Some retailers provide excellent offers and promotions to help their customers make the best buying decisions. Others don’t. What can they do to improve? What are the worst promotions in supermarkets? A GMI survey in The Grocer identified that only a third of shoppers could identify the best value for money on four different bacon promotions. Even on a simple offer for milk, 42% of people could not identify the best deal. Which? Research states that nearly three quarters of shoppers feel that supermarkets are trying to mislead them.
Driving shoppers away?
The big question is just how upset do shoppers have to get before they decide to shop at a different store? Could that be one of the reasons why Aldi and other value retailers are growing so fast? They offer less pack options for any given product, and therefore any price or promotion is easier to understand. Personally, I think it could be part of the reason why shoppers choose value retailers. Shoppers do not want to be misled or look like an idiot by promotions in supermarkets, and that’s more important to them than a lower price, which they might not trust anyway.
How supermarkets can respond?
Of course, other supermarkets don’t need to go as far as value retailers in reducing the number of package options because different customers have different needs. However, to make things clearer to shoppers, they do need to ensure that their pricing and offers can be clearly understood by the average 10-year-old. Price per unit wherever possible is also important, as is a better managed use of terms such as special offers and great value. Less deals but with a clear cost per unit or other methods of comparing similar products is the way forward. One retailer that I discussed this with had the initial reaction that so many shoppers would go for the cheapest cost per unit that the strategy would lose money. Then he remembered that his store had a cost per unit on water, where the highest unit price was 10 times more than the lowest. The bottom line is that it’s about understanding and meeting customer needs for different pack sizes, product features and promotions which are more important than just lowest unit price.
As Judith McKenna, from Walmart, said last year the new marketing challenge is about communicating with the shopper at the fixture – what Asda terms the ‘actual moment of purchase’; and those who provided a positive disruption of the shopping experience at that juncture will be the winners. To me the keywords are “positive disruption” and that’s what all of us Marketing people need to strive for. Customers love supermarket promotions, but they must be clear, simple to understand and never misleading, or we risk driving shoppers away. The objective is to communicate at the shelf edge with tickets that sell.
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