#230: The Boots Iconic "Advantage" Programme in the UK Celebrates Its 25th Birthday

When it comes to loyalty programmes in the UK, the gold standard programme that consumers say they love the most is often the Boots Advantage Program.

2022 marks the 25th anniversary of this iconic programme, so “Let’s Talk Loyalty” was delighted to be joined by Hollie McLellan, Head of Customer Marketing and Loyalty for Boots UK, to discuss the company’s latest innovations and initiatives.

Join us to hear this masterclass in loyalty marketing, showcasing their new “Beauty Club” which features content marketing as a new loyalty driver, as well as their new “Price Advantage” proposition, and their exciting tests with gamification and subscription strategies.

Boots UK is truly an iconic retail brand so don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to learn how their Advantage Program is changing and innovating for the future.

Show Notes:
  1. Boots UK
  2. Boots Advantage Program
  3. My Beauty
  4. Boots X
  5. Hollie McLellan

Audio Transcript

Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas. And if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.


This episode is sponsored by Epsilon. Today I’m delighted to announce a unique opportunity for one lucky listener of Let’s Talk Loyalty to enjoy a complimentary workshop with the loyalty experts at Epsilon, one brand every month willl have the chance for unique, independent loyalty lab. A review of your loyalty program, where Epsilon will share their expert ideas, how to drive your program’s performance to a whole new level.


This workshop is a powerful way for you to measure and then increase the return on your investment in your loyalty program. So to apply head over to letstalkloyalty.com/epsilon and enter your details.


Hello, and welcome to today’s episode featuring one of the UK best known and best loved loyalty programs, The Boots Advantage Program. As this iconic loyalty program approaches its 25th birthday celebrations. I’m joined by Hollie McLellan, head of customer marketing and loyalty for Boots, UK. To learn about some of the groundbreaking new developments they have launched recently, including their price advantage proposition, and also the role of content marketing as a new driver of loyalty.


We also talk about some of the innovative new ideas that boots is testing with UK consumers, such as some trials and testing of both gamification and subscription strategies, ideas I’m sure will be loved by their members. Listen to this interview to learn how the Boots Advantage Program is continuing to evolve and innovate for the future with a clear focus on delighting its customers.


So Hollie, joining me today from Boots in the United Kingdom. Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty.


Thank you. I’m so pleased to be here. Looking forward to our chat.


Me too, Hollie, I think I said to you, that Boots was up on the wishlist from day one when I was kind of brainstorming who I’d want to interview. So this is a very exciting time for me.

And I know you’ve been doing some extraordinary work, actually. It’s just what, 10 months that you joined the company.


Yeah. I joined back in August last year and it’s been a bit of a roller coaster, but there has been lots of stuff actually. We’ve launched over the last sort of 10 months. So happy to share the learnings that we’ve had and maybe share about a little bit around what we’ve got coming next as well.


Wonderful. Yeah. And it was because I literally saw, I suppose, the, um, the changing strategy, Hollie. So fascinating on LinkedIn. So definitely be very excited to share that with everyone listening today. But before we get into that, as you know, I have a favorite first question to ask you personally, what is your favorite loyalty program? Hollie? 


This is a good question. I’ll have to think about this actually. So my favorite loyalty program is Deliveroo Plus. So for anyone that doesn’t know Deliveroo, it’s a food delivery service takeaways, deliver it straight to your door, a plus is a subscription service around that. So you pay 799 a month and you get unlimited delivery on orders over 10 pounds.

Wow. I think the reason why I’ve chosen it as my favorite is because. It actually has changed my behavior, right? So that’s a really good sign of a loyalty program working, but I think subscriptions are just super interesting in the loyalty space because you getting someone to invest upfront in a future purchase and actually having the.

You know, all you can eat, essentially, you know, delivery is you on, I think is a really smart way to do that. And certainly for me, it’s changed my behavior. So I’m more loyal to that app than any other one. I’ve definitely increased by frequency of purchase is probably not a good thing. Wow. But I think it’s a, it’s really simple to use as well.

So I think when we’re looking at, you know, what’s a good loyalty program now it’s, it’s, it’s no longer just about the rewards. It’s also about value for money and convenience is this super, super simple to use. And actually when you’ve got something like a Deliveroo Plus I can order food within a couple of clicks.I can get my subscription within, you know, one or two clicks as Apple Pay. I think for me, all of those things are really, really important and. I dunno, like I’m less interested in rewards. Actually. I think a lot of consumers are sort of moving that way as well. Is that just want the core proposition to be really good and really work.

And then the rewards can sometimes be like a nice little extra, but the meat of it has to do. I’ll say pretty good. 


Well, I think they’re are brilliant insights, Hollie. Um, I agree. Absolutely. There’s a level of, I don’t know whether to describe it as jadedness or cynicism around loyalty sometimes, you know, particularly for programs where we don’t know, you know, when and how we’re going to actually benefit.And so I definitely agree that getting the core proposition right is probably overlooked in terms of driving a feeling of loyalty. And I’ve often said on this show, we’re not actually here to talk about programs. We are here to talk about changing behavior. So I love that you’ve picked up on that with Deliveroo and I was thinking myself now here in Dubai, we’re probably less competitive as a market for delivery services.

But I can imagine it, if there was one that I opted into, then I would absolutely do all of my orders, which again are probably more than they should be. But that’s, you know, that’s a different topic for a different day, but in terms of using a service, I would definitely, I suppose, at least, you know, have the share of wallet benefits I can imagine for Deliveroo, which is quite extorted.


Yeah. And then, and then if you get some of these extra benefits on top, it’s nice. Right. But then you at least got that core thing that you, you, you bought into and you’ve bought into it because you want to use it in the future. And I think you have customers position where they’re actually doing that, then you’ve really, you know, you’ve really won.


I think it only applies to kind of a certain group of customers though. It’s not for everyone. So you probably need a sort of broader. Uh, loyalty or value strategy around that, but there’s a certain group of customers that super high value getting them into subscription is really smart. 


And, you know, I have a, you know, an ulterior motive of course, for asking that question and that’s to line up ideas for new guests on the show.

So thank you for giving me a new one and it sounds wonderful. So listen back to Boots, Hollie, as we said, you’re 10 months in the role. I know you had a wonderful background before and lots of different types of work, including Dunnhumby, some consulting work, but really, I suppose the reason I wanted you on the show was because Boots is iconic.

It has been operating. I think you told me now for 25 years, The Advantage Program. So tell us a bit about the, the history of the advantage program, just in terms of, I suppose its role in, you know, British consumer life I guess.


I mean, it’s one of the most loved loyalty schemes in the UK. I think 70% of women in the UK have a Boot Boots Advantage Card it’s got, yeah.

Pretty, pretty big reach. And it is, I think why people love it is, Boots the brand itself, well trusted, it has kind of a British heart to it. And I think, um, also the scheme has always been positioned as a treat as well. So Boots itself does both pharmacy and also beauty, um, kind of products and services.

And actually the, the scheme’s been set up as a way to collect points, to treat yourself, uh, often around the kind of beauty side of things. And I know a lot of consumers are quite protective over their points cause there are point in history when they were going to have a look at and making it as a household account, that you give your card with your partner.

Um, and actually a lot consumers didn’t want to do that themselves. Make sure they could, you know, at the end of the month, It’s definitely kind of one of those most well-known schemes in the country. Um, but it’s interesting though, you know, it’s had it’s, um, peak, I would say, in the, in its current form.

And I think interest in the scheme, um, has probably waned a little bit over the, you know, the last five or so years as is true for lots of loyalty programs, I think in the UK and probably elsewhere in the world. So I think for us, it was definitely time. Re-energize it relook at what consumers want today because the retail market has shifted.

So, uh, we used to walk down the high street and you would have a few options. Now you can go online if you’ve got as many options as you want at your fingertips. So earning customer loyalty through a loyalty program. Is slightly different. Now consumers want something a bit more media. Um, instant gratification, instant value is much more important now than it was all those years ago.

25 years ago, when the scheme started, I know, say this year we are celebrating the birthday. So we’ve got some lovely birthday celebration plans, uh, for August and September. So definitely watch out for those. 


Yes, absolutely. And I do want to touch on, I suppose, the proposition as I’ve experienced it. Um, and I think, you know, I’ve been out of Ireland for example, for five years.


And so probably a bit disconnected. What still is the one that is most respected? I think in the community. So I wanted to maybe talk you through just a couple of the reasons that I think it has been so successful and not withstanding, of course, as you said, we always need to re-energize our program, but of course there is the case of what is working and recognizing and retaining some of that.

But just before I pick up on those points, Hollie was kind of membership in numbers are we talking about in terms of the, the UK for Boots Advantage at the moment, just approximately. 


Yeah, approximately 15 million members in the UK.


Wow. Wow. Extraordinary. And I was trying to remember, I think the population there is about 60 million, so I think you’re about 25%. That’s unbelievable.


Yeah, it’s, um, it’s, it’s a privilege actually, to be part of the scheme actually, and sort of have this opportunity to be able to run it and sort of take into the future.


For Sure. For sure. So for me, I suppose the pieces that I have noticed, and I would guess I would even dare to say as a consumer, I would have picked up on these because they’ve been done so well.

And the first piece is the generosity. So, you know, if we look at supermarket loyalty programs or airline loyalty programs, obviously the reward rates can feel quite low, but boots has always had this 4% reward rates. So to me, that’s an extraordinary indicator of the intention of the company, I suppose, to be loyal to its customers.

So how has that piece am I suppose doing with your members at the moment? Is that something you’re going to continue going forward?


I think it’s an important part of the scheme always have a points reward element to it. So I know we’re going to talk about price advantage a little bit later on, but I think it will be an important part of the future.

And I think that’s also because of the frequency of purchase at beat. So. We’re not a grocery retailer in which a customer is going in. We can, we count and can accumulate points much, much faster with boots off frequency of purchase across the year is a little bit lower. So to make that trip meaningful and make you want to come back, there needs to be a substantial, um, you know, points that you’re receiving for each of your visits.

So I think definitely for us, it’s going to be important. Off the future to, to maintain that. And our customers love it as well. It’s one of the reasons why people come to Boots. So it’s definitely not something that we would want to take away. 


Oh, that’s great. To hear very pleased.




Yes. Wonderful.


And the second part again, which has always blown my mind is the, the degree to which the staff execute. And remind and encourage people at the point of sale. And I have many times, you know, first of all, I’ve often said on this show, Hollie, that I’m a very demanding customer in retail, because if anybody asks me to join the loyalty program, I usually will challenge them as to kind of why.

You know, because I feel like there has to be a reason that I’m going to invest that extra time at the till, but for Boots Advantage, honestly, your staff, it’s obviously part of their induction and ongoing ethics, I suppose, about running. And so I’d love just a sense of how do the staff tend to embrace the program in your experience?


I mean, it’s definitely a big part of the way that we set up our marketing campaigns, the way that we talk to our stores, it’s part of that induction program as well. And it’s, I feel like actually, Boots is a company where we’ve got a long history of people being colleagues in the organization and I think people have grown up with the scheme.

So even if we bring the employees in, there’s definitely those people there who understand the scheme can kind of bring people on that journey and make sure that customers know about it as well. It’s definitely one of the most important parts actually I think of the Loyalty program is making sure that the staff within the stores understand,

you know, a clearer on the benefits for the customer, but also use it themselves.


Yes, for sure. Brilliant. So, eh, so two extraordinary, I suppose, demonstrations of how loyalty should be done.

Definitely want to acknowledge all of that. And then to move on to the, the latest things that you’ve launched. So we’ve talked about, um, you know, as we said, there’s already that the points and that’s not going away. So that’s unbelievable. You’ve also launched a beauty club, which I’m really keen to hear about.

I think it’s called My Beauty so keen to hear about that proposition and also a price proposition. So I’d love you to talk us through both of those. Maybe if you don’t mind. And I suppose the thinking behind them.


Yeah. So, I mean, if I take my Beauty first, that’s, so My Beauty is an extension of our loyalty program. So as you thought about, we’ve got points that are the real core of the advantage card program, that’s why you sign up and you also get additional offers and benefits like that. But we also wanted to make sure that there was a content part to the program to. My Beauty was born out of the fact that there was a segment of customers, So gen X and boomers, uh, who felt like they were being understaffed by the beauty market, just didn’t feel represented, didn’t feel like they were getting the right advice, whether that was for their skincare or for their makeup. I’d say we set about creating a club that was content-driven. But aimed at that audience, I’m looking to help with performance of, you know, skincare performance of, uh, beauty, knowing what’s the best thing to buy for me right now in this stage, in my life with my skin.

And it sits alongside that skin. Another club that we’ve got called Boots X, which is, uh, always sort of slightly different, same premise. So looking to drive. Um, content and help people understand how to use makeup, but very much following trends. So what’s the latest thing. What’s the latest looks, um, probably aimed at more of a gen Z audience.

Um, but hopefully to everyone, you know, it’s not necessarily exclusive to that. Uh, and I think having those two programs is really interesting having them both side by side, actually. So as a consumer, you can decide, do I want to understand more about the best way to get the best out of my skin, the best part of my makeup routine, or am I just interested in fashion?

And I just want to have the latest looks and be on top of the latest trends. And I think that’s really nice to give people that choice based on the needs in beauty rather than it kind of being about, I don’t know, age or, um, you know, it’s not decided for you and for us, those two things are really important having those two communities. As I mentioned previously, the frequency of purchase at Boots is slightly lower for beauty retailers and a pharmacy retailers than it would be a supermarket. So content for us is important way to bring people back into the brands and continue that conversation that we have with them.

My beauty launched, I think it was. Six weeks ago now, and we’re up to a million members already. So It’s grown. Yeah. Very, very quickly. And I think it just shows that there is an appetite out there for this content. And I think it’s great that we can kind of fill that, fill that space in the market.


Totally, totally. Uh, congratulations, Hollie, a million members is unbelievable in six weeks.


It’s pretty exciting. Yeah. It’s great. 


Wow. Wow. And, and I think you’re absolutely right. I do think there is the appetite for the content with, I suppose, the caveat from a trusted source. So I think that’s where Boots is really, as you said earlier, Got the heart. It’s got a British heart. It is being on the high street for, for years and years. It’s absolutely everywhere. People love the brand. So for you guys to advise us on our skincare and stuff, it’s just a lovely insight. 


I think so. I think, I think content is going to be a big part of our future as well. I just think, um, we have, we have an app at the moment, which is delivering a great shopping experience to help you buy the products you need. But for us, that very much, I think, needs to change in the future to being much more of a content hub. Because as you say, Boots is such a trusted retail and I think, yeah, In beauty, but also in healthcare as well, there feels like there’s a huge gap in the market at the moment in supporting the NHS and making sure that people have got the right advice. And if they can’t kind of get to their GP, they should come able to talk to one of our pharmacists as well. So definitely in the future, I think content for us is a big pillar of loyalty, whether we do it through a club or whether we do it through our personalized app experience. So you will have your own version of Boots through the app.

And that’s the stuff that gets me really excited about the future. I think that’ll be really interesting. 


For sure. And very innovative as well, Hollie, um, there’s not many people come onto this show on how content as a pillar of loyalty. So definitely I can see the leading edge thinking and sometimes it is a case of, you know, test and learn I guess. Because you don’t know if a million people go to sign up or just going to say, oh no, I already have my, my sources, my Instagram or whatever, but, um, yeah, I’m sure you did lots of research. Did you, before you launched the My Beauty? 


We did. Yeah, we definitely took it into testing. Well, firstly, tested testing to understand the different segments in the market and what they needed and what they wanted.

And then when we went into kind of development of the club, we then did that with consumers as well, just to understand. Yeah. Does it fit your needs? Would you be interested? And then as you say, though, I think get to get something into market because it’s all very well asking someone if they would want something. And we all know a lot of people would probably say yes, but I think the proof’s in the pudding that you have to see, will people actually take it up and continue to engage with it over time. And it’s been a, it’s been a really good experience for us, I think not just for us as Boots, but also for our supplier partners.

Um, Yeah. And number seven is obviously a big part of Boots in is owned by Boots. And it’s one of the brands it’s a leading, um, part of the communications of My beauty, but also some of our other brands that we work with as well can also get involved. So it creates a really nice platform for, for us to speak to our customers, but also our suppliers as well.


Wonderful. I hadn’t thought about that part, but I can see absolutely the need. And I was going to ask you just to finish on the content piece, is, is driven by, I suppose, your own content as boots, creating maybe articles or videos. I’m not sure. What is it coming from boots or is there an element of, you know, members interacting with each other or not? What way is it actually working in practical terms?


It’s a really interesting question. It’s one of the things we’re thinking a lot about at the moment. So, right now it’s a combination of us developing the content and then also us working with influences to develop the content and bring that to consumers.

The next stage is very much about how do we get our consumers generating the content as much as possible, and also actually the role of our team members in stores. So we have a team members developing content and using that on social channels, but actually we would love to sort of harness the power of, you know, the thousands of people that we’ve got in our stores in the UK who are, you know, being customers day in and day out and are actually kind of the people that you would trust as well. Yeah. So we definitely want to try and harness that a bit more in the future, but it’s a really interesting question. Cause I think. You could, there’s a risk. I think that you can overinvest in developing your own content. And I think that’s kind of the point you were sort of touching on there is that there are so many sources out there and you just want to make sure that you’re delivering something that is unique, different fills a consumer need, and that they can’t get anywhere else.


Yeah, but, but also I think with my consumer hat on Hollie, what it does to me is it makes me feel that the brand actually does care in a way that is, is way beyond transactional or, you know, all of this kind of idea. To me, some brands don’t want to invest in content because they can’t, you know, see a lead generation or an immediate behavior change.

And, you know, and we can feel that again, as I suppose, fairly savvy consumers now, particularly as you have there in the UK, we know that people are doing certain things, sending us offers, for example, to, you know, to get us to buy stuff. And that’s totally fine. But I do think when there’s an investment in content, It feels much more like there’s a lot of integrity again, that the brand wants to support me and give me what I need rather than it always being about what am I going to buy from you.


Yeah. And I, I think the one that, one of the things that we’ve had to do to overcome that mindset, cause we were definitely in that transition as a business is moving from the way that we talk to consumers is around promotions and is around value. And as you say, getting them to make that shop as quickly as possible. I think the key thing for us has just been changing the key performance indicators that we look at. So, okay. It’s thinking about how often does someone open the app? How often does someone engage with some of the content that we send. That being a measure of success and understanding actually does that lead on to, uh, you know, a higher lifetime value of the consumer at the end of the day.

I think you need some of those proof points to help the business and make that transition as well. But it’s, it’s, it’s challenging. I would say it’s one of the, one of the most difficult parts I think of transforming a retail business from that week-by-week mindset into a longer term mindset. 


Yeah. Yeah. Wow. Okay. Well, lots to it to reflect on there, Hollie, and then talk us through the Price Advantage Proposition.


So Price Advantage, we trialed in-store last year and it was a really successful trial. And then we decided to launch it online and store in April this year. So it has been going for a couple of months. Um, and this week, actually, we just launched our first TV campaign as well. So we’re really kind of getting behind it, um, currently on, I think about 500 products across the store and looking to roll that out further across the year, whether that’s on more products or whether that’s on different prices, different types of promotions.

Um, and it’s definitely one when the one that when these propositions that’s just gone down really well with customers, customers absolutely love it. We are seeing, um, brilliant results of the back of it. So our sign-ups to the scheme have increased. We’ve seen downloads of our app increasing as well. Right. Um, most of what she is, it’s helping us to drive better profitability through our promotions as well. So, wow. Um, yeah, it’s been a real success and that’s one of the things we’re going to keep driving forward in the next couple of years.


And I didn’t do any of the math, so forgive me, Hollie, but I did see, I saw a TV campaign on your LinkedIn, so that was wonderful. Great, very exciting to have some TV support, but the discounts certainly look very generous. That would be absolutely. And that sounds intentional. Do you, do you have, I suppose, uh, you know, um, a level or a percentage that you’re aiming to give to advantage members, or is it literally product by product?


It is product by product. I would say there are essential lines where we’re probably giving. A smaller percentage, but a meaningful percentage. So on your things like shower, you know, um, hygiene care, all of those sorts of things. Um, but then we want to give people some excitement as well. So stunt deals on some of those big beauty brands, some fragrance, maybe even some electrical beauty, maybe in the future.


Ooh. Yes. Just try and drive a bit of interest and actually. I guess for us, it’s about giving customers a reason to come into Boots as well. So we want to give them a deal that they’re not gonna be able to get anywhere else. And actually, if we can do that through Price Advantage, then. I mean, that’s, that’s even better for us as a loyalty scheme owner.

That’s really important because as I’m sure lots of your guests, you come on here, we’ll say data is a huge part of why we have the loyalty program. So first making sure that people are swiping their cards when they come in, is it really, really important to us? So having promotions behind the card. Yeah. Helps us do that as well.


Oh, I got it. Okay. So, so a, a key KPI, it sounds like then is, you know, the price is, you know, the, the non-advantage price, swipe the cards, and I guess it drops straight down. So God people love that. Huh? 


It does, uh, yeah. And it’s, and I think that’s really good marketing tool actually, been able to do that on shelf.

So often you would try and like, um, acquire someone to unprogram, whether that’s doing that while they’re browsing online or walking through the front of the store at the check or at the checkout, but actually having something on the shelf edge that remind you about the loyalty program is, I think a big kind of game-changer for us in kinda getting us at the forefront of customer minds. It gives you a reason right there and then get your card out or sign up for a card. And it just creates, it creates a habit then as well, every time you’re shopping, you see, oh, okay. This price. I need to buy my cards. I noticed say hatefully, people feel like because you’re a member, you get an extra benefit as well. You know, as a part of ourl club, you know, if you want to be in the club, you get access to these great low prices. 


For sure. And I’m sure you can’t tell me, but I would love to know your swipe rates, huh?


I probably can’t tell you that.


I have to be nosy that’s I always wish I could, you know, sneak in behind the scenes and see all the KPIs up on the presentation board for the C-suite, but I’m totally understand that some things we can talk about to publicly but, yeah. Extraordinary. Just to see the growth and to understand that that’s exactly the behavior that you’re, I suppose, reporting internally to, to the C-suite.


Yeah, absolutely. It’s been a huge success. So definitely one that we’re going to continue to roll out over the next couple of years.


Wonderful. And the other big one, I know that you’re working on a lot, Holl,ie and I can’t believe you’re doing all of this in only 10 months so far, but, uh, you mentioned to me before we came on air that you’re changing, I suppose, the way you use the data.

So rather than the calendar type approach, moving much more personalized, which, you know, to me, is something, again, Boots, you know, at your scale is probably it’s, it’s quite a difficult thing to do, but I would love to understand what you’re aiming to do and where you are on that journey? 


Yeah, and it’s definitely a journey and we’re kind of in the middle of it at the moment.

So we invested actually in a new MarTech platform. Um, It actually beauty to that just before I joined. And so it’s been my job to help implement that and make sure that we are making the most of that system. But I think the technology part helps you process the data faster, and it helps you to get those consumer communications to consumers at the right time with the right message. But the most important part is the data. So we obviously have a wealth of data, not just from the shopping, um, from customer shopping, but also from them browsing online, interacting with our app. And even in the future, we will hopefully have access to some of the healthcare data with our customers permissions as well.

And so the challenge that we’ve got as a business is, as you say, we are a very big business. It’s quite diverse as well. So we have, um, almost three different pillars of business. So we’ve got a health business, a beauty business, and almost like a general merchandise business, people will come to us for Christmas gifts and other stuff. Pharmacy, Opticians. Yeah, So many exactly. Yeah. And so what that means is we have lots of different things that we want to talk to customers about. Yeah. And so at the moment we are set up in a way, which means that we will often talk to customers about what we want to talk about. It should be much more the other way around. It should be. What does this customer need right now? And, the, what you referenced at the start, there is moving from an approach where we have these communications laid out in a calendar across the year, just because that’s always just been an easy and efficient way to do it because we’ve not had the technology in order to do that for us, you need to sort of plan it out.

But now that we do have that, we can flip that and say, well, actually this consumer. For retinol, for example, the retinol cream. Um, and actually, I don’t know if anyone knows retinol, but it sometimes has slightly adverse effects in your skin, but that’s completely normal. Yeah. So actually us being a kind of thoughtful retailer, what we should be doing is saying a week after that consumers bought that product, letting them know, okay, don’t worry, these are sorts of side effects you should expect in two weeks time, these are the differences your skin’s starts to see. And then actually then follow up in two weeks time and tell them, okay, how are you getting on if you’re having any trouble come and see one of our advisors in-store and then further down the road, perhaps sorts that about. Okay. Well, if you enjoyed using that retinol cream, how about trying the night cream? The day cream, the eye cream. Yeah. It’s about trying to work how. What’s that key piece of data that someone has given us, tell them about what they either want to buy next, or perhaps the journey they might have fallen into given that they’ve just bought something. And then our job is to then create. Uh, a customer engagement program, I guess, around that say what are the different types of communications that we will set up in order to nurture them through to a purchase or just help them experience that product in a slightly better way? and  I guess the other challenge is, It’s easy sometimes I think to think about it, in an email form, cause it’s quite linear. Um, but I think that the additional complexity that we are now adding in is how do we do that multichannel. So whether that’s communicating to you when you’re on the website in a certain way, or through the app or using push notifications, but orchestrating all those different touch points, um, so that it feels like we’re talking to you in the moments where that communication is relevant. It’s right. Um, but it’s a challenge and there’s a lot to do. We’re very much on that journey. I’m not going to say we’re kind of finished on it, but what I would like us to get to the position is we, we have almost 80% of our communications are triggered by a piece of data, rather than at the moment.

I would say it’s almost the flip, which are, you know, 80% of our communications are triggered by a calendar, or someone deciding it’s time to send something to someone.


Yeah. Yeah. By the business. Exactly. Planning out something that they can manage. Wow, 




Yes. Um, yeah, no, I was reflecting, as you were saying that Hollie, you know, so many of us talk about omnichannel and so many of us talk about personalization, but it’s rare that you get them in the same conversation In that, that’s, you know, all being executed across all of your channels across your 15 million members. And yet with that degree of data-led personalization, that’s absolutely extraordinary. 


Yeah. And I think it’s, it’s part of our, you know, part of our plan, as I mentioned earlier is also to bring the app into this a bit more, So we kind of, less trying to push our communications to consumers, but more can we bring them the reasons to come to us as much as possible, and then personalize that experience when they get there. That’s the other sort of, I think key part of it. So it’s doing it Omnichannel, but it’s also changing that relationship so it becomes less 


Love it, love it. And just as an aside, I saw again on your LinkedIn, you have about 35 in your team is that all it need to make all of this magic happen. Yeah?


We do. Yeah. And we also have a partnership with, uh, The Farms, one of the WPP agencies as well. So they’re very much part of our wider team too, And they help develop some of our communications. So make sure I give them a shout-out as though. 


Wonderful. Wonderful. Yes. You got to have those partners for sure. Wonderful.


So listen to me, eh, coming up next, I suppose, while can we expect to see Hollie coming up in the next, I suppose, months and years ahead?


So, uh, as I said about the app being a real central part of our plan, we are looking at how we can game-ify that app experience a bit more as well, whether that’s looking at how we gamify our offers at the moment you can get offers through the Boots app, but how do we make that a bit more interesting. So every time you shop, perhaps as a game that you engage with, and then perhaps you get something different off the back of it. Okay. Or actually, how do we change some of our. Um, download incentives. So we have a 200 points if you download the app at the moment, and we’ve just currently been trying competitions, there’s a different method of incentivizing people and we’re seeing incredible results in that.


And what’s really interesting is actually as a whole, our consumers are kind of getting almost actually less because we were willing to give away 200 points to everyone. But I think almost sometimes the excitement or the option of getting something bigger from a consumer’s point of view makes it more interesting to try and she go in for it or, you know, download the app at the end of the day.

So yeah, I’d really like to try and play around with that as much as possible, you know, how do we use, um, competition or, you know, the possibility of accessing something even bigger, but only with a chance and with sort of less certainty. So doing more of that, I think could be interesting. Yeah. Um, and then I also think that we are gonna continue to relocate, uh, subscriptions. So we trialed a plus a plus at advantage card plus program in the UK, which was a free delivery. And it was also 10% off, um, of everything. And it was four 20 pounds a month. And we trialed that back just when I joined. So it was in sort of September and it was, it was an interesting trial. I think we sort of learned, we learned a few things from it.

So consumers could only sign up in-store. Okay, and sign up online. So I think that was definitely a key learning is if we need anything with his delivery proposition, it definitely needs an online sign-up journey. Sure. Makes sense. Right. If you’re going to be ordering online, you want to go to sign up online. Yeah, exactly.

And I think the other thing is just relooking at all of our giveaway and all of our, you know, what do we give customers in terms of value and where would a subscription sensibly sit in the architecture? So if you’ve got your, at the moment, we’ve got our four points per pound, which probably sits at the bottom of that pyramid.

We’ve then got price advantage, which means when you come in, you get an extra discount, we then have our digital offers in the app. Yeah. And I think sometimes. They can always be too much. You’re trying to give away to consumers, whether that’s through an additional subscription, you know, who would that really be for?

So I think the concept of a subscription is interesting. I’m not sure we got it quite right with, you know, 10% off everything. Um, when you pay 20 pounds a year, I think there might be something else that we can do there. And perhaps even looking at other content methods as well, not just, um, you know, articles, but things like fertility trackers,I think that’s a really interesting area. How can we help people with managing their health? Um, and are there subscription services that we can develop around that as well? So lots of interesting kind of avenues to explore for us, uh, in the next year or so.


Wow, my goodness, Hollie. Yeah, no, it’s super exciting.

Um, you know, as we said, like the, the data-led approach is, is obviously working for you and the fact that you have, I suppose, such freedom to try all of these things, whether it is subscription or gamification, I mean, I’m a little bit envious of you in your role if I’m, if I’m honest. And so the only other piece I wanted to briefly touch on before we finish up was actually just back to your previous role in Dunnhumby. Um, and we’ve already talked a little bit about, you know, how the Boots staff are, you know, inspired actually, it seems by the advantage program recommending it to people. But I did see something lovely on your profile as well, back to the very start of your career.


About doing some work for a global employee innovation day, her about 2000 people. So I just wanted to get a sense of, you know, driving employee engagement with that kind of experience behind you. If you wouldn’t mind, just telling me a bit about what you did there.


Of course. Yeah, I guess you just take me back trying to remember, but, um, the, the point of that was, as you say, sort of twofold, so it was to engage the organization. So getting the business behind it, but then also to develop ideas. So it was a sort of cross between a hackathon. So we took 24 hours. To give everyone in the organization, time to come up with an idea and then submit it to a, a board, an online board, and then people could put themselves forward to join that team and become part of your hackathon team.

And we had combinations of people in Dunnhumby who would be the data engineers, data science, um, client services team members, um, you know, working within customer strategy as well. And I think that bringing together that mix of people who’ve got all of those different skill sets was really interesting and developed some brilliant ideas of the back of it.


So we, we had the teams working. I think for 24 hours, um, working on those different ideas. And then at the end of that 24 hours, we would have everyone come in and pitch and the, you would come in and pitch your idea to the rest of the organization. And then our executive team then went away and had a look at the different ideas and decided which ones they wanted to take forward. And those ideas that were taken forward for given funding and an opportunity to grow and also launch with them market as well. Wow. And it was nothing else. It was just a lot of fun. Everyone really enjoyed it. And I think people enjoy having the space to be a bit creative, enjoy kind of meeting different colleagues, working with different people and just sort of stepping out of the day to day and having a bit of a broader perspective on some of the challenges that at the time a partner was Tesco.

Um, but also some of our supplier partners there, which would have been Procter and Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo. Um, and it was just a really great. I get a great experience and great for me to run it as well. Gosh, it taught me a lot about project management, trying to do that in, it was in the UK, but it was also multi-market as well.

So trying to coordinate all those different markets, did you listen to the same 24 hour period was time, but Dunnhumby is a brilliant organization. I’ve only got brilliant things to say about it. So it has a certain type of person works at Dunnhumby and they’re all very good and very smart. I can imagine, very interesting people.


So, yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you for talking me through that, Hollie. I was just reflecting recently on, I suppose, a couple of things, the whole thing about the great resignation. I think we’re all being impacted in terms of finding good people and keeping them. But also I’m always just passionate about innovation, you know, uh, you know, it’s something, I think we all kind of crave is to find the next big thing to have the light bulb moment. So I saw it on your profile. I thought, Ooh, that sounds like an interesting project. So super exciting.


Yeah. It’s one of the things that I crave as well. I think innovation in a row is just so important and I think everyone can have creativity and innovation in their role.

Yes. I think sometimes. In this new hybrid working, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s, it’s harder to do that actually, because you’ve got less of that experience of being around people, bouncing off ideas, and it’s much more of a transactional experience working virtually, but I hope we can make sure that we bring a bit more of that back over the next couple of years.


I’m sure. We will. Hollie. So listen, that’s all the questions I have from my side. And any other points that you wanted to touch on before we wrap?


Nothing else to me, but I’ve loved our chat. It’s a really good talk on tuesday. 


Oh, likewise. Hollie. I’m just such a fan of what you guys are doing. So want to say a huge, thank you. And congratulations for all that you’ve achieved so far. Hollie McLellan, head of customer marketing and loyalty at Boots, UK. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty.


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