Digital Expertise Needed in Marketing Store Brands


ROSEMONT, Ill. — Retailing today requires expertise in digital and social media to connect with consumers, and that extends to the marketing of store-brand products.

"Technology has changed retail and grocery forever," digital strategist Carlos Gil said during his Feb. 27 presentation at the Store Brands 2015 Innovation & Marketing Summit, held in Rosemont.

Today's consumers are more connected and influential than ever, Gil noted, and they have more options than ever before. As such, "they want to be engaged, not sold to." In addition, they make purchasing decisions based on how accessible the retailer is in multiple places.

Thus, to succeed in marketing store-brand products, retailers need to have relevant conversations with their shoppers. They also must turn their customers into marketers for their own brands.

As an example of effective customer marketing, Gil pointed to Coca-Cola and its Share a Coke campaign on the consumer packaged goods (CPG) side. The campaign, which featured personalized bottles and social media shares, resulted in a 25-percent increase in sales of Coke products following a decade of decline.

Gil, who formerly worked for Winn-Dixie Stores Inc./Bi-Lo Holdings and Save-A-Lot, also pointed to a recent Bi-Lo Chek Soda campaign as a success story on the store-brand side. The retailer ran a scratch-and-match game on Facebook. Participants clicked on soda can images to match flavors and win. Winners received a gift card in varying amounts and had a chance to win free Chek Soda for a year.

The campaign not only drove awareness of Bi-Lo’s Chek Soda store brand, Gil said, but it also gave the retailer the opportunity to capture customer emails for future initiatives. Moreover, the campaign featured a "share" functionality, turning customers into own-brand marketers.

"The end game is to grow sales," Gil noted. "How you get there is by building engaged, loyal communities of shoppers."

He recommends that retailers ask themselves five key questions to address any shortcomings that might negatively impact their ability to engage consumers effectively via digital and social media:

1. Do you have the right people?
2. Do you have the right IT and technology?
3. Do you believe that your customers, not your brand or competitors, drive market trends?
4. Do you know what your competitors are doing?
5. Do you have the right company culture?

The 2015 Store Brands Innovation & Marketing Summit took place Feb. 25-27 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare hotel in Rosemont. Store Brands is a sister publication of Convenience Store News and Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner.

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