Developing and launching the UK’s biggest customer loyalty programme

Business challenge

Sainsbury’s, a leading UK grocery chain, decided they needed to change their proprietary customer loyalty programme. ‘Reward Card’ had been running for five years, but the programme lacked scale. An independent team of advisers, including many of the Tecsa management team, was asked to design, create and launch the UK’s biggest and most engaging reward programme.

The brief from Sainsbury’s was easy to write, but difficult to execute:

  • design and build a market-leading multi-partner reward programme
  • create a new brand and engage all partners
  • launch - creating the UK’s largest and most engaging reward programme


The team designed the programme from the bottom up and within six months had partnered with market leaders in fuel, retail and financial services. An independent organisation was established with customer data scientists and digital and offline marketers at the core.

Nectar launched in late 2002, and within six months became the UK’s largest and most engaging reward programme despite the grocer at the core having only half the share of the market leader.


Nectar continued to add new partners with customer membership growing to over 19 million. The programme remains at the heart of Sainsbury’s strategy providing superior insights into customer shopping behaviour enabling the extension into financial services, enhanced store location planning and range, assortment and promotional optimisations.

Lead partners and consultants:

Tony Buffin
Richard Campbell
Jonathan Bolden 

“Nectar gave Sainsbury’s direct access to nearly three times more customers than they ever had previously. Nectar was integral to Sainsbury’s transformation helping increase operating profits, grow market share, drive personalised customer engagement and services extensions."

Tony Buffin, Tecsa
Project Insight
19 million

By partnering with the UK’s largest consumer businesses, the customer reach for every participant was hugely increased.