Spar to up marketing budget as it seeks to improve value perceptions

Spar is set to increase it media spend by 22 per cent in its next financial year and focus on its ‘There For You’ message as it seeks to improve perceptions of value and put Spar ‘back on the map’, according to UK marketing head Philippe Rondepierre.

Video: Spar’s latest TV ad campaign

Speaking to Marketing Week, he admits that customer impressions of value at Spar have not “been as good as they could be” but says the retailer is hoping to turn that around with tactical pricing campaigns that promote the offers and deals it has in store. Figures from YouGov’s Brand Index show Spar sitting at the bottom of a list of 25 supermarkets in terms of “Value” with a score of -7.7.

“In a competitive market we need to make shoppers realise we do provide value. We need to make people realise that we have special offers and that we run price-driven initiatives that make local shopping good. We need to communicate that message more,” he adds.

The convenience store chain returned to TV advertising for the first time in five years in October, running a series of spots promoting deals including 2 bottles of wine for £7 and buy one get one free on snacks.

The company claims the ads led to a 4 per cent increase in basket spend and reversed a negative trend in footfall. Spar adds that product ranges that featured in the ads saw a particularly strong sales increase, with the Italian range shown in ads in October seeing sales double compared to the year before.

“This is about amplifying our offer. We have not advertised on TV for 5 years and it’s helping us put Spar back on the map and to the forefront of people’s mind,” says Rondepierre.

Rondepierre says the firm plans to continue its focus on tactical price activity this year, as well as adding a “stronger brand element” to its campaigns. For its next financial year, which begins in May, Rondepierre says Spar has upped its campaign budget and will increase its media spend by 22 per cent.

Spar has also started using social media to communicate with customers, launching Facebook and Twitter accounts in November. Rondepierre says the retailer is working to build up its followers on social media sites by running competitions targeted at its key audience – females aged 20 to 44.

He adds that the plan now is to start interacting with shoppers more directly. He says the retailer has a growing database of shoppers that it is communicating with via email newsletters, which have a clickthrough rate of 6.1 per cent, ahead of the industry average 2.5 per cent.

Rondepierre says Spar is also investigating further marketing opportunities to increase brand awareness and help boost its market share in an increasingly “dog eat dog” market. He claims the retailer’s sponsorship of TV show Lorraine “delivered very well” and Spar is considering similar chances to promote the brand, as well as looking at how it can deliver against key events such as the World Cup.

The retailer is also investigating ways to drive up loyalty. However, Rondepierre rules out Spar launching a loyalty scheme similar to Tesco’s Clubcard or Sainsbury’s Nectar programme.

“We will not follow the lead of some of the other major retailers and put out a card that will join another 5 or 6 cards in shoppers’ wallets. There is a realisation in the loyalty card sector that when people have more than one they aren’t really driving loyalty. We have to work tactically on initiatives that will together contribute to increased loyalty and bring new shoppers into stores,” he says.

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