Supermarkets are starting to take social seriously

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Tesco has bought online word of mouth agency BzzAgent just a month after Wal-Mart bought social networking firm Kosmix, showing that the sector is turning a corner in social media.

Tesco’s latest acquisition follows its acquisition of online video on demand platform Blinkbox last month, just a d ay after CEO Philip Clarke outlined his vision for the supermarket and its need to harness digital innovations to drive growth.

The US-based agency creates word of mouth campaigns by sending products and coupons to 800,000 “Buzz Agents” who promote products among online friends and social networks.

Wal-Mart plans to use Kosmix, a platform that aggregates data from social networking sites, to drive online and digital innovation and social commerce across its global business.

At the time Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman at Wal-Mart, said the acquisition reflected that social networking and mobile apps are becoming a part of its customers daily lives and influencing how they shop, online and in stores.

BzzAgent will be controlled by Tesco’s data agency dunnhumby, which created and runs its Clubcard – and look at the profound impact Clubcard had on the business.

Combining its data prowess with social media access and information could be the start of the next generation of retailer loyalty programmes.

The potential here is huge, because it’s not something the supermarkets have really got on board with yet.

Tesco was slow to get its Facebook presence sorted and only really got it together a few months or so despite being ahead of the curve in other digital areas, such as ecommerce and mobile apps.

These acquisitions show that the supermarkets are ready to take social media seriously, and not just dabble in a touch of twitter here, and a Facebook flourish there.

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