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Waitrose, purveyors of lovely snacks and occasional treats for the Stonecoast office, have announced a scheme where shoppers can choose their own discounts. Gone are the days of going into a supermarket to buy salad and coming out with a 75% discounted sack of Pedigree Chum (and we don’t even have a dog!)

Waitrose argues that traditional discounting encourages disloyalty and not the sought loyalty. Big discounts, seemingly applied in a random fashion encourages us to switch brands rather than stick with them. ‘Persil is 50% off this week? See you in a month Ariel, I’ll be back when you’re back on special’

It’s a bold and confident move to empower shoppers to set their own agenda and pick there goods that they want to be discounted. This move certainly supports the Waitress brand which is all about looking after their customers.

The big supermarkets have long talked about using their vast pool of data to be more targeted in the offers they send to us, but it’s not really happened. The jump to letting us chose our own offers is simple but hugely powerful.

It shows a company that isn’t afraid to take risks to reward loyalty and increase market share. That free coffee and paper you pick up, They hooked you in with a free coffee and paper and will now let you dictate the terms on which you shop!

What’s the lesson here? I think it’s about having proper, grown up engagement between a company and its customers. Waitrose is clearly taking the relationship seriously and genuinely trying to develop a kind of shopping partnership where loyalty is rewarded with offers that we want. It’s aiming to develop trust by giving power to its customers. That’s a scary thought!