July 01, 2007

Help SuperValu Grow!

SuperValu is a $37 billion dollar grocery chain, earning 2% pre-tax profit on an annual basis.

Their website is the 443,801st most visited website in the world, according to Alexa.

The MineThatData Blog is the 357,705th most visited website in the world, according to Alexa. For those of you who are interested, The MineThatData Blog generates considerably less than one billion dollars of annual revenue.

As many of you know, I like to use the first day of the month to talk about something positive. Today, I'm asking the Social Media / Marketing folks to combine forces with Database Marketers and my loyal readers to develop a social media and marketing strategy that benefits a grocer like SuperValu.

Question Number One goes to these folks (John, Mack, Ann, Mike --- get healthy!, Drew, Joseph, Paul, Harry, Becky). What kind of blogging / marketing / social media strategy would you develop to help SuperValu have a better relationship with the customers who support this grocery brand?

Question Number Two goes to the Database Marketing / Analytics folks (Avinash, Alan, Jim, Robbin, Ron, Adelino, Tamara, David, Jeff). How would you use the marketing tools you specialize in to grow online awareness for SuperValu, or, how would you measure the effectiveness of any strategy on a $37,000,000,000 store-based business?

Question Number Three goes to my readers. How would you grow online participation in a way that helps SuperValue increase retail sales?



  1. Well, I don't know. I worked in the food business for a decade, and I can tell you that it's a tough slog. more than 20 thousand new items are introduced each year. That's a ton of noise.

    However, I can tell you that not too long ago I was privileged to interview one of the top guys from Red Bull. He was telling me that Red Bull sees its mission as "providing energy to those who need it."

    RB has its markets divided into consumption occasions:

    - Sports (Natural Thrill, Airborne, etc)
    - Motorsports (2 wheel, 4 wheel, etc)
    - Culture (Creative, Music, etc.)

    See RedBull.com for details. It's pretty slick. These guys infiltrate these subcultures and market to each subculture in their own lingo, own style, etc. They become a part of the lifestyle of each subculture. They sell from the inside.

    Off the top of my head, I might suggest SuperValu build Ning-based microsites on top of the most rabid category specific domains (ie "SuperValuBaby.com"). It could then promote those blog/communities at eye-level with contests, give aways, coupons, end caps, brand co-sponsors, etc.

    The key is to do this with RABID, lifestyle categories like health, beauty, fitness, etc. (They need to roll this out with the categories supported by the most online-literate, blog savvy customers.) Next SV could get some promotional dollars from suppliers in exchange for banner ad space, etc.

    Again, I'm just making this up as I type. But grocery stores have SO much personal information on consumers that it seems like the database + community building possibilities (both online and off) would be endless.

  2. Anonymous9:55 AM

    First off, thanks for including me in your list.

    Second, I'm not sure SuperValu has any incentive to drive traffic to ITS site. Its subsidiaries -- e.g., Albertson, Jewel-Osco, Hornbachers, etc. -- each have their own sites. Why would SuperValu want to drive a consumer to its corporate site? Much more likely that it would want its customers to go the sites of the store they shop at (and fyi, according to Alexa, SuperValu companies Albertson's is ranked 43,491, while Jewel-Osco is at 3,442, so you may be overstating the awareness problem).

    But to your question, how would I measure the effectiveness of a strategy aimed at driving traffic to the website? One way would be to measure customer engagement. That is, how often does a customer come back to the site to learn about specials, print out coupons, look at their loyalty program information, etc. Ultimately, of course, the effectiveness is measured in sales and profitability per customer. But engagement can be a measure to gauge the strength of the relationship a customer has.

    Last point: It continues to amaze me that not one of the supermarket sites I looked at has functionality that lets a customer build an online shopping list that aggregates the coupons -- or better yet -- suggest alternatives that might be on sale.

  3. Thanks Harry & Ron!

    I went down this path after "enjoying" tacos on Friday night. I went to my local IGA store, they didn't have my usual Taco Bell shells, so I had to buy the store brand.

    The store brand had a link to the SuperValu website --- the text told the customer to go to the site to get recipe ideas.

    I was surprised there was a SuperValu website in the first place, given the businesses they own. So I went out to the site, then checked to see how much traffic they have, finding out that there's no measurable traffic to speak of.

    Anyway, it's a topic I can toss out there when I cannot think of a good analytical topic to share!

  4. Anonymous3:16 PM

    A bit of an echo on Ron's points: it would be an ENORMOUS aid to me if I could go to a grocery store's website, put in "Baking Soda," have it give me the EXACT aisle/shelf location, and then construct a walk-sorted list of the stuff that I am shopping for. I have spent an absolutely appalling amount of time in supermarkets looking for olives, for example, or alternatively trying to scan both sides of the aisle while holding the shopping list in the mental equivalent of RAM and the whole experience would be so much nicer if I knew that the next item on the list was Aisle 5, fourth shelf from the floor (or whatever).

  5. Anonymous8:02 AM

    Thanks for keeping the positive blog posts going, Kevin!

    The best way for SuperValu to grow is for it to really get to know its customers. When we lived in the UK, Tesco had a "club card" which gave you the discounts much like Albertsons and other stores do. They also used the information from our shopping to send us coupons that were valuable TO US. On a regular basis, the coupons were mailed out and were somewhat customized to us based on our purchases. Very cool.

    SuperValue probably already has a lot of information on its customers which it isn't using. They could use it to customize coupons, like Tesco, or to create personas and microsites like Harry recommended.

    I think the best use would be to start a dialogue with their consumer customers. Find out what they like/don't like about the stores. For example, how many Albertsons shoppers really LIKE the flat screen TVs showing commercials at each checkstand?!

    Then, as Ron suggested, create engagement based on customer needs.

    There is so much competition now with grocers. Places like Trader Joe's, Costco, and local farmer's markets are competing for my business here in San Diego. But I go to my local Vons because it is convenient. SuperValue and its stores need to figure out what customers need and how best to reach them. The web may be one place, but my guess is the human element in the stores themselves is much more important.

    Thanks for the discussion, Kevin. You rock!

  6. Thanks for commenting, Becky.

    To me, there are at least five people who represent the "soul of a grocery store" ... the person running the produce section, the butcher, the baker, the person stocking shelves, and the checkout person. Stores that have great individuals convey a very different feel than ones that don't.

    If that feel could be conveyed in a blog-style site for a grocer, it sure couldn't hurt business. It may even provide a way for those individuals, who do all the work, to be "stars".

  7. Kevin, thanks for including me on the list. This was a fun exercise. Here in a nutshell is what I was thinking. You can read the full version on my blog entry (sorry, I got carried away!).

    1.) Find a mobile way to create what Ron was imagining: a value-added shopping list

    2.) Target niches and provide content that's really worthwhile, such as a way to create an online shopping with that included nutritional information on everything you purchase (along with, perhaps, your own diet and health goals!).

    Great idea, Kevin. Even your "I don't know what else to write" posts are interesting and fun!

  8. Anonymous7:48 PM

    Hi Kevin. I think that I have forgotten my blogger id.

    On the one hand, I am sorry that it took me so long to comment, on the other, you got a lot of great ideas already. The first one I thought of was, why should they care? Their corporate site is really more for their investors than anything else. Sure, I could make lots of suggestions on how to improve it, but it is the individual sites that matter.

    Sites like that have to create a reason for visitors to want to visit them. They really don't have a good reason. All the interesting info is at the individual sites.

    And that person who suggested the grocery map? Oh, he is way ahead of the curve, I wouldn't expect so much from a store. How about just a grocery list I can go back to over and over again with pricing (like I used to with Sam's Club? When I was a Sam's Club customer, I *used* their site.)

    Robbin Steif

  9. I wrote this post because I needed taco shells. I went to our local grocery store, and they were sold out of Taco Bell taco shells. They only had their local brand --- on the back of the package, they told the customer to go to supervalu.com for recipies and other content.

    Hence, the article!


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