The FWD My Shop Is Your Shop campaign was launched in 2004 to fill the vacuum caused by the absence of any positive generic consumer public relations and trade campaign promoting the interests of wholesalers’ customers.
It was incredible to think that in the 21st century, a pound;17bn market did not operate a generic PR campaign supporting its sources of revenue. MSYS is a campaign based on the unique added value that the sole trader and family business brings to the local community.
The retailer who lives “over the shop” shares the ups and downs of the community and is connected with the local neighbourhood in a way which cannot be copied by the multiple c-store or superstore manager. This uniqueness is packaged by MSYS and sold to the consumer. MSYS also inspires the independent retailer to maximise their involvement with the community. Why? Because this involvement will produce footfall.
The multiple manager will be highly trained and professional. They will run a clinically designed store. And they will be on a career path – and a job specification – which is designed by a distant sophisticated head office. Unlike the independent who is 100%-plus dependent on the people among whom they live.
It’s a virtuous circle – the consumer increasingly recognises the value of “community”, the independent retailer provides a focal point, and the connection between shop and customer should be set in stone. If it is not set in stone, then MSYS will help to overcome the gap.
At its Lutterworth meeting, PRAG debated creative ideas for NIW which included, among other things, supplier personnel from one wine company working in a shop for a day.
There will be a wine tasting in these stores – one of the many ideas which has been published by MSYS in its “Fifty Ideas for Retailers for MSYS” document (available from email@example.com, subject: Fifty Ideas)
Another idea which has come from a retailer is that cash and carries should appoint one member of staff to be the MSYS Champion and wear the appropriate T-shirt (available from firstname.lastname@example.org subject: Champion T-shirt).
Cash and carry depots are busy places with staff deployed in various capacities usually at full tilt, but if one member of staff can be briefed using the MSYS Depot Manager’s Guide (available from head offices or email@example.com, subject: Depot Manager’s MSYS guide) it will pay dividends.
Retailers say that they get most of their information from their wholesaler and that they trust their wholesaler to provide them with help for their business.
By explaining the benefits of community marketing to independent retailers, the wholesaler and their staff will be helping to increase depot sales and those of the inquiring retailer. Sid Ali, the Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire retailer who has made community marketing a hugely successful platform for his Features > Business, said retailers want PR and marketing advice from wholesalers. He takes it as a given that wholesalers will provide the right products in the right categories at the right price – if not the retailer can change wholesaler – but PR is key.
One of the principles of MSYS is based on guiding retailers into informing the local media of his community activities and so building profile. The giant retailers have the knack of turning bad news, such as protests and environmental issues, into good news for the consumer by insisting that everything they do has one purpose – to give the shopper the lowest price.
But the independent retailer has the unique interface with his customers, most of whom he will know by name, on which he can build a priceless trading platform.
MSYS means footfall, as more retailers are now discovering.
=== how independent retailers celebrated national independents’ day ===
Examples of how independent retailers throughout the UK have celebrated MSYS and National Independents’ Day (now National Independents’ Week).
These are a small selection of reports from wholesalers, the trade press and some from retailers themselves. They represent inner-city, urban, and rural independent c-stores, newsagents and rural shops.
Ash Patel, SS News, Kettering
Wore the special MSYS T-shirt and decorated his store with MSYS balloons.
Satish Patek, Squires News, London
Wore the T-shirt and told his local press that when they come into his shop his customers are always greeted with a smile.
Sid Ali, Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire
Wore the T-shirts, used balloons to decorate the store, put on special displays. Sales up 30% on corresponding week in 2005.
Mathew Croft sally cann, Crofts, Silverstone
Organised a free goodie bag to offer to customers buying the local paper. Decorated their shop specially.
Alan Fincham, Londis, Attleborough
Dressed as Darth Vader and his staff donned cartoon character costumes – big impact on neighbourhood. Teamed up with Gaymers Cider with staff dressed in apple pickers costumes – tastings in store.
Denis Williams, of Edinburgh,
Interviewed on Scottish television and his local MSP visited the store for a press photo opportunity.
PBarbara and George Makinson, Chorley Old Road, Bolton
Gave customers 20p off KitKat, published their own coupon in the Bolton Evening News. Use the local paper, they say. They were featured in the paper prominently.
Neil Helen Waddington, Newsagents, Stockport
Promoted their community links by wearing the special MSYS T-shirt and put on special offers.
Atul Sodha, Londis in Harefield, Middlesex
Dressed up in a pantomime cow costume, promoted locally produced ice cream, encouraged face painting and served a celebration cake.
Kishor Patel, Northampton
BBC Breakfast visited the store – lots of publicity – millions of consumers heard the message.
Jonathan James, Londis
Appeared on BBC Breakfast TV and promoted the sector. He also organised a party of customers to visit the distribution centre to help customers understand how goods arrived at his Soham store.
Mohammed Issa, 1stStop2Shop, Dundee
Gave his customers free gooodie bags on the day and wore the local and proud of it T-shirt as did his staff.
John Carolan, Newsagent, Bournemouth
Featured the promotion organised to support NID by the Bournemouth Daily Echo. The Echo set up road shows in eight shops.
Asif Ashraf, Londis, Netherton
Funded the new strip for the local under-15s soccer team – claret and amber with the Londis logo on the chest,
Abdul Qadar, Ramzan Sons, Edinburgh
Put on special offers and created powerful window display. It was very successful, he said.
Sunder Sandher, Londis, Leamington Spa
Promoted NID is store to publicise high level of commitment to the local community. Big response from customers.
=== WHAT HAPPENS ON JUNE 4 ===
Activity for NIW, which breaks on June 4, is in the final stages of planning by the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) consisting of suppliers, wholesalers and retailers.
First a sustained public relations programme using local and regional press, radio and TV is being planned. This will alert the shopper to NIW. Millions of “consumer hits” have been achieved through the media by the campaign since launch in 2004.
Under this PR “umbrella” independent retailers can put on displays in their stores, create or join in local activities, offer price promotions, put on wine tastings and so on. In-store theatre kits of T-shirts, caps, balloons and stickers will be available to those retailers who apply for them – and to wholesalers who wish to purchase bulk orders.