Peo­ple power Shop­pers get fickle,

Rachel Clay­ton re­ports on one re­tailer’s re­sponse to fast-chang­ing cus­tomer de­mands.

Sunday Star-Times - - BUSINESS -

There is lit­tle to no su­per­mar­ket loy­alty in the New Zealand shop­per’s psy­che, and stores have to com­pete on more than price, ac­cord­ing to one of the ma­jor su­per­mar­ket chains.

Count­down’s mar­ket­ing man­ager

Brid­get La­mont said New Zealand had one of the high­est rates of cross shop­ping in the world.

‘‘Over 80 per cent of peo­ple would say they’ve shopped at more than one su­per­mar­ket over the course of a week,’’ La­mont said.

In a bid to cre­ate a new story for its brand, Count­down has hired Y&R NZ as its cre­ative strate­gist.

Ten to 15 years ago, the cus­tomer had abun­dant at­ten­tion and su­per­mar­kets eas­ily pushed their brand on peo­ple through lim­ited chan­nels, La­mont said. But so­cial me­dia had given the cus­tomer power.

‘‘To­day, it’s an en­vi­ron­ment of un­lim­ited dis­tri­bu­tion with brands re­ally hav­ing much less con­trol over com­mu­ni­ca­tion than they used to and very, very scarce [cus­tomer] at­ten­tion spans.

‘‘It’s a world where brands like us need to think quite dif­fer­ently about the way we com­mu­ni­cate.’’

Count­down’s an­nounce­ment to ban sin­gle-use plas­tic bags by the end of next year may be a tes­ta­ment to the power of cus­tomer feed­back.

Gen­eral man­ager of cor­po­rate af­fairs, James Walker, said two years of cus­tomer re­search, chang­ing be­hav­iour, and so­cial me­dia feed­back, led to the ban.

‘‘We recog­nised that cus­tomers want to trust us,’’ he said. ’’We are fo­cus­ing on do­ing the right thing and tak­ing ac­tion on what cus­tomers care about.’’

Food and Gro­cery Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Kather­ine Rich said Face­book meant cus­tomers knew they could get what­ever they wanted, when­ever they wanted it, from wher­ever they wanted.

‘‘It makes the sup­ply chain in­cred­i­bly com­plex,’’ she said.

La­mont said there were draw­backs from be­ing on so­cial me­dia but it meant su­per­mar­kets could lis­ten to cus­tomers.

‘‘Price is one very dom­i­nant de­ci­sion cri­te­ria for peo­ple. They will choose where they shop firstly based on lo­ca­tion and se­condly around price.’’

But price wasn’t ev­ery­thing.

''Over 80 per cent of peo­ple would say they've shopped at more than one su­per­mar­ket over the course of a week.'' Brid­get La­mont.

’’Who are you and what do you bring to me and my life is im­por­tant in con­sumers’ mind.’’

Gro­cery prod­ucts and su­per­mar­kets were the fifth and sixth most com­plained about in­dus­tries, re­spec­tively, ac­cord­ing to this year’s Com­merce Com­mis­sion’s Con­sumer Is­sues re­port.

In the year to June, the con­sumer watch­dog re­ceived 98 com­plaints about Food­stuffs brand su­per­mar­kets, which in­clude Pak ‘n Save and New World, and 66 com­plaints about Pro­gres­sive En­ter­prises stores, Count­down, Su­perValue and Fresh Choice.

The re­port said price was the most com­plained about topic and La­mont agreed it was some­thing su­per­mar­kets couldn’t get away from.

La­mont said lower prices and bet­ter qual­ity fresh pro­duce were con­stant so­cial me­dia re­quests.

SUP­PLIED

Count­down mar­ket­ing man­ager Brid­get La­mont says cus­tomers shop pri­mar­ily on con­ve­nience.

Ban­ning the bag.

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