PR Tips // Aug 11, 2011 BY simon

Engaging consumers?

Some might argue that consumers can be anything but engaging, but it is (rightly) the way of the world now that brands and businesses have the ambition to get closer to their customers.

In some instances this was, and still is, to deliver long-term loyalty but when consumers are ever more promiscuous, if loyalty cannot be delivered then at least the brand experience can be enhanced with the right approach.

A current example of this that I think is impressive – and not just because they asked me to be an ‘expert’ judge – is the Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt.

Through their nectar card data they invited customers who had bought bottled beers to become a taste panel at regional events around the UK. Their task – and this is key – was to help determine which new beers deserved to be listed at Sainsbury’s.

The process has, to date, delivered four winners from four regional events. So 16 beers get a limited national listing before being reduced to eight beers in a final eliminator to deliver two ultimate winners that will both receive a six-month listing.

A great idea, well executed (well done Richard, Ollie and the others involved).

Why I particularly like this activity – apart from having the chance to taste some great beers – is:

  • It tells customers that Sainsburys is a business committed to promoting new beers from producers local to them
  • It tells the same consumers that it trusts them to help decide what appears on the beer fixture – a genuine statement of ‘tell us what you like and we will respond’
  • It builds interest in the bottled beer category (in growth unlike other parts of the beer fixture) and with the quality of the beers submitted it will undoubtedly mean that the ‘winners’ will add interest to Sainsbury’s bottled beer line-up, and
  • Provided they get the in-store communication right they already have an audience of consumers that might want to buy something ‘new’ when they see it on the shelf even if it was not one they voted for, because they know they were part of the process that got it there
  • Hence in terms of engagement, I feel good about being asked what I think by an organisation that has convinced me it will respond.

Not rocket science, but it didn’t need to – like I say, a great idea, well executed.

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