Largest Finnish retailer to reveal shopping habits to customers

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish shoppers are about to find out what they spend their money on at the supermarket after S Group, the country’s largest retailer, gave customers access to their shopping history.

S Group has been collecting detailed shopping data for years through its popular loyalty bonus card, which is held by 3.7 million consumers in Finland, whose population is 5.5 million.

“Especially for our younger customers the opportunity to track their own consumption can be a crucially important reason to use our green (bonus) card, even more important than the bonus itself,” spokesman Veli-Pekka Aari said on Tuesday.

While S Group’s competitors are also eyeing opportunities to collect and use data on people’s shopping habits to personalise their advertisement efforts, Aari said the idea of giving out it to customers was the group’s own.

“We may well be the first in the world to give customers access to data on their consumption with this precision.”

S Group, a co-operative owned by its customers, had a 45.9 percent share of the Finnish retail market in 2017, while it also runs Finland’s largest petrol station chain, department stores, hotels and restaurants.

While customers are able to look up what they have spent over the last 12 months on product groups such as beef, yogurt or beer, together with their shopping locations and usual shopping hours, the information could become more detailed.

“A consumer could check how much, say sugar, the purchased products have contained altogether, and then if they want, compare their own sugar consumption with that of other households of the same size,” Aari said.

Some consumers have been concerned by a lack of privacy within the bonus system, although S Group said it was giving customers not only access to their shopping data but also increased control over its use.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen, editing by Gwladys Fouche and Alexander Smith