Co-op asks customers to develop brand positioning

The Co-Operative Group is asking customers to help develop its future brand positioning as it looks to rebuild its reputation following a tumultuous 2013. 

The retail, financial services, funeral care and travel group is asking people to complete an online survey to canvass opinion on its structure, values and services.

Specifically, people are being asked what the Co-op “means to people now and in the future”, how it could improve products and services and how it shares its profits.

The poll, which is being carried out by YouGov, is being promoted by a multi-million pound marketing campaign using the encouragement: “We know it’s time to change. But not until we’ve heard what you have to say”.

In a statement, chief executive Euan Sutherland says the survey is an attempt to reconnect with customers.

 “In recent years The Co-operative has lost touch with its customers and members and with the communities in which it operates – we haven’t been listening. As a new management team we are focused on renewing The Co-operative and the UK public will be vital to that process.”

The Group will feed the answers into its strategic review of its business, the results of which will be published in May. Changes to its marketing strategy and setup are expected as a result of the review.

The Co-operative was rocked last year by a series of revelations. It was forced to pull out of a deal to buy 630 bank branches from Lloyds after admitting to a £1.5bn hole in its finances and then its bank’s chairman Paul Flowers was forced to resign over allegations he took class A drugs.

The negative headlines hit perception of its supermarket business, which saw brand ratings drop in the wake of the revelations.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s “The Today Show” this morning (17 February) Sutherland denied there had been any brand contagion adding Co-op Food’s Christmas sales performance had been positive.

He says in the statement: “We have seen incredible loyalty from our customers, colleagues and members in recent months – now we want to reward that loyalty.”

The survey takes 20-minutes to complete, the Co-op says. It can be accessed online until 24 March. 

Reading on a mobile? Click here to watch Co-op’s ad to promote the survey.

If you have a great case study that puts customers at the heart of your business, remember to enter it into the Marketing Week Engage Awards in the category for Best Customer Experience in association with Quadrangle.

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