At a time when household budgets are being stretched more than ever, shoppers are increasingly voting with their purses and wallets and shunning brand loyalty in favour of trying out new stores that promise to shave pounds off their grocery bill.
As a result supermarkets have had to up their game in a bid to entice consumers through the front door to do their weekly shop and are utilising a wide range of marketing ploys to prevent people from defecting to rival competitors.
Of course, the technique most commonly associated with supermarkets is giving customers ‘something for nothing’ in the form of buy-one-get-one-free, three-for-two and, in some cases, buy one-get-two-free deals.
These, accompanied with a print, television or internet marketing campaign, are a great way of drawing customers into shops, and although these deals are frequently loss-leaders for companies, their costs are generally more than recouped by customers purchasing other full-price items while they are in the store.
Looking at things from a slightly different angle, another option for supermarkets is to provide a solution to one of the biggest bugbears for many shoppers – having £1 to hand in order to use a trolley. Many supermarkets have introduced the system in a bid to cut down on the number of trolleys that are taken off the premises and never returned, but as a result have risked annoying shoppers who have to hunt around in their purse or wallet to find a £1 coin.
One solution is to hand out trolley coin keychains branded with the supermarket’s name that shoppers can use every time they want access to a trolley. These can be attached to keyrings – something the average person will look at several times a day – ensuring the retailer’s brand name is always within eyeshot.
Retailers can also use the environment as a way of boosting brand awareness and encouraging loyalty among customers. As more and more people become aware of the negative impact persistent use of plastic bags has on the environment, adoption of reusable bags is on the rise.
These are often stronger than the bags handed out at the till and are larger, too, meaning they can be used to carry heavy goods such as tins or bottles from the shop to the car without the risk of the bag breaking. Many supermarkets offer these for sale at the checkout – or sometimes give them away for free – and emblazon them with their company logo and slogan, raising awareness and encouraging shoppers to make a return trip to the same store.
All of these solutions rely on consumers actually visiting a store, but there are ways of maintaining brand loyalty among shoppers who rarely set foot inside a store. It is possible to purchase almost everything on the internet and groceries are no exception, so the market for having shopping delivered to the home is just as competitive as that for traditional bricks-and-mortar stores.
Most major supermarkets offer some form of delivery service and customer retention here can be very easy – providing the deliveries are accurate and take place on time. A shopper who receives exactly what they want, when they want every time they place an order over the web is likely to stick with that company for a long time, but at the same time, if their weekly shop does not arrive on schedule or is full of the wrong products, chances are they will lose patience and try out a competitor’s service.