Friday, 18 June 2010

Why we all need a Hero (Device)

As you know, at we targeted iPhone first. Yet if I was to draw a Venn diagram containing two circles - one representing the population of Tesco online shoppers and the other the population of people with iPhones - you would see that the overlap between the two circles is only very small. However, if we created a third circle representing a phone that has a large overlap, we would find that it would be largely incapable of running anything.

Our core online grocery shoppers are busy Mums with a hectic lifestyle thanks to their kids, and they tend to have mid-range handsets. Their phones are cheap or free and are used to make phone calls or send text messages. We can’t reach them with a decent internet web service or app until they enter the upgrade curve naturally to a smart phone over the next 18 to 24 months. They feel no hurry: very few of our busy Mums are frustrated this morning because they can’t pre-order an iPhone 4 now Apple’s order books are full.

So why did we continue to target iPhone with our apps when our own data shows that the majority of customers are not using them? To answer this question, let me come at it from a moment of recent experience:

Early yesterday evening I sat in the corner of The Only Running Footman, an olde London pub in Mayfair. I was there to kill an hour between the end of a conference in nearby Piccadilly and before a business dinner engagement, and I thought I would use the time to catch up on email and news.

So I whipped out the iPad, asked a member of staff for the wifi password and got started.

I soon noticed admiring glances (and not at me!) - within 15 minutes no less than five people had come over and asked if they could have a look at it.

The good news for me was that the Footman is the sort of place that attracts clientele who would want their own iPad rather than want mine, so I was happy enough to show them. All five admirers were wowed by the iPad and told me they now plan to buy one.

The iPad is, therefore, an example of a what I call a “Hero” device. It attracts a crowd, it is considered ‘best of breed’, and (importantly) the journalists who might discover and write about your app have one.

I first mentioned the concept of “Hero” devices at MobileMonday this week, and I note that several attendees to that session have quoted me talking about the benefits of targeting these devices first, and admitted to poor uptake when they targetted the actual phones used by the main demographic of their customer base.

So back to our first app being made for the iPhone. As I have said in a previous post, we chose it because I have an iPhone and so it was a good starting point. Talk about the right choice: even when I blogged that our first app was rejected by Apple, that made headline news. When we finally managed to get Tesco Finder into the App Store, again a round of journalistic column inches resulted. In addition, the whole company has felt good about having a presence in Apple’s App Store; it has given Tesco a sense of being innovative and forward thinking.

If I had targetted a non-hero phone first and blogged about our app in that phone-maker's app store then I dearsay journalists would have yawned and a few of you would have removed me from your blog reader having been instantly bored.

“Hero” devices enjoy more kudos, craving, and column inches than any other device. This gives you access to a halo effect of marketing and general brand feel-good that you just don’t get when you target any other device.

You may find that your core customer base doesn’t have a “Hero” device. Don’t let that stop you having a presence on it.


  1. I thought this was going to be about the HTC Hero and how you'd finally got around to supporting Android....

    but no :(

  2. Hey Nick, we believe the same about moms and iphones. Thats why we developed a affordable fourth screen device with barcode scanner. We posted a Video on your techfortesco forum.
    Daniel, Jatuso

  3. Hi Mally - I believe that a Tesco grocery app *is* now in the Android Marketplace written by a 3rd party developer and using our Tesco API. Take a look and let me know if you spot it.

  4. Really enjoyed the presentation at MoMo. I agree that it's useful to choose a hero / best-of-breed device to start with. It also lets you see which bits of the app are particularly well used.

    The important thing is not to lose focus on other devices. Whichever Hero you pick, there needs to be a path down to "mass market" (or close to it). Otherwise you run the risk of a nice audience which is hard to monetise.


  5. I have just had a look at the 3rd party Tesco app for Android. I'm afraid it doesn't even begin to compare with the Ocado app.

    It's interesting how my and a number of my friends' shopping habits have been affected by what options are available to us. We, as a family, do most of our food shopping online from Tesco with the occasional store visit to Waitrose (or Tesco). We didn't used to see any advantage in using Waitrose over Tesco when shopping online but we did prefer the Waitrose in-store experience. However, now that I have the Ocado app on my Android phone I do most of my online shopping from my phone as it is more convenient than using the lappy and I notice that Ocado have a Tesco price-match on many of their products.

    However much you may enthuse about these "premium" devices, the sooner Tesco have a presence on the equally useful, more affordable, and increasingly popular alternatives the better for everyone.

  6. And just to bang on a bit more!

    You say that "very few of our busy Mums are frustrated this morning because they can’t pre-order an iPhone 4 now Apple’s order books are full". Very true. For many people, spending sensibly doesn't involve buying a brand new iPhone or an iPad! However, I can assure you that I know a good few busy Mums who actually would be frustrated that they can't shop at Tesco from the convenience of their (more sensibly purchased) Android devices if it wasn't for the Ocado app (my wife, for example, has an HTC Desire on a £10/month contract with 3GB of data/month - a very powerful phone for a fraction of the cost of an iPhone on which the Ocado app runs like lightning).

    Sorry to keep mentioning the "O" word but I do think they have stolen a march here.

    OK, I'm done! Still a big Tesco fan BTW. Just hurry up with that Android app already!

  7. I'm a 66 year old grannie & I've just bought a Tesco iPhone. Will I be able to use it when I do my Tesco shop?

  8. I shop at tesco and have an iPhone. I have the store locator app and whilst a great concept I can't actully use it when I need it. Every tesco store I have been in I don't get a mobile signal so I can't use the app instore to find a product! I live in a large town and have 2 large stores within 10 Min drive and both the same!

  9. I agree, the Ocado app is fab fab fab.

    The Tesco Basket thing is terrible, I'd block their access from the API....

    The Tesco Finder from Ovalcode is useful, but limited :)

    come on tech for tesco......

  10. Hi Liz

    Yes the grocery iPhone app is on it's way. We're doing lots of user-acceptance testing so that you have a great experience when it launches.


  11. You come across looking like a cult of Apple fanboy here Nick! (granted, you do fit the demographic pretty well)

    Tesco should be looking to provide new services to all their customers - not just the 'Hero' niche. The very notion of a Hero device is personal anyway - I have a Google Nexus One and there's no better phone in my opinion.

    Android is currently running at 160000 new phone activations PER DAY globally and will be the most popular smartphone platform within the next 6-9 months. Tesco should be taking it seriously and giving some love to other mobile OSes (Android at least, probably Win Phone 7 too).

    You would get so much more respect for that!

    p.s. I was thinking about developing a shopping App myself but I feel (and I'm sure others do too) that Tesco will just release an official app anyway at some point...killing the investment.


As this blog grows in readership - and because it carries the Tesco brand - I have had to become more careful about the sort of comments that are acceptable. The good news is that I'm a champion of free speech so please be as praising or as critical as you wish! The only comments I DON'T allow through are:

1. Comments which criticise an individual other than myself, or are critical of an organisation other than Tesco. This is simply because they cannot defend themselves so is unfair and possibly libellous. Comments about some aspect of Tesco being better/worse than another equivalent organisation are allowed as long as you start by saying "in my personal opinion.." or "I think that...". ... followed by a "...because.." and some reasoned argument.

2. Comments which are totally unrelated to the context of the original article. If I have written about a mobile app and you start complaining about the price of potatoes then your comment isn't going stay for long!

3. Advertising / web links / spam.

4. Insulting / obscene messages.

Ok, rules done - now it's your go: