Last week we asked an important question – can our grocery retailers change their strategic focus from price and deliver something else, perhaps even design the customer experience in a different and perhaps more enlightened way?
It seems to have generated quite a bit of interest, which was our hope, and while we are not suggesting that retailers are not focused on the customer experience; our point is that perhaps the focus is at only at an extremely functional starting point. Retailers have, after all, invested heavily in loyalty building campaigns over the recent years – while one view is that is simply building fences around customers to stop them straying, the other is that loyalty is a human emotion and a result of a valued and trusted relationship. Yes a two way relationship.
So it was interesting in the light of our last thought piece that two things leaped to our attention this week.
Firstly, we noted Sainsbury’s has parted ways with AMV BBDO following a near 40-year association and appointed Wieden+Kennedy as its new creative agency. W+K were formerly Tesco’s lead agency, but broke through after making Honda, at the time a dull and overlooked brand, much more engaging with some truly iconic advertising and a strategy built around the Power of Dreams. Can we then anticipate a more experiential advertising approach from Sainsbury’s to build on their previously emotionally engaging and award winning Christmas campaigns featuring ‘WW1 Truce’ and ‘Mog the Cat’? Will W+K take the strategy towards a more experiential destination?
Secondly, Apples’ Director of Retail was visiting the UK and was interviewed about the changes to the Apple Retail Concept. We know the world of grocery and technology retailing are a long way apart but we felt there are some interesting connections between some of the points we were making last week and the focus of Angela Ahrendts former retail director at Burberry, now Head of Retail at Apple and looking at some dramatic and thematic changes focused on the way the stores will be used.
The new stores are supposed to evoke a town square (a parallel to a market street idea?). The idea is that you go to the store, geek out on what is there and learn how it all works together. If the concept works as designed, you’ll buy into Apple’s entire ecosystem of hardware, content and services—at least for another few years. This is really focusing on cementing a brand relationship by providing a space where you will develop other relationships with real people.
The new Apple stores will be separated into different zones:
The Avenue is where you can buy your hardware and the most retail looking part of the store; Genius Grove replaces the Genius Bar which was found to be too noisy and raucous at busy periods – here you can talk to experts under a tree canopy.
The Forum ramps up the experience using a high-definition 30 foot video screen and will be used to host game nights, music-video premieres as well as artists and musicians discussing their craft. Shoppers / guests can enjoy the intimate show from a few dozen wooden and leather stools. In an overt play to develop the business to business market Apple Stores will now host The Boardroom where entrepreneurs, developers and owners of small and medium-sized business can learn how to make the most of their iPad Pros and Mac Pros. Where possible a few of the emergent flagship stores will have a Plaza which is an outdoor zone featuring free Wi-Fi access and local art and sculpture exhibits.
So just a little exposure to this kind of thinking could go a long way – food pairing and recipes are already present as cards to take home or online as part of the ordering process but are seldom found on interactive devices which appear to be currently focused on being drivers for online grocery ordering. Imagine taking two minutes to scan through some suggested recipes for dinner in the car park and then being guided to the ingredients you need in store or given a multi-buy saving because you have selected 4 or more ingredients from the list. It would not take much to suggest a wine pairing for that meal and the option to share the recipe with a friend or partner.
Okay – it’s not for everybody, but it does turn the relationship between retailer and customer around, from functional provider to co-creator, co-conspirator or even confidante?