Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Fan Or Fantasy?

Economic conditions have proven difficulty for retailers this past year and today there are announcements of profit warnings from some of the "pile it high" stores.

By contrast, the managing director of Waitrose supermarkets apparently receives 50 letters a week from people asking him to open branches in their neighbourhood.

They're definitely supermarkets, though physically smaller with a focussed product range aimed at a slightly upmarket clientele. Their market share may only be 4% but their differences clearly appeal and this creates the loyalty that other retailers lack.

The managing director can genuinely declare that "We don't have customers so much as fans." That's something that any contemporary would dearly love to repeat and which critics of the economic underpinnings of certain social network businesses should note.

Think of making people your fans rather than passive customers with "loyalty" cards and business gets a lot more interesting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely put John. I love how they resolutely stick to their core proposition with everything they do. The word of mouth they get is amazing.

4:43 AM, January 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes - they do very well. I am a big fan - in so much as I am a customer. I am a fan of being a customer. I am not a fan of some intangible element that Waitrose delivers to me that does something special for me. They're not fucking Blue Stratos. It's just a really, really nice shop.

It's not a patch on the local market however. You know why ? Because it's still more like Tesco than the bloke who sells me oranges and will tell me about the history of the street.

They just have a good business plan well executed and intelligent people working there who are motivated and well incentivised (I imagine).

And high ceilings. And attractive assistants (although maybe that's just the Saturday ones).

6:08 AM, January 03, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

I wonder if people's desire to have a Waitrose in their community is more to do with not wanting to feel 'left behind' rather than Waitrose offering something unique and desirable.

I know that might sound wank - but we've just done some work in Indonesia and found that the real reason behind certain brand choice/desirability was because it gave people a sense of 'belonging' [to the wider population] as opposed to it offering any inherent desirable quality.

[Yes, it's the bastard-love-child of the old 'status' brand sell]

In some circumstances though, once the brand had been made 'available' to the community - they just carried on regardless because to them, it was the fact they COULD have it if they wanted it - rather than them holding out to purchase.

A similar situation is developing in Shanghai where the city has been so overwhelmed with luxury brands vying for people's cash, that certain groups have started lobbying smaller more niche brands to come and set up 'shop' because they believe without it, they can't be truly regarded as a real global city.

We're all slaves to our aspirations, ha!

5:31 PM, January 03, 2008  
Blogger john dodds said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:35 AM, January 04, 2008  

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