tm on Tue, 8 Apr 1997 02:34:30 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Club Tesco


Tescos is now the leading supermarket in the UK.
Its superior marketing strategy
has ensured its  championship
in the supermarket wars.

- Safeway, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Kwiksave, Gateway -
Tescos outstrips them all

Recently an errant vicar was punished for
speaking out publicly in favour of shoplifting
from big supermarkets.
Its their fault anyway, he claimed,
for destroying communities
and contributing to moral decay.

The vicar realised his congregation had disappeared
because they were worshipping at Tescos
on sunday morning.
If the new cathedrals of light are computers
their precursors are supermarkets.
As Internet evangelists make righteous claims
about the reestablishment of community
through the computer networks,
so too do supermarket chains
promise to deliver services to the community
to atone for building a new out_of_town shopping store
over some happy bit of woodland.
My local Tescos in Finsbury Park, London
underscores my love/hate relationship with the Queen of
Because actually,it is the only place i get
to see my Finsbury neighbours
see them having rows with their screaming kids,
see the young rude girls and boys drop in
to organise the evenings entertainment with
the checkout assistants.
But this is community behaviour in spite of Tesco policy
not because of.
They do make attempts to integrate community
and shopping behaviour
into marketing strategy.
Eg the introduction of 'singles night' at the city centre Tesco Metro
stores. But its always a mistake
to systematise and make overt
the hidden uses of supermarkets.

Tescos best marketing weapon was the clubcard,
the supermarkets ploy in cultivating loyalty -
a giant community of Tesco shoppers.
On a database.
Everybody wins - The supermarket accumulates  names and addresses, monitors
individual shopping habits,
stocks the shelves accordingly
and offers a personalised service.
The shopper is rewarded with a  plastic card, an account number
some points, some prizes and some letters through the door.
Its a relationship made in heaven.
Give, and you will receive.
Tescos  has the technology and the marketing strategy
 to make you feel a unique and special member of the club.

However so personalised is the communication between us
I might be forgiven for thinking I am  the only member.

If the clubcard was devised in order to decrease alienation
and increase personal contact then why can't Tescos
let me see who else is on their clubcard database?
Then I might not feel so alienated.
The database is a  new point of assembly -
we do not congregate at church or in town squares or even in supermarkets
but as records on a thousand databases.

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