What happens when a retailer gives customers their data? 

Co-operative retail and service chain S Group shared purchase data with customers and increased revenue by nearly 14%

Finnish retailing co-operative S Group wanted to find a way to use its accumulated database on the country’s population to benefit its consumers and help them make more informed purchasing decisions.

S Group has collected decades of consumer data, thanks to the fact that the co-operative exists in a wider ecosystem that includes a bank, hotels, restaurants, hardware stores and service stations. And with 3.7 million Finnish people (67% of the population) using the S Group loyalty card (S-Etukortti), the brand is well placed to wield the wealth of its accumulated data.

Working with technology, data and design company Solita Helsinki, S Group built upon the 2019 launch of the brand’s Carbon Footprint Calculator and the 2020 launch of its Nutrition Calculator, to create audience intuitive visualisations of the decades of data the brand had collected.

S Group integrated the data visualisation service into the brand’s Omat Ostot (My Purchases) smartphone app and made it available through the Omat Ostot website. The visualisations are kept simple, with easy-to-read graphs showing individualised shopping trends covering a range of important information.

Data on a customer’s nutritional information, CO2 footprint, spending habits, shopping trends and domestic purchases can all be viewed and even compared against the wider S Group database. This allows people to see how their purchases compare with other users, ranging from a local S Group supermarket user all the way up to a national demographic comparison.

Results / According to the case study video, the campaign increased revenue by 13.9% with more than half a billion store visits logged through the app. In addition, 10% of the population of Finland continue to use the app with 48% of users admitting to changing their purchasing behaviour, for example eating more local food and/or vegetables and cutting their CO2 emissions. It also won a Gold in Media at the 2021 Cannes Lions Festival. 

Contagious Insight 

Big Data / How do you do use customer data without being accused of insidiously doing so for corporate gain or infringing on consumer rights? Turns out that in research conducted by KPMG, the majority of consumers would be happy to share their data if it improved their own personal experience. In other words, it is critical to ensure relevance for the consumer.

We recently covered how Pedigree sidestepped EU GDPR tracking restrictions and used its data to specifically target dog owners through an algorithm that targeted their dogs with dynamic-out-of-home ads. Here the dog food brand ensured relevance with its target audience and as a result, no one batted an eye at the ethical implications of tracking dogs to target their owners.

S Group’s Omat Ostot app uses a lot of personalised and sensitive data to provide an incredibly useful tool for its consumers. Worried about your carbon footprint? The CO2 calculator feature can help you reduce it. If you want simplified nutritional information to help you stay healthy, there is a nutritional calculator for that as well. This high level of personalisation ensures that the service is relevant for all consumers looking to make more informed purchasing decisions.

But most importantly, it’s putting the information at the hands of the customer rather than positioning it as a tool for the company. 

Simply does it / We are all constantly bombarded with messages encouraging us to change our purchasing habits, whether that is to eat less sugar, buy local, or to consider carbon footprints.

But actually implementing these changes is a lot more complicated in practice for consumers wishing to change their own purchasing behaviour.

What S Group’s Omat Ostot service does is respond to this consumer demand and eliminate the consumer pain point of having to stop mid-shop and collate all this information themselves. In fact, we have seen a similar initiative last year from another Scandinavian country. Danish supermarket group Coop DK introduced a climate impact tool into its mobile app. Rather than an all-around service, Coop DK highlighted the carbon footprint of a consumer’s purchases and allowed them to see which products have the largest carbon footprint.

With S Group creating a fully integrated service, the Finnish co-operative goes a step further, collecting, collating and personalising the crucial information for each shopper, placing it firmly on the side of the conscious consumer. In doing so it’s also engendering loyalty. The shopper has a real reason to continue spending with S-Group versus another supermarket, because, armed with a wealth of knowledge about themselves, it can help them make more informed spending decisions. 

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