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  • Hugo Walker

The rise of yearly round-ups: Tesco’s new Clubcard Unpacked, loyalty cards and big data

Tesco launches Clubcard Unpacked — inspired by the success of Spotify Wrapped — which allows customers to see their favourite products and most popular purchases

Spotify Wrapped seemed to scratch an itch in everyone’s brains. There is something so satisfying and self-indulgent about seeing the statistics of your life presented in front of you like that, or being able to proclaim that you’re in the top 0.5% of Fleetwood Mac listeners.

Spotify’s round-up success has seemingly opened up a whole world of Wrapped equivalents. Tesco’s Clubcard Unpacked is the latest Year-in-Review launched for individual customers to see their most purchased items, their total savings, as well as their favourite meal deal combinations. But any company with enough data on individual consumption habits that form a significant part of our lives - banks, supermarkets, streaming platforms like Netflix - could jump on the Year-in-Review bandwagon.

Not all feel so whimsical and exciting as the magnum opus Spotify Wrapped - I personally felt sick to my stomach when my Revolut bank account offered a Wrapped-style yearly insight into my spending habits the year that I lived directly opposite a 24-hour Sainsbury’s, forcing me to reckon with an embarrassing number of late night Kinder Bueno trips.

These Year-in-Reviews seem to work best when the consumption in question contains an element of personality and the customer’s personal and cultural tastes - so it was an excellent choice for Tesco to include the Meal Deal analysis, which has become a staple of British lunchtime culture and bizarrely provoked fierce debate.

Tesco’s new Unpacked feature reflects the primacy of loyalty cards in the supermarket industry: how discounts don’t just pay for loyalty, but for data, insights into our personalised shopping habits, and our individual consumption. The key word here is individual - business analysis of general sales performance has of course been practised within companies since the beginning of time, but an analysis of individual consumer habits is the relatively new part - which is where, of course, loyalty cards and online shopping come in.

While the data collected by companies on their customers' shopping habits typically used to stay within the company — a crucial tool for performance analysis and so on — the rise of the yearly round-up represents how this data is now being turned outwards, presented to customers, used for engagement, and not just for private performance analysis.

The marriage of big companies having so much data on significant parts of our life - what we listen to, what we eat, what we watch - along with consumer self-involvement (and I include myself in that) which gives us some sort of satisfaction from seeing round up statistics on our everyday lives, has opened up this new world of Year-in-Reviews.

How many of us have wondered how many hours of our life we’ve spent asleep? Or how many words you’ve said in your life? Yearly round-ups seem to partially answer some of those relentless existential musings (“I’ve spent eighty-three days this year listening to music!” or “I spent £854 on pints this year!”) and resonate deeply with the strange human tendency to want to quantify our lives in some way. Maybe one day, a kid will wonder how many sandwiches they’ve eaten in their lifetime, and actually get an answer to that question.


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