Consumer and marketing insights shared at GSW

Photo credits: www.jonbenjamin.ca
4/23/2012

On the final day of Grocery Showcase West organized by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, many insights from retailers best practices to consumer insights were shared.

The conference started off with Kraft's vice-president of consumer insight and strategy, Janine Keogh, who said great marketing is built from solid insights on consumers and putting the consumer first. This, she said will result in them becoming your brand's advocates.

A prime example is Kraft's Hockeyville program that touches consumers' love of hockey. "We became the facilitator, not the main event," said Keough. The retailer, customer, business partners are all engaged and feel they've received a gift–it's about emotional engagement, she added.

Keough said that gathering insight on consumers is a strategic imperative. She then shared some of cool technologies being used to gain insight.

For example, the Shop Kick app rewards people for going into the store, so with each "kick buck" given, consumers can accumulate them to spend at any given partners. She also said independents are able to do things quicker than chains and pointed to Canadian Grocer's March cover story on Quality Foods and that retailer's use of technology such as mobile apps as proof.

There's also the Scanit Mobile app that is being used in the Stop and Shop in Massachusetts that enables curbside pickups as well as the Jatuso terminals that are being used in homes that will keep track of low stock items in your shelves to arrange for home delivery service.

Consumers want to be involved, and Keough pointed to Terra Chips' recent campaign that invited consumers to vote for the new flavour; the winning customer whose flavour was chosen would in turn receive one per cent of the sales of the new product.

"There are so many ways to get insight both insight and outside the store," said Keough.

She left the attendees with these points: put consumers first; find insights close to home; test and prove opportunities with manufacturers; build brands; partner and share; make the investment in analytics; integrate all data; know where to market; avoid myths, they're not insights; and know your spouse, because the next gift is only as good as the last one given.

Next to share shopper marketing expertise was the HunterStraker agency team of James Fraser and Matthew Diamond.

Diamond shared some of the best programs he's come across in stores such as the Campbell's soup displays that force consumers to look at soup as well as ConAgra in the U.S. that managed to create a new section in grocery with its "mealtime made simple" value solutions.

With Target coming to Canada, Diamond said that look to see more comarketing in the media. For example, in the U.S. Target private label brands are partnered with manufacturers in ads.

As for the increase in mobile technologies like QR codes, he doesn't know if it will work in grocery, where moms are time pressed to compare prices and offers.

Next, Fraser talked about how independent grocers are able to do so many things better than mass retailers.

He talked about his rule of 3, 4, 5: you must be able to understand a display in three seconds, see the message in four paces; and understand it in five words. "Fast food does it right," said Fraser pointing to KFC's Toonie Tuesdays as a great example of clear messaging.

He believes in trial before the aisle, "you must have a display strategy," he said. "You must know your audience," he added, pointing to the difference in wording of the same ads in the U.S. compared to Canada. "Every region has its own tone."

Another key to success is inspiring buyer desire. "by making displays more impactful and increasing the number of views, sales will increase soem 50 percent," said Fraser.

To be successful, retailers must get out to see how others do their business, urged Fraser. "Steal ideas."

The theme of stealing best practices continued with the CFIG retail panel discussion.

Chris Szeszorak of Harold's Family Foods in Prince Albert, Sask., said it's crucial to surround yourself with people who know more than you do to challenge yourself.

His store has managed to compete with big box stores by catering to its clients with unique personalized offers. For example, it has a large South African consumer base that loves the three types of in-house made sausages it creates.

Next, Doug Lovsin of Alberta's Freson Bros. chain talked about how it grew to be a 15-store chain today.

The store rebranded itself some eight years ago, and today 10 of its stores are opened 24 hours. One key aspect to its success is that 10 store managers have equity in the company, and have come up through the fresh department.

But Lovsin admitted that the labour market is very challenging in Alberta at the moment, with the biggest challenge being keeping staff. It offers a meat training program as well it's partnered with the University of Alberta's school of retailing to offer summer internships.

What's the secret to their success? "It's about exaggerating what we do well," said Lovsin. This means continuing to cut all of its meat, and pushing Alberta pork and next fall, Alberta beef. We're planning to come up with our own beef program, said Lovsin.

Freson Bros. will open its newest store in November, that will be its first foray into an urban market that will focus on the fresh departments.

Next Darryl Hein of The Market on Millstream and The Market on Yates in Victoria offered up his tips. His father-in-law, Ernie Skinner, who built the business, and will be designated a CFIG life member at the Grocery Innovations Show this fall, always believed in treating people well–customers and staff–to get their loyalty.

As a result, Hein said their staff turnover is very low.

Once again, Hein's business focuses on the fresh department and offering variety to customers.

We will try anything and keep an open mind, said Hein. "I encourage you to go see other stores, and copy their (best) ideas."

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