When the MSYS activity was in the creative stage, deliberations centred on how the consumer, on whom the future of the sector depends, could be engaged and persuaded that independent c-stores, newsagents and rural shops matter. On a limited budget, MSYS needs all the help it can get to attract the attention of shoppers, living in the store’s immediate neighbourhood, from whom every penny of available spend needs to be extracted.
Public relations activity in the national and local media is one method – but the most effective link with the shopper is via the retailer, their staff and their shop. Londis grasped the potential of the first ever National Independents’ Week (NIW) from the start, using it not only as a platform to inform consumers but also as a basis on which it could demonstrate that it believes that the retailers it serves are just as important.
Londis, under MBL, has developed into a leading high quality symbol group and its independent retailers expect, and receive, a level of service and advice which ensures every opportunity to win turnover is taken – often with a touch of flair which equals that of any giant multiple.
The images on this page illustrate the marketing concept which Londis applied to NIW. The invitation to retailers to join the MSYS movement and celebrate NIW is couched in terms which encourages the retailer to understand the simple concept of community means business and that profile for a local shop will build that business.
Retailers were provided with a window poster which told the neighbourhood about NIW and at the same time thanked them for their support of their local Londis store.
Londis also negotiated with supportive suppliers participating in the Daily Mirror/Daily Record money-off coupon feature for NIW to use the incentive in the special consumer leaflets it provides for its retailers.
Looking to “central office” (as independents refer to their group HQs) to give them as much help as possible, Londis retailers received a fund of ideas on how to engage with their local community. It was all about connection. Connect with your shoppers, connect with your MP, connect with your local paper… get involved and spread the word. That was the message.
It is a fact that new concepts such as MSYS and NIW need time to filter down from central offices and committees such as the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) which drives the campaign. Persistence is needed. Independents are busy people – and it is a wholesaler responsibility to ensure that they are busy doing the right things. By promoting their value to the community – a unique selling point – independents can connect with that community in a way which can only build business.
Londis provided 100 stickers to its retailers to hand out to shoppers promoting NIW. A very nice touch indeed.
=== A THEME EVERY DAY DURING NIW ===
These were the Londis suggestions for an in-store theme for each day of NIW:
Monday: Fun For Kids – face painting, colouring, fancy dress competitions.
Tuesday: Fundraising – raffles for local charities, guess the weight of a cake, choose a name for a teddy.
Wednesday: Link up with local schools – invite children and a teacher to the store to learn how a local shop is run, how business works, why local shops are important.
Thursday: Help the elderly – offer free deliveries, put on a coffee morning at a local old folks’ home.
Friday: Encourage your staff to invent a theme for the day – a fun day, a healthy eating special day or a sports day.
Saturday: Team day – team up with local suppliers or producers to put on specials or tastings.
Sunday: Link day – link up with other local businesses/travel agents to promote holidays or estate agents to arrange a welcome parcel of goodies for new home owners.