Tesco can teach the NHS a trick or two about customers, says Jane Thomas

If you are a Clubcard member then there is a good chance that Tesco knows more about you than your next door neighbour - or the NHS.

As we continue to discuss the mass customisation of health and social care and how we can become more customer/patient/people centric, here is a book that shows how a once lowly retailer has done just that in a very tangible way.

It charts the early mistakes (“the banana man of Worcester”), painful changes to corporate culture (changing the belief that “it’s just an electronic green shield stamp” to ensuring all corporate decisions are based on consumer insight) and innovative IT.

It details how, through embracing segmentation and customer relationship marketing principles, the Clubcard team went from “drinking from the fire hose of data” to having an intelligence asset that played key role in Tesco’s business success, diversification and current status as Britain’s largest private sector employer.

Foundation trusts may find inspiration in the discussions of recruitment, retention and loyalty and the importance of keeping data “rich, relevant and recent”. Public health practitioners may be interested in consumer behaviours and tipping points. General observers could find out more about marketing concepts.

While there may be valid concerns about Tescopoly I believe this book has a useful place in today’s health service debates.

Jane Thomas is head of insight and social marketing at Liverpool primary care trust and an associate of the National Social Marketing Centre.


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