We’ve all been there. Lured in by big budget supermarket TV ads that serve up large helpings of fantastically photo-shopped food. But the reality of what greets us in store is very different. Price promotions and deals from shelf to shelf.

So why are retailers selling us short when it comes to satisfying our desire to connect on an emotional level? Of course trading is of greater importance but driving everything on a platform of promotion could mean retailers are missing an opportunity to build a much stronger affinity around the food we love.

According to Havard Business Review research ‘The most effective way to maximise customer value is to move beyond customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level’ The research goes on to say ‘Emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. Emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often and exhibit less price sensitivity. They pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more.’ (1) Basically, everything you’d want a brand advocate to do.

If recent TV campaigns are anything to go by, it seems many supermarket giants are beginning to recognise the value of ‘emotionally satisfied’ customers. In fact, Sainsburys’ current #fooddancing video features a diverse cast of real people joyfully dancing in their kitchen whilst cooking. Waitrose also promise to be a brand that’s all about the food we love with their new ‘Everything we do goes into everything you taste’ campaign and Tesco’s ‘Love Food Stories’ have gone one step further to remind us ‘food lovers’ that Tesco suppliers share our passion. From their ‘cheese fortune tellers’ to their ‘bread perfectionists’ food love (if you take their TV ads as gospel) is all around us!

In 2013 we saw Tesco’s ‘Love Every Mouthful’ campaign take the bold step to move all fresh fruit and vegetables to the front of the store. By creating an attractive ‘market place’ environment right in the entrance of the store, Flintlock’s Director Tasha Gladman, who spearheaded the project, was able to translate Tesco’s ‘passion for food’ directly into the store setting. To continue the ‘Love Every Mouthful’ campaign powerful food imagery was used throughout the entire store and juicy, fresh fruit samples were handed to customers as they entered. From an equity point of view this activity was a game changer.

However, despite the campaign raising the bar regarding emotive shopping experiences, four years later have things really moved on? If the future of supermarket growth is to invigorate a passion and care for our food then supermarkets must put the food they sell (and we lovingly cook) first. This means transferring the passionate, spirited and stirring content we see in supermarket TV ads into store.

You could argue that once in store all we really care about is BOGOF’s and 2-4-1’s. That may be, but we are also a nation of Bake Off inspired food lovers capable of driving a £1.7bn sales spike in our quest to recreate the recipes we see on TV. (2)

Our passion for food is certainly able to boost ROI but can it actually elevate a supermarket brand and help drive loyalty? Retail Wire is convinced it can, reporting that ‘Developing emotional connections with consumers can help retailers avoid competing as much on price as well as factors such as selection or service’. (3)

Last month Morrisons, launched a nationwide campaign to recruit more local foodmakers in a bid to connect with their customers’ growing appetite for local food, proven provenance and emotional desire to buy British. This could prove a very timely move as Marketing Week highlights the need to become more emotionally connected with shoppers ‘With an uncertain climate lying ahead retailers need to make sure they do more to resonate with shoppers on a deeper level to help ensure they remain loyal. Otherwise consumers will simply go wherever is most convenient’. (4)

Another crucial part of our in store shopping experience is the staff we meet. A positive shift towards staffing stores with passionate and knowledgeable food experts could go some way to bridging the gap between glossy TV ads and the reality of in store.

Even music has a part to play in our shopping experience. Barker Retail’s 2016 report confirmed ‘Music makes people pay more attention to themselves, specifically to their preferences and attitudes, and less to product attributes such as price’. (5)

If the shopper’s in store experience continues to be a wall of price promises and promotions then that is where their ‘love food’ journey will come to an abrupt end. To buck that trend supermarkets themselves must focus on becoming as ‘lovable’ as the food we cook.

 

Sources:

(1) The most effective way to maximise customer value is to move beyond customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level. Emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. Emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often and exhibit less price sensitivity. They pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more.

Source: https://hbr.org/2016/08/an-emotional-connection-matters-more-than-customer-satisfaction

 

(2) Annual home baking sales have risen in the UK from £523m in 2009 to £1.7bn in 2014, according to market researchers Mintel.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11789116/Bake-Off-inspires-881pc-surge-in-baking-tray-sales-at-Waitrose.html

 

(3) Developing emotional connections with consumers can help retailers avoid competing as much on price as well as factors such as selection or service.

http://www.retailwire.com/discussion/do-retailers-need-to-work-on-making-more-emotional-connections/

 

(4) ‘With an uncertain climate lying ahead retailers need to make sure they do more to resonate with shoppers on a deeper level to help ensure they remain loyal. Otherwise consumers will simply go wherever is most convenient’.

https://www.marketingweek.com/2017/02/20/grocery-loyalty/

 

(5) ‘Music makes people pay more attention to themselves, specifically to their preferences and attitudes, and less to product attributes such as price’.

Source: https://bakerretail.wharton.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Emotional_Connections_in_Retailing.pdf