(As I promised, the Brand ManageCamp blog is going to be a virtual smorgasbord of thoughts from some of the top thinkers in marketing today. Just received this terrific post from 2 time Brand ManageCamp speaker Phil Lempert (The Supermarket Guru and NBC's TODAY Show Food Trends Editor. He's also an expert on Retail Technology trends - which is what he will be addressing at BMC2005). Enjoy! - Len)
FOOD BLOGS ARE IMPORTANT FOR OUR FUTUREIs the fastest growing feature of the Internet the savior of the
By Phil Lempert - NBC'S TODAY Show Food Trends Editor and Correspondent
Word-of-mouth has long been considered one of a supermarket's most valued
assets. The butcher who takes the time to explain how to prepare a certain
cut of meat perfectly and the baker who always has a warm cookie ready for
the after school treat, have been effective ways to get customers to tell
their friends just how great service a particular supermarket offers.
According to a recent Roper Report, Word-of-mouth (WOM) is valued twice as
much by shoppers as is traditional media. 92 percent of those surveyed by
NOP World say that WOM is the "best source of ideas and information", as
compared to just 50% who said the same about advertising.
Over the past 50 years, we've seen an enormous evolution of consumer power.
What started out as backyard discussions over clotheslines where our mothers
would discuss their opinions about retailers and products, evolved into 24
hour toll-free consumer hotlines, full-time consumer affairs staffs, letters
to the editor and at times, even protests and boycotts. Consumers want to be
heard. They want to actively communicate their thoughts and preferences; as
well as exposing dishonest practices, false claims and bad service.
Twenty years ago food shopping was different. Most consumers were satisfied
if their store offered a wide selection of products; had weekly specials and
the floors were clean. Since then we have changed the way we work, how we
play, how we get our entertainment, and how we shop. Much of that change has
to do with computerization and the Internet. 79 percent of shoppers today,
according to the Yankelovich Marketing Resistance Survey, 2004, use the
internet to research product claims before they buy.
The consumer is now in control - think "command center". Our cell phones and
Blackberrys have us wired in real-time to be able to find the latest
information on just about any product. The DoCoMo phone in Japan is enabling
shoppers to compare pricing between stores, discuss product features and
scan the product that is then billed on their phone bill.
The challenge is to use the technology and your relationships with shoppers
to your branding benefit.
Enter the "blog".
Blogs are now commonplace, and with high speed Web access close to 40
million lines, and available to over a third of people on the Internet,
retailers are using them to create buzz (the new terminology for
word-of-mouth) and measure just how new store formats and promotions are
being accepted by their customers. And with good reason. Blogs are
effective. 89% of shoppers, according to a poll conducted on
PlanetFeedback.com say they trust "recommendations from other consumers"
completely or somewhat vs. only 43% that trust those on TV ads.
A blog is created about every 2.2 seconds. In simple terms, a blog is a web
site, where people (and smart retailers) write on an ongoing basis. The
latest postings show up at the top, so your web visitors can read what's new
first. Then they can add their own comments directly on the blog, or email
Since blogging first came on the scene, blogs have reshaped the web,
impacted politics (think Matt Drudge), shaken up journalism (think Matt
Drudge), and enabled at last count, about 35 million people to have their
When consumers notice that their voice is being heard, they respond with a
stronger tie to the retailer (or brand) and become more involved. They blog
more, shop more, buy more, and spread the word. Shoppers, who know they are
being heard and listened to, talk more - and that's exactly what supermarket
retailers need. To have their most loyal shoppers spread the word about just
how good their store is.
But that's just one benefit.
The other, which I would argue is even more critical, is to learn from what
people are saying. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Last month on SupermarketGuru.com we ran a front page story on the FDA's
expected announcement on allowing food from cloned animals to enter the food
supply. In less than 4 days we received over 125 postings to our reader
blog. The consumer comments were diverse, some were articulate and some
emotional. But all represent consumers who want their opinions heard.
Blogs are an opportunity for supermarket retailers to reach out to their
shoppers and build relationships and sales by doing the exact same thing
that the corner store shopkeeper did 100 years ago - listening to what the
shopper has to say.