MARKETING SUPERSTARS;TESCO'S CLUBCARD;GRANT HARRISON

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LONDON-Grant Harrison is just 31, but he's already a rising star at Tesco, one of the U.K.'s largest supermarket retailers, with sales of $15 billion. The New Zealand native is the manager of Tesco's 9-month-old Clubcard, already hailed as the U.K.'s most successful loyalty strategy.

Clubcard accounted for a third of Tesco's 6% volume jump in just six months, contributing to the chain's having the fastest sales growth in the grocery retail industry this year. Following Clubcard's success, Tesco rivals J. Sainsbury, London, and Argyll Group, Hayes, England, introduced their own cards.

Clubcard rewards customers for shopping at Tesco, discounting about 1% for any purchases higher than $8 for seniors and students, and higher than $15 for the general public.

"We positioned Clubcard as a thank-you to our customers, as a reward for shopping with us," Mr. Harrison said. "None of our competitors had done that."

Mr. Harrison and his young marketing team started working on Clubcard two years ago. It tested in 14 stores with 250,000 participants for a year before being introduced nationally in February. More than 6 million, or about 30%, of the U.K.'s 20 million households have signed up.

"One of the reasons Clubcard has been so successful is because we have had strong support from the stores," Mr. Harrison said. Managers from all 523 Tesco outlets met before the card's national launch to learn about the strategy behind it from board members.

Mr. Harrison introduced the card nationally to coincide with Tesco's new customer initiatives, including policies minimizing checkout lines and issuing discounts on branded products.

"The store was looking pretty good. There was good service. Then Clubcard came in and captured everyone's imagination," Mr. Harrison said. Clubcard took Tesco's theme "Every little helps," with a multimedia campaign by Lowe-Howard Spink headlined "Thank you, Mrs. Jarvis," to thank customers for shopping there.

Clubcard helps Tesco track customer buying habits and targets them for promotions.

"You can target people who are spending less than you would expect for that type of customer, and then you've got [a marketing] opportunity," Mr. Harrison said.

Tesco is enticing Clubcard members with in-store events such as wine-and-cheese tastings, and has introduced student and senior citizen cards to address these groups' needs.

"We're getting smarter and smarter," Mr. Harrison said.

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