So what: Two of New Zealand's biggest retailer's loyalty programs are powered by a loyalty platform delivering loyalty disruptions offshore. Expect some of these international models to appear here in New Zealand as clients adopt or competitors move fast to neutralise the threat. 


This is the year New Zealand – the year we'll look back on as the one where everything changed. 

 

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Picture of a man - Simon Rowles
Simon Rowles

`Simon Rowles is the New Zealand Partner with Ellipsis & Company. Ellipsis are the Loyalty Experts with clients including Kathmandu, Mercury, Farmlands, Visa, Star Alliance and BNZ. Ellipsis use Customer Science® to understand, manage and grow customer value. Contact Simon (simon.rowles@ellipsisandco.com) or visit Ellipsis and www.ellipsisandco.com  

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