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Unpacking the Reasons Behind the Scepticism Towards Tesco Clubcard

Tesco Logo in the Dark
Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

Tesco is an instantly recognisable brand in the UK. Whilst it might not be the most popular supermarket chain, it's certainly the biggest. Whether you choose to shop at their smaller local stores, their massive supermarkets or you prefer to shop online and have your groceries delivered, there’s one thing you’ll need. A Clubcard.

Without Tesco’s loyalty card, you’ll find yourself spending so much more than you would have had you signed up to Clubcard. It's incredibly easy to do, especially now you can use the app, negating the need for a physical card. The question many people have is why does it allow for such large discounts. Many people on social media are quite sceptical, some say it's a disgrace how expensive items can be without the Clubcard discount. So why not just sign up? Well for many it's a case of privacy.

The reason Tesco wants you to own a Clubcard comes down to data. You may instantly think Tesco simply wants to sell your data but it might not be in the way you first think. This isn’t about selling your name, address and content details. In truth that isn’t very useful to Tesco, especially when the open register has that information already. It's a much more useful collection of data, about your shopping habits.

To a Supermarket, knowing what you buy, how much of it and how often is incredibly valuable information. They can see the different shopping habits in different areas of the country and target certain promotions in certain areas. They can tailor the rewards they offer you based on what you purchase to entice you to spend more money. For example, if you buy a certain brand of biscuits every week but the price increases and you choose not to purchase them anymore, they could give you a personalised offer one week in an attempt to get you to purchase that item once again.

Some people aren’t very comfortable with Tesco doing this and so will choose to not join the Clubcard loyalty scheme. Tesco is aware of this and so will increase the normal prices of items to try and convince you to join Clubcard. If you want to shop online either for click-and-collect or home delivery you have to have a Clubcard. Especially during the pandemic, this must have meant an uptake in people signing up for Clubcard meaning Tesco gained even more data on shopping habits from even more people.

Whilst privacy is an understandable reason to not sign up for Clubcard, you really shouldn’t be too worried. The UK has some of the strictest data protection laws in the world. Anyone who is even remotely involved in handling data will shudder at the sound of GDPR but it's there for a reason. Tesco doesn’t sell your data. They only use it in-house. Your data is connected to you but it's not benefiting anyone other than Tesco and possibly yourself depending on the discounts received. They can see what items are frequently bought together and arrange the aisles accordingly. They can see that you may be more likely to buy one item one week and another item the next but not in the same transaction so tailor your personal discounts week by week. They can see if you prefer to shop at the little or larger stores and build stores in areas of the country based on that data. They can even use it in their banking division to gain a better understanding of you and give discounts on things like car insurance if you are seen as a more trustworthy customer.

The main thing to remember with Clubcard is whilst yes it is collecting your data, it's not being sold outside of Tesco. You will never be worse off as a customer by having one, it will only ever give you discounts. For Tesco, it's essentially a win-win situation. Tesco makes more money by having a greater understanding of how to run their stores and the customer saves money by having discounts that are personalised rather than blanket discounts that cannot be offered on certain products due to the profit they would lose. In truth there's no reason to not have one, your data will be safe thanks to the strong data protection laws in this country.


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