Shoppers get NID message

As NID dawned on Wednesday, June l, early morning television viewers and radio listeners were soon getting My Shop Is Your Shop’s constructive marketing message. Put in its simplest terms, they were reminded on millions of television sets throughout the UK and through no fewer than 21 local radio stations that their local independent retailer added irreplaceable value to their local community.

They were told that “today was National Independents’ Day”, a celebration of the value of the family business and the sole trader to the local community. These messages were transmitted and heard throughout the nation in the context of rising public anxiety about the future of local communities and the loss of neighbourhood culture as small businesses face increasingly competitive market conditions.

A friendly media, sensitive to communities reacting against loss of local identity and the cloning of the nation’s high streets into homogeneous uniformity, enabled millions of signals supporting the local independent retailer to reach consumers – the people who matter most in this battle for a balanced market.

BBC Breakfast News, Channel 5 News and ITN News were all soon on to the story of the day as was the crucial BBC Radio Five Live. Familiar faces appeared on screens throughout the country and familiar voices were heard putting over the message – wholesalers such as Philip Jenkins of Sugro, Athif Sarwar of United Wholesale Scotland, retailers such as Jonathan James, Sid Ali, Atul Amin, and John Maxwell Jones.

First off was Alan Twigg, the director of Nexus, the leading London consultancy driving the PR element of the campaign on behalf of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors. He was featured at 6.13am on BBC Breakfast News striding along a high street delivering a NID message as a wake-up call to both the consumer and the wholesale/independent sector.

Documentation recording the massive coverage of NID 2005 by local, regional and national media and the in-store promotional activity throughout the country, is under construction at the Eastbourne offices of FWD. This will be analysed and reviewed for next year’s celebration on Thursday, June l.

NID is the centrepiece of the FWD My Shop Is Your Shop Campaign, which was launched in 2004 to promote independent retailers who are the core customer base of delivered and cash and carry wholesalers.

The focus of the campaign is based on putting distance between the genuine independent retailer – the family business and sole trader living mostly “over the shop” – who can claim ownership of the Features > Business, and the manager of a c-store satellite owned by a giant superstore corporation.

One of the highlights of the coverage was the interview of Jonathan James, the Budgens independent retailer from Cambridgeshire, on BBC Business Breakfast. He told viewers that in relation to Tesco the shopper could look at the whole local package offered by independents, with competitive offers on products plus convenient location in the heart of the community.

Trade watchers applauded Jonathan’s response, but wondered where the interviewer had been living for the past decades to ask any local independent whether he was “cheaper than Tesco”.
The MSYS campaign is not anti-superstore – it is not a negative protest movement which could alienate consumers who have their favourite superstore and low-price perceptions. It is a campaign addressing those very same consumers reminding them that their local shop is an essential element in their local community life.

More than 500 independent retailers throughout the country, who are now the campaign’s “community stars”, were provided with a bank of promotional ideas for NID and guidance on how to interest the local media.

They also received T-shirts, caps, balloons and window stickers to help them mark June l as their day and many photographs have appeared in the trade press with retailers and their staff wearing the T-shirts and caps.

For next year, retailers on this database will be asked how they view the activity and how it could be improved within budget constraints.

The campaign is driven by the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) consisting of representatives of wholesalers and suppliers, the NFRN and RSA, whose next meeting in September will debate new approaches building on the huge success of this year’s NID.

The PRAG philosophy is based on a constructive marketing strategy of preventing further erosion of the independent retail sector by signalling value messages to the consumer – value based on helping the local community and the integral place of the local store in that community.

Wholesalers see increasing emphasis on community aspects of trading as a unique selling point for their independent retail customers.

The FWD body which runs the My Shop Is Your Shop campaign is the PR Action Group (PRAG). Its members are pictured above at a meeting and consist of representatives from: Bestway and Batleys, Costco, Key Lekkerland, Makro, Landmark, Musgrave Budgens-Londis, Nisa-Today’s, Parfetts, Spar and Sugro. The Rural Shops Alliance and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents are also represented.

Manufacturers representing the supplier community on PRAG include: Britvic Soft Drinks, Cadbury Trebor Bassett, Carlsberg UK, Gallaher, Nestlé Rowntree, Walkers and Masterfoods.
Delivered and cash and carry wholesalers who took part in NID to give complete coverage of the UK market were: Bestway and Batleys, Booker Cash Carry, Costco, JW Filshill, Key Lekkerland, Landmark, CJ Lang Son, Makro, Musgrave Budgens-Londis, Parfetts, Spar, Sugro, T A Symonds, The Today’s Group, AC Ward Son and WH HM Young.

Coverage by eight TV stations

10.1 million viewers reached

Total of 33 minutes of peak time TV coverage – five minutes more than a feature programme

21 radio stations participated including BBC Radio Five Live

18 million listeners reached

Radio coverage from Scotland, Lincolnshire, Wales to Cornwall

129 minutes of coverage in total – equalling a one and a half hour special radio feature programme

National press coverage in the Daily Mirror, Daily Record, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard

More than 30 regional press titles covered the story

Total press readers reached was more than 10 million

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