Food News

myWaitrose: A lesson in not holding your nerve?

The Leeds Foodie is not a loyal supermarket customer. In fact I would say that in a lot of ways I am a lazy shopper in as much as I go to where is nearby. Yes, I sometimes have a slight degree of snobbery around the quality of food I buy. Yes, I like to buy meat from the butchers and fish from Kirkstall Market and when my wife and I feel dead lazy we will even use the likes of Ocado to do our shopping online. That said, Waitrose had started, just started, to inspire loyalty in me with their myWaitrose card until they completely ruined it…

It has been suggested on Twitter by a few people that the change in the myWaitrose card scheme (whereby the only real benefit, a free coffee in the café, was removed and replaced by an offer meaning that you can only get a free hot drink if you buy an item of food) was a positive thing. I can see their point of view that those cheapskates who set up a laptop and stay all day, or the people who just go in for a cup of coffee and literally never buy anything and who take the last few seats are annoying…but surely they miss the point.

The whole point as to why I thought the Waitrose scheme worked was based on the one stop approach that many successful companies such as Amazon, BT and even other supermarkets have attempted to create, where they lure you in with a few freebies (such as free BT Sport with BT) that cost them very little but really make a difference for customers who are unsure as to who to stay loyal to. With this in mind, Waitrose are not really giving out a ‘freebie’ (as my granddad loves to say “you don’t get owt for nowt”) as they are taking your data and making sure they tempt you in with much better advertising.

With the coffee gone, I personally feel less inclined to go to Waitrose. I liked to go there for a coffee and then to shop. I also often chose to buy something for breakfast on a weekend instead of heading to somewhere like Costa. No, I didn’t always do my ‘big shop’ at the time but it made me go into the store and spend a considerable amount of time there.

Finally, a high degree of the disdain for the free coffee scheme seems to be emanating from those in the ‘middle class’ demographic, who seem sometimes to take offence at people who are less well off going into Waitrose. However, surely even a supermarket that prides itself on quality and has an ‘essentials’ range should not be bowing down to a group of customers who regularly flock to the likes of Aldi and Lidl for whatever seems most fashionable at the time.

All in all, the myWaitrose card now seems to be pretty pointless, leaving it level with the Tesco clubcard, Sainsbury’s nectar card and only marginally above the truly worthless Morrisons and more card. With this in mind Waitrose has now lost its point of differentiation and for now at least my guaranteed custom.

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