How members joined in, drank beer and wrote the tasting notes

We set up the Co-op Member Voice team to, well, give Co-op members a voice. We’ve been engaging with members both online and in their communities in many ways. We’ve asked them to ‘join in’ and talk to us about their favourite pizza toppings, we’ve arranged community dog walks and we’ve done an awful lot of baby talk!

By speaking and listening to our customers and members, we’ve got a better chance of both meeting their needs and giving them what they’d like.

One of our first Member Voice engagements was when we gave 100 active members in Holmfirth 6 bottles of wine so they could host their own wine tasting event. We asked for their thoughts and used their recommendations and tasting notes in point of sale material in the Holmfirth store. All 6 types of wine saw an increase in sales when the member testimonies were seen by customers.

One of our most popular opportunities was when we asked members about their favourite local real ales. Over 900 members waxed lyrical about their favourite local tipples and you can see what we learnt on the main Co-op blog.

Try the beer, write the tasting notes

We had a big response to these opportunities so in January we invited 100 members to taste 3 brand new, not-even-in-the-shops-yet, Co-op own-brand beers: IPA, Triple Hop and Golden Ale. We asked members to taste them and tell us what they thought for the chance to see their tasting notes on the labels.

It’ll be interesting to see if members and customers react to the member comments on the packaging keeping in mind the successes of the Holmfirth wine trial on local wine sales.

Beer sampling on social

As you can imagine it didn’t take long for the 100 cases to get snapped up. Members were thrilled to be asked to taste and give their thoughts on our new beers and ales and took to Twitter to share what they were doing. You can see some of their tweets by searching #coopjoinin.

image shows tweet with twitter image. tweet says: 'cheers COOP can't wait to buy more of these especially GOLDEN ALE, just simply exceptional. twitter image shows man holding bottle and glass of beer.

image of tweet which includes a twitter picture. tweet says: 'really enjoyed trying three new beers for @coopuk. the triple hop was our favourite - highly recommended. Thanks for letting us #coopjoinin'

The 100 tasters then filled in a survey about the beers and the Beers, Wines and Spirits team chose a comment about each beer that would be printed on the corresponding bottle.

The Golden Ale tasting notes were from Michael Gibbons, a Co-op member from Luton. 

image shows the The Golden Ale label with member's tasting notes: ‘A smooth ale with a golden caramel complexion, the perfect beer for a summer garden.’

Sam Dineley, a Co-op member from Bristol wrote the Triple Hop tasting notes.

image shows The Triple Hop label and tasting notes:‘A complex but complementary blend of hops gives this beer a rich and rounded flavour with a subtle and smooth aftertaste’

And the IPA comment was from Tom Packman, a Co-op member from Essex.

image shows IPA label with tasting notes: ‘Good, traditional IPA. Voluminous, good body and fruity hop.’

A meet-up in a brewery

We invited the 3 members whose notes were chosen to Frederick Robinson’s Brewery where we make and bottle the ales. After a full brewery tour, we were taken to the bottling plant to see the Triple Hop bottles coming down the line and being filled and packaged ready to head to our Co-op Food stores. Then we tasted some of Robinson’s customer favourites, along with the fresh off the line Triple Hop.

The Co-op ales go on sale in our Co-op Food stores on 13 March and our members’ voices are shouting loud and proud from the label!

You can join in with a Member Voice opportunity by logging into your Co-op Membership account.

If you’d like to become a member you can sign up for membership. Join us!

Visit drinkaware.co.uk for the facts about alcohol.

Terry McLeod
Member Voice team

Making it easier to become a member

Last week we announced we’ve reached the 500,000 new member mark since we launched our new Membership in September last year.  

Earlier this year we also said that we want a million new members in 2017 and with that in mind, it’s really important that first-time users can register as easily as possible. That’s why, in our last sprint, the Membership website team focused on improving the user journey and reducing drop-outs.

Completing the online registration

To get an online member account you have to register on the Membership site. If you’re already a member then it’s a case of registering your card (or temporary card) you bought in store.

When we looked at data, only 34% of people who started to sign up as new members, ie those who hadn’t got any kind of membership card from coop.co.uk/membership were completing the journey.

Improving things for this user group is key to achieving our target of a million new members this year. Someone signing up here is potentially a new member that we might never see again if they leave the site at this point.

Something didn’t quite add up

Google Analytics told us that we were losing a significant number of people at the point where we asked new members to pay £1. At first we assumed that paying £1 was too much for some customers. But the 34% successful sign up rate didn’t match well with what we were hearing from users we’d talked to. We found that although some people questioned why we charge £1, their reactions didn’t indicate that a massive 2 out of every 3 of them would be put off by it.

From this, we hypothesised that the poor conversion rate might be down to people who were already members arriving at the £1 payment page. They would have already paid to join, so they could be the ones leaving at this point.

There are over a quarter of a million members with temporary cards who haven’t registered them yet. We know that after 28 days the chances of a card being registered falls dramatically so designing a user journey that helps temporary card holders succeed first time and become ‘active’ is vital.

How we improved the user journey

To solve this we added in another step into the process for anyone wanting to join as a new member. The important interaction change we made was to ask the customer if they had a Co-op card, rather than asking them to remember if they were already members.

screen shot of the 'check if you're a member' page showing the three types of membership card
We included images of the old ‘honeycomb’ card, the new blue card as well as an image of a temporary card as visual prompts. From there, if they have a card we take their membership number and direct them to sign in or register. Now, they don’t see a screen asking them for another £1. We only let people who say they don’t have a card progress further.

It’s working

Our latest data shows that 58% people who are routed to join follow this journey successfully: they pay £1 and become members. That’s a significant increase. Those we now redirect automatically to register are completing their journeys successfully too – which in its own way is important.

As an aside we’ve also reduced the risk of members duplicating their membership by joining online when they already have a membership number. This reduces the burden on our call centre, which currently is the only way members can link their accounts if they have more than one.

What we’ll be working on next

Our next improvement is looking at the sign in journey.

So if you haven’t done it yet it’s now even easier to join us!

Derek Harvie
Product manager

500,000 new members since September

We’ve passed the 500,000 new member mark since we launched our new Membership in September last year.

With the additional 500,000 members (531,000 is the latest figure) we have 4.16 million active members. This is fantastic because it means that there are now 4.16 million people who are earning 5% for themselves and 1% for their local cause when they buy Co-op branded products.

Celebrating 4,000 local causes with films

There are now 4,000 local causes which members can choose to give their 1% to and we were lucky enough to work with Shane Meadows on a series of films about some of them. On Monday we held a screening of the director’s cut – a combination of all the films in the series. We invited some of the people Shane featured in the films as well as local Co-op colleagues and Co-op Council members.

photograph of people watching the join us film at the screening

Hard work is paying off

I’d like to thank the whole team for their hard work making things better for our members and the local causes our members support. Of course, we’re not finished yet. We’ve already said  we want a million new members in 2017 and Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow is one of the 90,000 members who joined us since 1 January.

Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow holding up his Co-op membership card next to a Co-op colleague

You can keep an eye on our progress on our Membership data page.

If you haven’t already, sign up to become a member. Join us.

Rufus Olins
Chief Membership Officer

Join us! We want a million new members in 2017

In 2017 we want to recruit 1 million new members to our Co-op. That’s a million more people who can join us in making a difference to causes in local communities.  

Picking up where we left off

We made big changes last year. Our return to a brand identity rooted in the Co-op’s history meant we went back to being Co-op’. We also went back to putting our members and their communities at the heart of everything we do. Since we launched the new Membership in September, our members have already earned around £16m for them and £3m for local causes. We update the figures each week on our Membership Data page.

Nothing made up

If you become a Co-op member you get 5% back on anything you spend on Co-op branded products as well as 1% to put towards a cause in your local community. In 2017 we’ll be spreading the word so more people know about the difference that choosing Co-op can make and more people will want to join us. To achieve this we’re changing the way we’re communicating with our members and potential new members.

‘Nothing made up’ is one of our communication principles and that means we show real people in real communities who can benefit from becoming a Co-op member. It made sense then to make the people who keep the local causes going in communities the stars of the show.

A young man in a wheelchair playing basketball in a sports hall.

We also wanted to strip back the gloss of advertising and make something unembellished and emotive and show people being completely natural in front of the camera. We were thrilled to work with director Shane Meadows who does all those things superbly. He also shares our values.  

Real people. Real communities. Real causes

So Shane has created a series of short films that show some of the 4266 causes (at last count) that are being supported every day by Co-op members. You can see the films on our Youtube channel.

Here’s the director’s cut which will be shown in cinemas across the UK from 20 January.  

This is just the start. 2017 marks a new way of advertising our Co-op. We offer value with values and we’re going to shout about it.

You can keep an eye on our progress towards the 1 million new members on the Co-op Membership Data page.

Join us. Sign up to become a member.

Helen Carroll
Head of Brand

How user research is helping us improve the Membership site

My name’s Simon and I’m one of the user researchers on the Co-op Membership team, alongside my colleague, Vicki Riley. It’s our job to understand what members and non-members need from the service and find out what they think of it. This way we can act on their feedback and continually improve things. Whilst we’re responsible for user research, the whole team get involved in research sessions and meeting users so they can empathise with the people who use the services we’re building. This ensures they design with the user, and not themselves, in mind.

We don’t just rely on one method of user research to find out how people feel about the Membership service. We gather feedback in lots of ways and I wanted to share these with you.

Feedback through the website

The website has a ‘give feedback’ link. As of today, 7 December 2016, we’ve had 9469 comments. We’ve analysed them all and have been comparing them with what we learn from our other research approaches.

Phone call follow up

We often do phone interviews with people who have said they’re happy to be contacted about the website feedback they’ve given. This allows us to get more detailed feedback and also find out how people expect things to work.

Online surveys

We sometimes do online surveys of which allow us to range a wide range of people quickly and easily. These surveys are around 4 or 5 questions long. We’ve found that the easier it is for someone to give us feedback, the more likely they are to leave some.

Speaking to people in labs

We also speak to people in our research labs. These sound far more ‘scientific’ than they actually are. Research labs are usually a room with a computer, a microphone and a camera allow the rest of the team to observe the research. We invite people in, talk to them about shopping, loyalty cards, online services and Co-op Membership. We then watch people using the service as they complete tasks such as registering a temporary card or choosing which local cause to support. I ask them to talk me through what they’re thinking as they use the service so that we understand how they’re finding it.

Store visits

We already visit stores but we plan to do more of this.

Tracking website traffic

Finally, we also gather analytics from the website. This allows us to understand which pages people are visiting, how long they’re spending on pages, what they’re clicking or selecting, and which error messages are triggered most frequently.

By using a combination of these research methods, we have access to a wide range of interesting data about how people use the service.

Using research findings to improve

So here’s an example of how we’ve used what we’ve learnt from our research to make a change.

We’d seen through lab testing that people didn’t always understand that they could choose their own cause to support with their 1% for your community reward. We found people thought that we decided for them, or that they would email us later on with their choice. They didn’t notice there was something on the screen that they could click to choose a cause. Here’s how the page used to look:

The Membership page before our design changes. Many users weren't sure how to choose their cause in the 'your community' box

The comments from the feedback link told us the same thing. People had commented:

“I can’t find where to vote regarding where the 1% goes.”
“How do I select my preferred local cause please?”
“Should be able to select which charities I want to support.”

The analytics were backing this up too. We saw that a significant number of people were getting to the page with the ‘call to action’ (the bit where they could choose a cause) but they weren’t actually selecting one.

The team came up with an alternative design to try and make it more obvious how the user could interact with the page. It was a simple content fix. We added ‘See your local causes’ inside the box about ‘your community’. When we tested it with people in the lab, they understood it – they knew what to do. So earlier this week we put it live. Now the page looks like this:

New design of the Membership page includes a simple content fix in the 'your community' box. It now says 'See your local causes'

It’s early days but we’ve already seen more people selecting their cause and therefore benefiting their community. We’ve seen a 10% increase already. We’ll be keeping an eye on the feedback to make sure we’ve improved the journey. We’ll continue to research regularly and as always we’ll keep using what we’ve learnt to improve the service.

Members can visit membership.coop.co.uk to choose a local cause. If you’d like to become a member you can sign up for membership.

Simon Hurst
User researcher on the Membership team

Publishing data on Membership

At the Co-op AGM 2016 we said that we’re going to use digital to make membership stronger and more vibrant.

Since then we’ve been engaging with members online and in their communities to give as many people a voice as possible. We shared the data we’d found around our active members once we’d defined what ‘active’ means back in August.

Part of the reason for publishing that data is to be clear on where we’re starting from. We can use these numbers to find out how much stronger and how much more vibrant the new Co-op membership is, and how engaged people are with it.

The data we collect belongs to all of us – that’s the nature of a co-operative. This is why we’ve created a Co-op Membership Data page where you can see:

  • the number of active members
  • the number of new members
  • how much our members have earned for themselves and local causes
  • how much members have spent in the core business

Screen grab of the Membership data page showing 3.92 million active members and 303,000 new members. Members have earned 9.72 million pounds worth of rewards and 26.6% of our food turnover is from our members

We’ll update the numbers every week and blog regularly about the progress we’re making.

Rufus Olins – Chief Membership Officer
Mike Bracken – Chief Digital Officer

Engaging with members online and in their communities

Last week, Alex blogged about the ways members are giving feedback through the opportunities on the Membership website. Members are already talking to us about existing products, ideas for new ones and ways we can improve their experience. Since September when we launched the new membership:

  • over 800 members have been helping our local sourcing team find the best British beers by suggesting local ales they want their Co-op to stock
  • 1300 members helped our food teams by answering questions about their favourite pizza toppings, bases and sauces
  • over 1000 members have helped the Co-op Brand team explore our baby ranges, pet food and Free-From range

We’ve always had a range of online opportunities that members can get involved in, but recently the Member Voice team have been organising offline opportunities within local communities that members can sign up to through the Membership website. The aim of the research is the same but it’s more personal and often more in depth. And often more fun!

Visiting members in their communities

One of the most useful ways to gather information on members and their relationship with the Co-op is to visit them. Me, Mark Robinson-Field and Jo Warburton from the Member Voice team have been out in communities, getting members together or catching up with them in their routines.

Dog walking in Wales

With the help of the local Member Pioneers and Deb Wozencraft, the Co-op Engagement Advisor covering Wales, we organised dog walks in Wrexham and Machynlleth. We wanted to find out about our members’ pet food buying habits so we could see if we’re meeting their needs. We asked them where they buy dog food and what type they go for, whether the Co-op is their first point of call or more of a top-up shop. We also asked whether they buy doggy treats from us.

Members and their dogs outside the Co-op store in Wrexham before the dog walk.

Baby talk in Didsbury

We also dropped in on a parent and toddler group in Didsbury to talk to members about their shopping habits when it comes to their children.

We asked parents to arrange cardboard cut-outs of various, unbranded baby/toddler products on a shelf. It helped us understand what they need from their local Co-op and which products, in which size packs, would be make their experience easier and quicker.

Activity completed by parents in Didsbury. Image shows the types of baby products parents would like to see stocked in their local Co-op.

It takes time, but it’s worth it

We’ve found that this kind of contextual research is invaluable because we get to see a slice of people’s lives. It helps us understand more about their lives, how we fit into them and how we can meet their needs better.

Members have been phenomenally generous with their time in supporting their Co-op. In fact, since September members have given over 780 hours of their time to making their Co-op better, that’s 33 days!

Members can visit membership.coop.co.uk to find out how they can make their local Co-op better for their community. If you’d like to become a member you can sign up for membership.

Our member voice team is growing. If you think you can help us understand and enhance the impact of our Join in activities, why not find out more and apply today?

Terry Mcleod