Loblaws is Listening to Canadians

Jen Norris    October 20, 2014

loblaws logo
Industry: Retail

Loblaws is Developing Products that Consumers are Talking About

When I was a kid we sat down at the dinner table for Thanksgiving, said grace and ate. After dinner we sat around chatting and played a game of cards. Things sure have changed. In the age of social media, we sit down to a Thanksgiving meal and take pictures with our smartphone of our meal and family. After dinner, we proceed to upload all the pictures to our social media sites and discuss the meal and recipes.

After we have posted on our social media sites, we watch to see who reads our updates and what’s being said. Loblaws has also been listening to what Canadians are saying about food. Loblaws has taken it a step further and has partnered with Google Inc to create a “Food Pulse Index”. “The index is the first to track food trends nationally and by province, on the basis of Google search insights. Insights will be grouped by theme, search trends will be assessed against thousands of related words and terms, information will be assessed regionally and nationally, and the results will be presented visually and with editorial at pc.ca.” (2014) “Canada’s top food brand, President’s Choice, modernizes message to reflect today’s broader customer cravings”,  PC Website, Sept 18

What was trending for Thanksgiving? As I started to think about Thanksgiving, I searched on line for new twists on traditional sides to the Thanksgiving meal. No surprise, the big trend is Kale, however, cauliflower was not on the charts as compared to previous years. In response to the Thanksgiving trend, Loblaws posted products that consumers would be likely to purchase for the holiday as well as helpful recipes and tips for the holiday.

It’s always easy to respond to what people are talking about. What about what people aren’t talking about. How do you leverage the situation in order to get people talking? For example, with the fall season being in full swing, root vegetables are in season. What if there isn’t enough conversation on line about root vegetables? Loblaws will respond by providing images, recipes, polls and information about the root vegetable. Now people are thinking and talking about root vegetables.

“It’s a very different approach to marketing. It’s no longer about, ‘We’ve invented this new product and you can try it,’ ” Mr. Stueckmann said. “It’s about engaging in a real conversation about food with consumers.”Susan Krashinsky (2014) “Loblaws targets food-savvy Canadians in Major Marketing Overhaul” The Globe and Mail, Sept 17

Loblaws has seen an opportunity to transition from a food brand to a lifestyle brand. Their latest marketing campaign, “Crave More”, is based on the trend that people are becoming more sophisticated when it comes to their food. This new campaign includes TV commercials, in store marketing, a new website and a larger social media presence. On September 18th, Loblaws released it new video called “Crave More”

“In an age when curiosity and scrutiny surround the purchase and enjoyment of food, President’s Choice will remain Canada’s most thoughtful and engaged food brand,” said Galen Weston, executive chairman and president of Loblaw Companies. “Today’s customer craves more distinct and exotic flavours. They crave more knowledge about what is healthy and what is not. They crave information about where their food comes from and how it is made. And they are engaging every day in passionate conversations about food quality, taste and trust. The President’s Choice brand has led and served Canadian taste buds and food interests for three decades. We’ve never witnessed a time when our role as a food manufacturer and retailer has meant more. The modernization of our brand will mean more food innovation, greater consciousness around product sourcing and ingredients, and a heartier dialogue with Canadians who share our excitement and curiosity.” (2014) “Loblaws Breaks New President Choice Campaign”, AdNews, Sept 18

What better way to track what Canadians food purchases are, than to launch the PC Points Reward Card. In April 2013, Loblaws launched a test program in Ontario and in November 2013, expanded to other provinces. The program is designed to offer points based on consumers purchasing habits. The program differs from other reward programs because the structure isn’t based off a total purchase price. Instead, points are only collected when products are purchased with downloaded or in store offers attached to them. This program gives Loblaws the opportunity to drive purchased decisions on certain products and can use the purchase history to decide what individual customers are likely to purchase and when.

Loblaws hopes the outcome of this “Crave More” campaign will strengthen its reputation for food innovation. With the revamp of the website, there’s a new section called “Discoveries” which invites Canadians to discuss not only President’s Choice products but about food in general and what it means to Canadians. The company will be utilizing social media and consumer generated content that contain the hashtags #presidentchoice and #pcdiscoveries. The content will then be placing it on their website, along with product information, recipes and tips.

The second TV commercial aired on Oct 16th, with the promise to remove all artificial colours and flavours to their products. When consumers are asking more questions and reading product labels, the interest is not only in new foods but also knowing what’s in it and where it come from.


Lessons Learned

Even though something has been successful in the past doesn’t mean that it will be successful in the future. Loblaws has had some very successful marketing strategies in the past however, as the consumer base is becoming more sophisticated, Loblaws must keep up with the trends.  With the increase in Social Media people have become more food-savvy and more knowledgeable. Loblaws has spent the last year developing a marketing strategy that is in response to what consumers are talking about through social media. Consumers are no longer interested in trying products that a company is developing, they want to be involved and know their opinion matter in the product development.

Web References

Globe and Mail
Marketing Mag
The Bitten Word
Savvy Chicks Media
Loblaws Facebook Page
PC Discoveries Tweets