Speaking at an event in London today (30 May), Spar brand director Susan Darbyshire said there is still a perception in the eyes of consumers that convenience stores are more expensive but that own brand offers a chance to reassure customers that they are getting good value.
Spar has “ambitious plans” to increase its own brand proposition from 29.2 per cent of sales to 40 per cent over the next five years to move it more in line with the big supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, which are increasingly moving onto its turf.
The moves come as Darbyshire admits that in participation terms Spar is ahead of its symbol group rivals such as Londis and Premier but that it faces rising competition as “the likes of Tesco pile in”. Convenience is a big growth area in the grocery market, with IGD forecasting that sales will rise by £10bn to £46bn over the next five years.
Spar now feels it needs to up its game through improvements to the shopping experience and new store formats such as Express to take advantage of different locations including train stations and personalisation – offering both branded, own brand and locally relevant products.
“The whole high street looks the same but people don’t want that. We have local suppliers and a different look and feel to other retailers, we are a national brand supported by local products so we can offer a bespoke experience at each location,” says Darbyshire.
Spar plans to reformulate 750 of its own brand products by the end of the year and introduce a new range of Indian and Oriental prepared food in September, following the success of its Italian and “Winter Warmer” ranges. Darbyshire told Marketing Week that Spar will be putting more money into promoting its own brand ranges to customers, including a TV campaign that kicks off in August.
It has also revamped its own brand wines to offer a more “modern and contemporary” range, according to wine buyer Nick Jones. He said that as more people shop convenience they are increasingly looking for credible ranges, whether that be wine or prepared food, and that Spar is changing to reflect that.
There will also be food sampling for the first time to go along with the launch of its summer collection which it hopes will lead to a 50 per cent uptick in sales. A summer microsite set to launch next week will offer food inspiration, while Spar will be using its Facebook and Twitter accounts to promote its products directly to customers for the first time, having only launched the profiles in November last year.
It will also be adding some “fun” to shopping at Spar through a “Shop and Win” campaign that is set to launch at the end of the summer. It will offer customers the chance to win prizes when they purchase in-store through a form of till receipt.
“We want to give people a reason to shop in store more regularly and put some fun into the experience,” said Darbyshire.