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Small Details Have Big Brand Implications

People entrust grocers with their health and well-being. Details like expiry dates, pricing mistakes, and product details may seem small but will have enlarged brand implications.

Introduction – Brand Implication

What is Brand Implication?
The brand implication is a term used to determine the overall impact of the use of words or actions by a brand on consumers. The resulting consequences could be emotional, reputational, and financial.

Small mistakes can have big brand implications (Source: Retail Mashup)

In the case of grocers where the customer relationship is built on trust and safety. Small mistakes can lead to complete mistrust, customer exit, and in some serious cases, possible lawsuits.

Consumer Health & Safety Index on Grocers

Research has shown that consumers will seize to shop at a grocer that does not place health and safety as a top priority. “The ability to deliver on health and safety efforts is now the most important aspect of the customer experience, and it will be for some time,” asserted Nick Mercurio, EVP and service line head of U.S. channel performance at Ipsos, whose North American headquarters is in New York.

“We found that 62% of shoppers would stop shopping at a retailer not taking health and safety seriously. Ensuring protections are in place to keep consumers safe, healthy and loyal in the 6-foot economy is the primary driver that inspired our inaugural ‘Consumer Health & Safety’ index.”

Do you trust your local grocers with your health and safety? There are big brand implications when grocers do not deliver on health and safety.

Some of the key findings from the Consumer Health & Safety Index are summarized as detailed by Progressive Grocer.

Employees in 25% of the stores visited wore face coverings improperly or not at all.

Employees in 51% of stores visited weren’t wearing gloves.

77% of the stores visited didn’t provide any hand sanitizing or handwashing solution at the entrance.

82% of the stores visited didn’t provide any hand sanitizing or handwashing solution at checkout.

64% of the stores visited had no staff actively cleaning interior high-traffic areas such as carts/baskets, counters, credit card readers, doors, and demos.

58% of the stores visited weren’t seen to be managing the number of customers entering.

While many of these statistics were collected in 2020, they are continually relevant as consumers care about health and safety.

Case Study 1 – Packaging Mistake

Can you spot the problem with the packaging below (Is it beef or lamb and why is the sell-by date two months after the best-before date)? Labeling mistakes like this can seem minor. Retailers may think customers can tell the difference between lamb and beef, but many cannot. At worst the customer goes home with the wrong product, may have an allergic reaction to the meat, or buy the package almost two months after the best-before date. At best shoppers think the store does not manage details well, which doesn’t give confidence in buying food.

Either way, a simple mistake can lead to these brand implications:
– Emotional – Customers may feel betrayed by the meat they purchased. What if they wanted beef but got lamb instead? Also, lamb likely carries a higher price.
– Reputational – Customers may leave bad reviews of the store for inaccurate labeling. They may also amplify their negative experience through word of mouth. At worst, the media may be consulted.
– Financial – If customers cannot trust a grocer to label meat properly, they wouldn’t go back to the store. This leads to reduced visits to the grocer and lost revenue. These losses can be compounded through repeat negative reviews.

Product details – Is this beef or lamb? The wrong information can have health issues that lead to big brand implications. (Source: DeAnn Campbell)

Most grocers have built good quality checks into their supply chain, but this typically means checking the food, not the packaging. Potential language issues with workers from other countries as they unload boxes or stock shelves only compound errors like this. This is one instance where a simple artificial intelligence (AI) scan could quickly solve for errors on labels, missing prices, or conflicting verbiage — like whether this is lamb or beef.

Case Study 2 – Open Shelves

I know grocery retailers’ hands are already full, but here’s a pet peeve of mine. If noticeably significant percentages of your displays or coolers are empty for more than a day, then put up a sign letting shoppers know what is happening. Something that may appear minor to a retailer is not to the shopper. It can damage a retailer’s reputation to see an almost entirely empty aisle of cooler shelves for an extended period of time (I could not fit the whole length of empty shelves in this pic).

Coolers with empty shelves – What does it say about the grocer? Brand implications on low stocks over time can be reduced traffic, bad reviews, and reduced sales. (Source: DeAnn Campbell)

I took this image on a Friday morning and it was still empty Monday morning. At best, open shelves convey the store is not on top of the stock. At worst it makes the whole store feel like business is failing, prompting customers to think about where else they might want to shop and coloring their perception of overall product quality.

Brand Implications:
– Emotional – Why drive all the way to a grocer just to see empty shelves? This is especially bad for customers looking for ice cream on a hot summer day.
– Reputational – Customers will tell others that the goods expected to see are not available. This will hurt the grocer’s reputation in delivering their product and service promises.
– Financial – Customers will not go back to a store that does not have the right product mix especially if alternative options are available at similar price points.

The store manager told me these coolers were being emptied for maintenance. Putting up a well-designed “maintenance in progress” sign is not only something shoppers would understand, but it would also offer reassurance that the store was taking care of business. 

Grocers build customer relationships based on their ability to stock food and products at a specific quality. Since health and safety are on the line, small details and mistakes can be magnified which can have big brand implications.

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