Will stories help shoppers fall back in love with the Tesco brand?
As a time-poor mother-of-two who tries to stick to a weekly food budget but regularly fails at this and, if I’m being honest, actually favours convenience, I’m probably the ideal target customer for supermarkets.
This is why it’s always puzzled me that I’ve never really identified with any of the marketing campaigns that have been delivered from the Big Four grocers over the last few years.
Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have primarily talked about price instead of articulating their brand value. And this messaging has never really connected with me in any meaningful way that would inspire, or drive brand loyalty.
This has largely been due to the rise of Aldi and Lidl, who have undoubtedly changed the supermarket landscape and forced the traditional Big Four to enter into a heavy discounting strategy in order to attract customers.
But things are changing, and it’s a telling sign of things to come in the grocery sector.
The latest figures in the 12 weeks to January 1 2017, show that between them Aldi and Lidl have a 10.4% share of the UK grocery market, cementing their position in the top league.
However, there is also a change in the fortunes for both Tesco and Morrisons, with both reporting sales growth (1.3% and 1.2% respectively) for the first time in a long while.
The latest figures are good news for Tesco, which at first lost the most ground to the German discounters, and is a sign that new boss Dave Lewis’ strategy of ‘fixing the budget before building up the brand’ is beginning to work.
Tesco has spent the last two years looking at improving every aspect of the shopping trip for customers, including improving customer service, lowering prices on “everyday” products and introducing its “Brand Guarantee” service.
Having spent 24 months “sorting out the budget” and getting things straight internally, the launch of a new two-year marketing campaign in January is a clear sign it is now looking to build up its brand, and signals a huge shift in the way the grocery giant is looking to connect with customers.
And for the first time I’ve found myself engaged with the brand as a shopper.
‘Food Love Stories’ is such a simple idea. Telling the stories behind the meals people make for the people they love.
And the campaign uses those stories, the food and the people, to set out the retailer’s food quality credentials and celebrate the passion and care that goes into making meals.
Its focus is back on the quality message, tapping into the emotions of customers and, interestingly, is getting right back to basics in its approach of using story-telling to do it.
Alongside TV ads, the campaign is running in print, outdoor, radio and online, supported by a content hub housing videos, information, recipe cards for the featured meals and various other items of shareable content and insight.
What the campaign does well is that it provides authentic, entertaining and transparent experiences, understanding the role food plays in people’s lives with relatable stories and a strong “me too” element.
Today it’s not about how good you are in marketing, but how well you can tell your story and engage with, and influence, your audience.
And a quick search online proves that David’s ‘hot-or-not chicken curry’ story has all the right ingredients for a good story: narrative structure, compelling characters and an involved audience.
Across the main social platforms – YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – people are being positively influenced by the campaign; actively using the #foodlovestories to engage directly with the brand, and also privately within their own social circles.
They’re sharing their own experiences of food love stories, posting pictures and videos of their own attempts at cooking David’s curry, as well as sharing the content Tesco has provided across their own social channels.
We’re now in a period where we expect brands to entertain, stimulate and offer exciting real-life and engaging experiences. Long-term this can be hard to achieve as products expire, but stories live and values get etched into our life.
And this campaign taps into this basic concept in a really smart, authentic way.
Stories breathe life into a brand and people connect with stories. Those brands that deliver it right receive unshakeable loyalty, advocacy, engagement and, essentially, hard-earned cash from customers.