The Fincham philosophy: more is more

It was the only piece of show business to highlight the FWD annual conference at The Belfry in April. Alan Fincham, who runs the Londis News Extra, at Attleborough, Norfolk, walked on to the stage in his Darth Vader outfit.

The crux of his message to an audience of wholesalers and suppliers was: “NID is just a first step. Please give us more.”

His Darth Vader outfit reminded the delegates that this was the way he chose to celebrate NID in 2005, making a big impact on his local customer community.

“If it attracts attention then that’s what we have to do” says Alan. The Fincham philosophy hits the spot – it’s all about reminding the shopper of the value of the local independent.

Who is this “shopper”?

It is everybody. The spectrum of users of local stores reflects the multiple shopper base, with an increase in usage by singles, young mothers and the elderly.

But where the multiple has the huge advantage of bottomless marketing budgets for TV, radio and press promotion of its offerings, the independent retailer cannot call on this type of resource.

So they had to rely on their own creativity, helped by their wholesaler. Until MSYS came along.

Funded by wholesalers and supportive suppliers, MSYS is the only positive generic PR and marketing support campaign in existence for the independent. It is not an anti-multiple lobby – the anti-Tesco protest movement is fuelled by other lobbies so there is no need for duplication.

In 2005, MSYS helped by a mostly sympathetic media, achieved national coverage for its pro-independent message worth pound;1.5million in equivalent costed advertising terms. Luck is what you need in PR and as NID approaches again, campaigners are hoping that Bush will not invade Iran on the eve of June lst, or that there will be some natural disaster which keeps NID off the air.

The Daily Mirror/Daily Record money-off coupon promotion has grown from seven big brands in 2005 to ten this year, demonstrating the best value for money seen by suppliers who achieve national exposure for their brands at a very modest cost in promotional impact terms. Extensive independent trade press support for MSYS reflects editors’ responses to their readers’ needs and interests.

How can MSYS and NID build in 2007?

The Fincham call for more depends on budget availability as a first base. But it also seeks more creativity by those driving the campaign. Wholesalers now recognise that there is a new stream of revenue available from a formalised national community marketing programme impacting on the consumer.

“Consumer is king” has never been as important fundamentally as it is now in an industry under ferocious attack by the multiples and which any helpful legislation will be too late to remedy wholesale sustainability in itself. MSYS has already shown it can make a tangible contribution to the commercial future of the industry with its stimulus to retailers to “get into community”.

MSYS can attract tabloid support for coupon promotion and linked editorial at the best ever value/cost terms. MSYS can persuade the national media to feature the independent.

Football, the great British national game, has now been identified as a new opportunity for independents, through MSYS, to link up with their local professional clubs. Other ideas are on the back burner.

MSYS can become a greater platform for the industry when it achieves wider support from the industry – individual wholesaler and supplier marketing activity will have a bigger generic umbrella under which it can thrive. All because the shopper needs nudging towards more realisation that he or she needs independents and the diversity they bring to the market.

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