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CASE STUDY - Nectar Card: The Data Behind the Brand

Commentary by Louise Cantrill,Campaign Services Manager, Nectar

The success of loyalty card programs—such as the one instituted by Nectar in the United Kingdom—is highly dependent upon the quality of the data behind them. Through numerous brick-and-mortar and online partners, approximately 50 percent of UK households participate in the Nectar loyalty card program. Since its launch in 2002, Nectar has given back more than £1 billion worth of rewards to collectors. Nineteen Nectar cards are swiped every second of the day.

To join Nectar, shoppers register online or complete paper-based forms available in stores. The Nectar membership database holds details of millions of opted-in households. Nectar uses this information to present targeted, relevant offers to collectors on behalf of the companies that participate in the Nectar program.

“Nectar is trusted by millions of people,” explained Louise Cantrill, campaign services manager at Nectar. “Collector information is our most valuable asset and the quality of that information is everything to us; it’s fundamental to our brand, our partners, and our compliance with the UK Data Protection Act.”

High Business Value

By 2004, Nectar was clearly a hit. Households all over the UK were collecting points. Retail and service partners were making as many as 50 extracts a month from their Nectar databases to gain intelligence to guide campaigns.

“With the ever-increasing importance of our collector database to partners, we needed closer control over data quality,” Cantrill said. “We made business management responsible for it and pursued a more systematic approach to spotting issues in records, adding missing information, and identifying duplicates.”

Automated Data Quality

Nectar defined, tested, and implemented an extensive and rigorous set of business rules to allow it to better understand the nature of its data and expose and correct issues within it. “Today our quality processes are very advanced, both at a real-time data entry level and on an ongoing batch-maintenance basis,” said Cantrill. “We are confident in our data integrity; quality is now business as usual for us.”

Given the varied quality of source data, Nectar is proud of the accuracy of the contact information it holds. In its active collector database, some 96 percent of its address records are considered to be 100 percent accurate.

Sophisticated Projects

Data quality for Nectar may now be a standard process in regard to Nectar registrations and maintaining ongoing data accuracy. But there are also nonstandard projects in which good data quality is essential.

For example, in a multimillion-pound rebrand in 2007, Nectar mailed more than 10 million collectors with new Nectar cards, replacing cards up to five years old. It was one of the largest “recard” mailings in Europe.

For each individual, a personalized card, and later a pack, were produced. These had to then be matched together and mailed. In the intervening weeks, however, there were 300,000 suppressions on the grounds of data latency. Nectar identified these suppressions, saving more than £150,000 in production and mailing costs and ensuring the right cards got to the right people, protecting the integrity of the Nectar brand and reputation.

Final Word

The benefits of excellent data quality processes are integral to the success of Nectar. Certainly considerable savings are made through maintaining low rates of returned mail. But much more significantly, Nectar would be seriously undermined if collector data lacked integrity, as this would lead to a loss of faith with collectors and partners.

For a free white paper on this topic, click here and choose the title “The Challenges of Worldwide Data Quality.”

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