Skip to main content

Vistar Canada managing director talks holiday marketing

Scott Mitchell discusses place-based marketing for grocers
Scott Mitchell
Scott Mitchell. Photography courtesy Vistar Canada

Holiday entertaining can get pricey. Canadians know this all too well. 

This season, consumers still plan to spread some Yuletide joy. But as many families struggle to keep pace with the high cost of living, retailers will have to cater to a more budget-conscious consumer. 

So, how can Canadians put an affordable spread on the table? Scott Mitchell, managing director of Vistar Canada, says the practice of place-based marketing can help shoppers maximize value for the holidays.

We had the opportunity to speak with Mitchell recently about this marketing strategy, and how retailers can take advantage. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Can you give us an overview of what place-based marketing is? What are the principles and practices that define this marketing strategy?

Place-based marketing is about reaching consumers on their journey. It’s everywhere. A consumer makes key decisions on their way from the grocery store to the mall, to home. With place-based marketing, we can reach audiences as they’re making that journey. It’s the advertising you see on billboards, in transit shelters, in restaurants, etc.

It’s about out of home advertising. Think about it: I’m on my way home from work. I’m on a busy streetcar on King Street, and then I’m on a crowded street navigating a sea of bodies. I’m not looking at my phone. With placed-based marketing, we can reach consumers in their environment.

READ: Why grocers need to get creative with their rewards programs

In this economy, Canadians are broadly concerned with rising grocery prices. How can grocers use this marketing strategy to reach bargain-hunting Canadian consumers?

It allows grocers to maintain flexibility. They can change the message in a manner of minutes based on the demographics in their specific location. If broccoli is on sale, they can change the message to reflect that sale at any moment. That’s one of the key elements of place-based marketing. It’s creative and dynamic. That allows grocers to cater to the needs of their consumers in a moment’s notice.

How can grocers use placed-based marketing to repair trust with Canadian consumers this holiday?

Transparency is key. We’re not just trying to ensure that grocers have the flexibility to provide the most relevant messaging possible. We’re trying to ensure that they can do so in a way that keeps consumers up to date in an honest way that benefits them.

The idea is to extend that trust outwards. Place-based marketing can help grocers show that they know their audience. It can also help brands provide consumers with the products that they want and need in the most affordable way possible. 

READ: Canadians plan to cut back on holiday spending, shop around for deals 

What advertising channels are most effective for grocers?

That’s specific to the grocer. Different grocers will benefit more by utilizing different channels depending on the demographics in their area.

One thing that we do know for sure is that data-driven approaches provide the most efficient way to reach any audience. No matter which channel they’re using, grocers should lead with the data. Tell the right story: you’re going to be successful by working with mediums that allow you to tell the right story in the right way in the right market.  

A grocery store’s situation doesn’t change very much. They stay in the same location and the demographic trends around them change slowly. With place-based marketing, they can use proximity targeting to help provide a local message.

Advertisement - article continues below
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds