Footfall coupons – MSYS makes history

On May 27, just ahead of National Independents’ Day (NID) on June l, money-off coupons for big brands will appear in The Daily Mirror and in Scotland’s Daily Record giving the consumer the best deals ever at local independent stores. This historic promotion will be wrapped in advertorial pages promoting the value of the family business and sole trader to the local community.

For the first time on a national basis, every independent retailer served by every wholesaler throughout the UK will be supported by mass circulation tabloids putting millions of money-off coupons into circulation. This massive achievement meets wholesaler requests for the My Shop Is Your Shop campaign (MSYS) to be given real teeth – giving shoppers a real reason to visit their local store around NID on June l.

Genuinely supportive suppliers have demonstrated their faith in the MSYS concept. They have invested in this NID footfall coupon promotion because they believe in it, because they want to support wholesalers and because they are smart enough to latch on to an initiative which independent retailers are now demanding.

Anyone with just five minutes experience of the supplier/wholesaler relationship will know that the organisation behind this huge marketing undertaking has required an exceptional level of commitment and energy from those who accepted the challenge to get it off the drawing board into reality. This is the story behind the headlines shouting the news of the coupon promotion to the marketplace.

MORE THAN PUBLIC RELATIONS
Following the successful first NID in 2004, wholesalers revealed their impatient trading culture by asking for a commercial activity to be included in the overall marketing plan for NID 2005. In 2004, more than 12 million consumer hits had been achieved by the regional and local media campaign focusing on the independent retailer and their irreplaceable function in the local community.

Local press and radio highlighted the campaign featuring independent retailers and wholesalers. The MSYS image was launched and it had struck the right media chord.

This was despite faltering wholesaler support in some cases (in contrast to the full-blooded support by most wholesalers) and lots of lethargy, scepticism and cynicism by a few unenlightened retailers.

Wholesaler concerns and requests for footfall focus were tabled at the PR Action Group (PRAG) set up by the orchestrators of the activity, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors. PRAG consists of supplier and wholesaler representatives who genuinely want to work for the good of the total wholesale/independent market – putting aside petty competitive vested interests which can be corrosive and have been so in the past. Suppliers and wholesalers remain fiercely competitive with their own marketing strategies.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
The issue was debated within PRAG and taken back to various wholesaler companies. Then two key people who are members of PRAG, Barrie Breward of Nisa-Today’s and Graham Shelley of IMA, decided to stop talking and start acting. They drove to York to accept specialist advice offered generously to PRAG – representing the wholesale industry – by marketing experts at Nestlé Rowntree.

Professionals within the supplier community will understand the challenge – PRAG had to get this right at the concept, planning and execution stages. Breward, Shelley and Nestlé Rowntree put down the plan.

Wholesalers faced with this revolutionary, mould-breaking footfall coupon plan in major national tabloids (providing a platform which leaps over wholesale mechanisms right into the lap of the shopper) were initially overcome by the impudence, the sheer imagination and vision expressed in the promotion, that they needed a second look at it. After the second look wholesalers were completely convinced that they too wanted it and they wanted it big.

Shelley then had to find the right national newspaper with a readership profile fitting our independent retailers’ customer base and negotiate to secure a deal at the right cost on the right dates … and he succeeded. By sharing the costs, the seven participating suppliers achieve bargain-basement pricing and exposure for their brands in exactly the right mass-circulation tabloids.

A vast canvas of supportive suppliers revealed that there was enough backing to achieve lift–off for a scheme that gives every wholesaler who wants it and every retailer who wants it a footfall driver. It will operate beneath the generic consumer PR media activity which will once again hit the media in the run up to and on NID on June l.

SCEPTICISM OVERCOME
The supplier and related wholesaler communities have their fair share of doomsters and negativists. What about malredemption? What about the giant superstore satellites taking the coupons instead of independents? Who handles the coupons? These questions can usually be translated into new meanings such as “is it more work for me?”, “how much profit will I personally make out of it?”, “I can’t take on anything which I haven’t tried before” and “why can’t the supplier just hand over the value of the coupons to me in cash?”

There is no such thing as a consumer promotion on a national scale working through hundreds of wholesale depots and thousands of independent retail outlets which will deliver efficiency levels of 100%. There is no such thing as an individual wholesaler-driven promotion – by the great or the small – which will bring the supplier, the wholesaler and the retailer a guaranteed 100% market and financial response.

Oh! The investment by suppliers, at many times the cost to the individual manufacturer incurred by this MSYS coupon promotion which has gone astray. Tell me about it.

The first level of success of the PRAG driven money-off coupon promotion for NID is this: every wholesaler whether a member of FWD or not and every independent retailer supplied by any type of wholesaler now has a footfall promotion based on brands the consumer wants.

The second level of success is that millions of money-off coupons will be in circulation just when the consumer PR campaign hits the media. Wholesalers and suppliers on PRAG, the suppliers who are participating and investing in the activity, and the instinctive, imaginative and industry-wide vision of the instigators, have given our market a new platform for the future.

Marketing activity on a generic scale is more cost-efficient than individual company incentives. But the latter will now have more consumer awareness and a firmer platform on which they can operate. Everybody wins.

Every major wholesaler throughout the UK will participate

Orchestrated by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors

Centrepiece of the on-going My Shop Is Your Shop campaign

More than 14 million coupons will be in circulation for NID on June 1

Feature in the Daily Mirror and Daily Record in Scotland, with editorial support

More than 1.2 million readers of these titles are regular users of local independents

Regional and local consumer media PR campaign countrywide promoting community values of independents

PRAG MEMBERS
The FWD PR Action Group orchestrating the MSYS activity consists of: Barrie Breward Becky Campbell (Nisa-Today’s), James Hall Geoff Monk (Bestway Batleys), Graham Shelley Emma Sadler (Parfetts), Chris Rose Ray Donelan (Landmark), Michael Saxton (Key Lekkerland), Sue Knowles (Costco), Rosie McFarlane (Musgrave Budgens-Londis), Philip Jenkins (Sugro), Adam Whalley (Makro), Barry Wallis (Spar).

Representing the supplier community:
Mike Tipping (Cadbury Trebor Bassett), Jo Grainger (Constellation Europe), Caroline Cater Keith Rayner (Britvic), Jim Hughes (Walkers), Graham Walker (Nestlé Rowntree), Paul Gilliatt (Carlsberg), Ian Watts (Gallaher), Trevor West (Masterfoods).

Representing trade bodies: Catherine Tong (NFRN), Sean Carter (RSA).

Advisors: Alan Twigg Louise Stone (Nexus Communications).

BRANDS INVOLVED
Scottish Courage Brands FOSTER’S LAGER 500ml 4-PACK – 20p OFF COUPON

Masterfoods UNCLE BEN’S EXPRESS 250g – 30p OFF COUPON

Britvic Soft Drinks ROBINSONS 1 LITRE FRUIT SQUASHES – ALL FLAVOURS EXCEPT BARLEY WATERS, FRUIT BARLEY AND HIGH JUICE – 30p OFF COUPON

Heinz HEINZ SALAD CREAM 425g – 30p OFF COUPON

Coca-Cola Enterprises ALL 500ml Z’s AND 500ml DIET COKE VARIANTS – 30p OFF COUPON

Walkers ANY NEW DORITOS – 99P PRICE MARKED 140g SHARING PACK – 20p OFF COUPON

Nestlé Rowntree AERO CARAMEL STANDARD 42g OR KIT KAT EDITIONS CARAMEL 45g – 15P OFF COUPON

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