The big UK supermarkets are increasingly under attack for pressuring their suppliers and destroying the traditional British ‘high street’. But, for the bulk of UK consumers value, choice and convenience remain the most important selection criteria for their choice of food retailer. As supermarkets expand (because they address these criteria better than many of the alternatives) they are likely to feel the backlash more, particularly as they grow their high street presence with the rising ‘convenience format’, (stores that are smaller than average and retail a selection of key ranges). For example, in September 2009 Waitrose announced plans to increase its numbers of convenience stores to 300 over the next 10 years after successful trials of the format. Given this expansion Waitrose will surely increasingly feel a backlash from consumers?
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Perhaps not, Waitrose recognizes the importance of engaging with local communities. Waitrose has always donated a proportion of its profits to charities but its challenge has often been in having consumers value this philanthropy. Its Community Matters scheme, launched in 2008, tackles this challenge in a smart way. The scheme gives each branch £1,000 to share out between three local good causes each month. Customers vote for their preferred cause using a green token they receive every time they shop and the money donated to each cause is directly proportional to the tokens they receive. I’m always amazed at the time consumers spend to choose the charity they will give their token to – surely a reflection of how engaged they are versus traditional approaches.
- Involving consumers in decisions to increase their engagement?
- Making strategic decisions around what type of social impact will be most valued for your business, e.g. local or global?
here’s the collection box in my local Waitrose – I’m always intrigued to see which charities shoppers prefer… I also wonder if people tend to default to other shoppers’ choices (and fill the most full section) or try to support the underdog…