I like to ask people, “Which retailer is the most promotional in Europe?” The answers that come back are normally, Carrefour: “They take all my money”, or Amazon: “They advertise every category”.
I then ask, “Which channel runs three promotions per week, dedicates between 15-25% of floor space to weekly rotational items, and has more than 50% of shoppers reading their flyers religiously?”
The response is usually, “I don’t know.” But the answer is obvious: Hard Discounters.
In 2003, I had the pleasure of sharing a dinner table at a conference with Michael Francis, then Chief Marketing Officer of Target, the American mass merchant. Target had been on a fantastic run of success and many experts pointed to Francis and his marketing army as the source of that success. When there was a break in the conversation, I seized the moment and asked Michael, “What makes your approach to marketing different?” His answer was, to paraphrase, “We make it fun for everyone.”
Since then I’ve been watching retailers for signs of “everyone having fun in marketing.” You would think that with today’s arsenal of marketing vehicles – social media, streaming video, guerilla marketing, TV, Radio, print, loyalty cards – that retailers would be having fun and getting their entire staff in on the action. Sadly, that is not the case. Many retailers stick to the basics: coupons, BOGOs, and limited supply gimmickry. This happens despite the development of a new “Path to Purchase” (see figure 1).
Figure 1. Modern Marketing and the Path to Purchase Fish
A Retailer that Stands Out
Lidl is different. As mentioned above, they run three weekly promotions: Monday, Thursday, and “Super” Saturday. That is approximately 150 promotions per year. They dedicate approximately 20% of floor space to rotational items. The number of shoppers that read the flyers is upwards of 52% according to Incoma/GfK in the Czech Republic. This compares to 28% at hypermarkets. Oh, and they have fun.
An example of how they have fun can be seen in this week’s promotion in Croatia, with the “Retro” theme. In order to pull this off, Lidl had to work with regional confectionary manufacturer, Swiss Lion-Takovo, and others. Swiss Lion-Takovo acquired many of the legacy brands made in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia era. Lidl was able to get them to agree to provide ‘retro’ packaging for this limited supply promotion (Figure 2). They also got them to agree to have some fun.
Figure 2 Lidl Croatia's "Retro Week" Promotion
Another example is Lidl Romania’s marketing campaign for the Spanish week (2 weeks). The retailer enticed shoppers to discover Iberian recipes by means of short clips similar to soap-opera scenes. The clips were grouped under a series called “Amar y Comer” (Passion and Drama) on the dedicated website www.pasiunesidrama.ro where shoppers can also see Lidl’s products (Figure 3).
Figure 3 Lidl Romania's Iberian Promotion
Supplier Lessons in the Age of ‘Fun’ Marketing
While the executive boards at our companies are discussing the new geo-politics of Europe - Trade sanctions between Europe and Russia, inflation/deflation, and other serious matters – the rest of us can be having a bit of fun.
There are two ways to have fun:
- Work with retailers that are having fun.
- Convince your retailers to have more fun with all of their different engagements.
Both of these present their own challenges but the “Retro@LidlCroatia” is just one example of a retailer that is clearly having some fun. Suppliers can and should do more to drive marketing leadership through retailers. The executive team will be focused on how to avoid deflation but the key account teams can be focused on having fun @digitalretail.
Please have a look at some of the exciting work we published last week (links below). I highly recommend Bryan Roberts’ “Store of the Week: Tesco Metro” which has already received 24 re-tweets from Tesco alone.
Good luck in the week ahead,
Ray Gaul firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @raygaul
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