The first 8 months of the new Co-op Membership

We’ll be talking a lot about Co-op Membership, in the company of many of our members, at our Annual General Meeting tomorrow. We’ve also just had a retrospective where leaders from across our business got together to look at Membership. We reminded ourselves of what we originally set out to achieve, evaluated our progress and discussed what’s gone well and areas we feel we can improve on.

This seems like a good time to talk about where we’re at.

A good start

We launched the new membership scheme back in September last year and we’ve been blogging about the progress we’ve made since.

In January, we posted about our ambition: we want 1 million new members this year. Last week, Mike Bracken announced that we’ve reached 850k new members. It’s been a fantastic team effort to get to this point.

Members have earned over £45 million from the 5% they get back by buying our own-brand products and services. They also earn 1% for local causes and since September they’ve accumulated £9 million. Last month we gave that £9 million to over 4,000 local causes across the UK.

And it’s not just about new Membership. We’ve also reconnected with our loyal existing members. Since September, almost 1 million of our existing members have started to use their cards again. This means we now have 4.5 million active members trading across all our businesses.

You can see how membership is doing here.

But there’s still room for improvement

We’re pleased with what we’ve achieved over the past 8 months but there’s still much more to do. We’ve been listening to feedback from colleagues, members and customers along the way so we can continue to improve things. We do regular user research and retrospective reviews to make sure we’re continually building a membership scheme that works for our members. This is reflected in our service map that Jack blogged about recently.

photograph of Membership service map.

Just 7% of members chose a local cause during the first 6-month cycle

Members love the idea of choosing a local cause to support with the 1% they earn on own-brand purchases, but they’ve also told us that choosing a cause needs to be easier.

The team has been working hard to make it simpler on the website. We’ve iterated our design in line with learnings from research and the rate of members choosing a cause has increased by over 10%. We’re now looking to make choosing a cause simpler and more accessible in store.

There’s some confusion around reward structure

Screenshot shows Membership dashboard and rewards in punds and pence. And dividends.

We found that people get confused when a loyalty scheme rewards them with ‘points’. They ask: ‘but what are they worth?’ To make things simpler, Co-op rewards are shown in pounds and pence. But, because Co-op members are rewarded in 3 ways (dividend points, the 1% community reward and the 5% member reward) there’s still some confusion with members around how much they’ve actually earned and how to spend it.

We’ve been doing trials in store to make it easier to understand what the 5% means in terms of value by highlighting receipts, printing coupons with value and changing labeling on the shelves. We’ll be looking at making our communications simpler through things like member pricing and member baskets.

Not enough temporary member cards are fully registered

At the moment, customers can pick up a temporary card in store and start collecting rewards immediately. Then they need to register their temporary card online to become members and to be able to use their rewards. Not as many people are doing that as we’d like so we’re looking at how we can make it easier to do the whole thing in store.

We’ve been testing different options and will be running more pilots in June including use of in-store tablets and SMS messaging. We have also been considering how we take the £1 share payment. This is a really important step to be recognised as a member and we need to make it easier.

Helping more members have their say

When you’re a member you have the chance to influence what we do and how we do it by joining in. The membership website offers opportunities to ‘Get involved’. Recently, members sampled our new beers and wrote the tasting notes – a great example of the Co-op difference! Although we’ve seen some fantastic involvement from members, we think we can do more to help them find out about the opportunity in the first place.

We know that most involvement has been from new members, aged under 30, who have seen the ‘Get involved’ section of the site when they’ve completed registration. We’re looking at how we can display these opportunities in the right places to make them much more easy to find for all members.

Where we’re going from here

We’ve been listening to colleague, member and customer feedback as we’ve been going along so we can make improvements. We’ll never stop doing that. Next we’ll be thinking about new products and services we can launch, and we’re developing a plan as to how we’ll better meet our members needs on mobile throughout the rest of the year.

This is just the start. There’s a lot more to come.

Roberto Hortal
Director of Membership Products and  Services

Being trusted with data

Being ‘trusted with data’ is something we talk about a lot. It is, of course, what we’d like to happen to the Co-op. To help us reach that point, we’ve done some work to define what it means to us and we’ve just begun to look at how we’re going to develop our ideas in 3 areas.

We spoke to lots of groups within the Co-op including our Digital Advisory Board before deciding that we believe being trusted with data is made up of 3 things. These are:

  1. Integrity.
  2. Transparency.
  3. Meaningful consent.

Image shows a triangle with 'Co-op: trusted with data' in the centre and the each of the 3 corners has one of the following words in it: 'integrity', 'transparency' and 'meaningful consent'.

Here’s how we’re developing these 3 areas.

Being transparent with how we’re using data

We want to build the right set of tools and technology to manage and link our data across the Co-op. We’re calling the concept our ‘data layer’, and we’re using ‘layer’ rather than ‘hub’ because we think our approach should be consistent and integrated across the Co-op, as opposed to being centralised. Most importantly, like Mike said at the Co-op AGM 2016, we’re committed to becoming transparent with how we use our data.

To do this we want to understand more about which processes, habits, culture and tools we should adopt to meet our members’ data needs. Our first step to building a data layer is to start a discovery using a multidisciplinary team and user research-lead approach to find out:

  • what we need to do to be trusted with data
  • which expectations can we set or stretch
  • how can we communicate with them on the topic of data
  • how a data layer looks in terms of engineering and data management and what opportunities that offers

We’ve just kicked off this piece of work so we’ll talk more about this later in the year.

Data integrity

Data integrity is about about making sure that data is correct, well-managed and secure. Our Head of Data Governance and Integrity, Ian Thomas will tackle this in 2 ways:

  1. By helping us think about data standards, usage and regulatory requirements as part of everything we do. Ian’s already working directly with our Membership team to simplify how we handle member data. This will make it easier to be transparent around how we hold it. We’re also working closely with Rob Bowley and the engineering team on information security.
  2. By working towards consistent standards and approaches to our data across the Co-op with the wider data governance community. We believe that by co-operating with our colleagues we can share good practice and improve our governance.

Consent to use and share data

The third area we’re looking at is consent for us to use and share data. This is a topic that organisations don’t like talking about if they don’t have a position of transparency. We’re going to start the conversation with our members about data consent because we think that speaking to them will help us do the right things with data and will help us gain their trust.

Initially we’ll use our Member Voice surveys to start asking questions about data consent, and we’ll be speaking about it at our AGM. We’re also holding an event called Shaping our Co-op: Data Trust and Transparency Event to get feedback from our members on trust and consent. In combination with the data layer research we aim to get a comprehensive view of what we need to build in order to be truly trusted with data.

We’ve just begun these important pieces of work and we’ll keep talking about them.

Rob McKendrick
Head of Data Engineering

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

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

Looking for different ways members can get involved with Co-op

Recently we started looking at different ways in which our members can get involved with our Co-op and share their opinions. Some examples of what members have supported so far are:

To get involved, members simply go to Co-op Membership and find something they’d like to join in with. 

Screen shot of the local causes areas of our website
Co-op Membership 

Not everyone is confident with digital channels and there’s a perception that it’s only young people who will embrace things like this. It would be a shame if that was the case, because the invitation to participate is open and relevant to all our members.

To make sure that we’re including as many our of members as possible we’re keeping an eye on the sign-up data. Using this we’re learning what we can do better.

This data is handled anonymously, sensitively and securely. This is about us using data for the benefit of our members to help us to be an inclusive Co-op.

I had a look at some of the data and plotted the following histograms of the ages of Members who signed up for the opportunities listed at the start of this post:

An image showing co-op Member ages and sign up's to our Join In initiative

To me, this data tells us we’re attracting members from a wide range of ages. The different opportunities themselves are appealing to different ages too. There’s a lot more to be said about this data but I’ll leave it there for now and welcome readers to comment.

Alex Waters
Data Science