/ Food & Drink, Health

Can Tesco’s Clubcard nudge you into healthier choices?

No junk food sign

Bad food habits can be hard to break, especially without a tasty incentive. Would special Clubcard vouchers for fruit and veg help you to cut down on the unhealthy treats in your trolley?

Tesco has announced plans to tap into its vast wealth of Clubcard data to help its customers make healthier choices. Clubcard customers’ shopping habits are already tracked in great detail, but Tesco’s new plan would allow anyone trying to form healthier habits to take a more thoughtful approach to their shopping.

I’ve got myself into some bad habits of late, buying more chocolate and ice cream than I really should. I don’t use a supermarket loyalty card, partly because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of receiving tempting vouchers promising me money off foods I really should cut down on. That’s how most schemes seem to work at the moment – you get vouchers on the foods you buy the most often, or for foods that are related to them.

Helping customers get their five a day

It’s early days for Tesco’s plan, but it looks as though calorie-conscious customers who opt in to the new service will instead receive vouchers for healthier foods, like fruit and veg. This certainly sounds like a more helpful option, rather than serving to perpetuate bad habits by offering incentives on foods that are high in saturated fat, salt or sugar.

You could argue that essential foods like fruit and vegetables should already be well within a shopper’s budget, so perhaps special offer vouchers would not help. Personally, I know I need to eat plenty of healthy, unprocessed foods, but tubs of ice cream still sneak their way into my basket every week all the same.

Tough enough to tackle temptation

I think I might even respond more positively to a tougher scheme – perhaps supermarkets could track my shopping and remove points or vouchers from me every time I buy a product on my naughty list. Or why not go further? Say I set a limit of two tubs of ice cream every month – when I go over my quota, the checkout assistant would see a notification and have to get a supervisor to process the ice cream for me. It might sound a little extreme, but the mortification of having my ice cream habits laid bare for all to see would be a big incentive for me to stick to my two tub limit.

Such a scheme would need to work across all supermarkets, though, otherwise I’d probably end up buying two tubs a month from every store.

It’s clear that any program to nudge shoppers towards healthier behaviours will be fraught with complexities. We’re all different – some motivators will work wonders for some people, while having no effect on others. I do appreciate any steps away from promotions on foods that should be treats, rather than everyday staples. Many people have strong willpower and I admire that, but people like me do need a helping hand.


If Tesco are so worried about all the junk I buy, why not just stop selling it ? Oh wait they’re not really.

The words “marketing gimmick” spring to mind.

I occasionally buy twenty, or so, packs of biscuits for work colleagues. What do I get in return? A money off voucher for dental fixative. That’s brilliant lateral thinking. It’s not the job of supermarkets to be a social conscience, even if it does make good business sense. (Look at us, we really care about you.) Society, as a whole, needs to promote healthy eating, such that manufacturers find it less profitable to produce foods high in fat and sugar because they are not being bought. After that, I’m afraid, like the cigarette, it’s down to each of us to do what’s right. Education, education, education.

Your anecdote made me laugh, Vynor. You might get a voucher for toothpaste next time, but at least you will be appreciated by your colleagues.

Noting that Tesco has installed a conspicuous display for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in my local store, I rather doubt their motives. Call me a cynic, but I suspect that there is a more profit to be made on selling healthy food, or maybe the intention is to get us eating healthy food as well as the junk.

What’s next? Will Tesco be telling us that we should not be drinking more than 21 units of alcohol per day? 🙂

I want all our Supermarkets to reduce the price of healthy foods. All the salads in the supermarkets are on multiple buy offers. I don’t wish to buy 2 or 3 bags of salad or herbs to get a reasonable price as they do not stay fresh for very long. I want them to charge a reasonable price per bag. The same applies to fruit.

Multi[le buy offers are welcome on non fresh products or ones you can freeze, but not on salad or fruit.

I emailed the CEO of Tesco the other week, with around 15-20 observations on what I think they could be doing better, this was one of them. They weren’t interested. I guess profits > customer service.

Perhaps we should start a Twitter campaign!

Martin says:
2 June 2013

As a single person, I agree with Figgery’s comment. I would like to see more use of sales systems like “pick and mix” in the fresh veg, fruit and salad areas ie whatever mixture you want sold by total weight, say £1.00 per lb (or 0.5kg), or whatever. If they did it sensibly, there would probably be less waste food at the end of the day.

One cucumber for 80 or 90p and two for a pound is a bit of a challenge for a single person who wants to avoid wasting food.

I have Tweeted Tesco with my complaint re multibuys on salads and satsumas. I had to give details of specific produce before we could proceed further. I think the person who responded thought I was complaining they were too cheap.

Tweeting is not a satisfactory way of complaining as you do not see your Tweet in the company page and other customers are unable to see it AND 140 characters is just too few to say what I want to say.

I suggest you send Tesco an email at customer.services@tesco.co.uk

I recently received a prompt response regarding downsizing of Tesco detergent capsules.

Or if you want to go to the head cheese directly like I do, use ceo.customerservice@tesco.co.uk

Although I’ve not been impressed with the responses.

I’ve just spent 20 mins looking at the “other posts” on the Tesco Facebook page, loads of examples of the things I mentioned to the ceo that they could/should be improving upon.

I’m reluctant to use Facebook for my ‘Meldrew’ activities as my friends and family already think I’m like Victor Meldrew and I don’t really want to give them any more fodder. I’ll have a look at the Tesco Facebook page and decide if it’s worth using. If you are able to see other complaints then it may be worth using and of course there is not the limitation of 140 characters.

Wavechange and William.

Thanks for the email addresses. I sent another Tweet this morning requesting the name and email address of the manager responsible for the multibuy pricing policy on salads and fresh fruits.

The only CEO that replied to my email was Dido Harding of Talk Talk. I was ignored by the Chairman and MD of John Lewis, my email was not even forwarded to the relevant department. Now I would have expected it to be the other way round with the reputations of both companies.

The CEO of Tesco has at least one person who replies to emails on his behalf, I’m not sure if the CEO has actually been shown any of the ones I’ve sent him though

I do not really expect the CEO’s to get involved with my issues, but I do expect their staff to shunt my comment or complaint to the relevant person or department, for action.