Channels & Media

As discussed in the media objectives, Loose will focus on social media marketing (and search engine marketing where applicable), using content creation and promoting key posts on Facebook and Instagram throughout its first year. This will help build greater brand awareness and foster a strong sense of community that is one of the key post-purchase contact points. Here, customers will be able to become advocates and encourage each other to continue trying to go zero-waste, instead of Loose always having to lead the way.

In-store displays will be important to help customers learn how zero-waste shopping works and what the process is – for example, get a jar from the counter if you haven’t brought your own, fill up with your chosen goods, come to the counter to get it weighed and then go to check out. This will contribute to making the customer’s purchase experience easy, as well as helping deliver on the brand promise of making zero-waste shopping easy. Along with info posters, the displays can also include featured products that are new or on promotion to increase customer knowledge of what Loose stocks.

After the in-store experience has been optimized, Loose should look to how the point of sale can help build the brand. Through personal selling by staff and at the point of sale, staff members will be able to encourage customers to sign up to the loyalty programme by discussing the discounts they’ll qualify for on it. One of the brand’s objectives is to build customer loyalty during the first year by signing 1 000 customers up to this loyalty programme, and this will also encourage repeat purchases from customers who want to qualify for continued discounts.

Another channel through which Loose can encourage customer retention is through direct email marketing. This once again speaks to their method of not creating any waste with their communication channels, as there is no physical tool. Creating an email list that is mailed regularly with new products and zero-waste tips will mean Loose can continue to deliver value to customers even when they are not purchasing from the store (and ideally compel them to come into the store to make further purchases).

To encourage conversation around the store and the brand, Loose should look at using a long-term public relations campaign to encourage word-of-mouth sharing and online reviews. Research showed that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend (Anderson, 2013), and similarly that the younger side of the target audience, the Millennial generation is unlikely to buy “almost anything” without input or reviews from other consumers (Bazaar Voice, 2012). PR placements can be done in zero-waste formats that include radio, op-ed placement on blogs, and some lifestyle TV shows. Thus, continued public relations will keep increasing brand awareness and bringing more customers in, thereby helping to achieve the objective of reaching 5% local consumer goods market penetration. The public relations push would also use alternative media ideas like installations in the shopping centre that show how many plastic shopping bags Loose has saved people from using, as well as having kiosks at farmers’ markets in Claremont and the surrounding suburbs to widen the reach of the store and increase awareness of it.

While search engine marketing and the PR campaign are important, it is recommended that they be focused on during the first six months of the launch campaign to build a critical mass of consumer awareness. At the end of June 2018, it can be assessed whether these two channels need to be continued.

Figure 4: Channel timeline for the first year of the Loose store’s media tools.

Opportunities and challenges for the strategy

Given the analysis of Loose’s business and market context, there are some communications and logistical opportunities that could help enhance the effectiveness of the campaign and its message, as well as some that could challenge it. It is important to identify these factors to contextualize the communications.

As Loose is a new store and doesn’t have an audience or customer base yet, there’s great potential in the formation of partnerships with entities that have shared values and an audience to draw on, like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), or other organisations which could pledge their support for the store and encourage their supporters to frequent it. Similarly, ‘partnering’ with customers and online followers for content is another opportunity. This would happen when fans of the store create earned media for the brand through online reviews and tagged photos, for example.

Being such a new store also presents an opportunity for the communications campaign because if it’s monitored closely and new target audiences or media arise, or the market environment changes quickly, Loose will be able to pivot its message and communications relatively easily as it is still small.

On the logistics and possible challenges, keeping its communications zero-waste will be a challenge for the campaign and could limit opportunities somewhat (although conversely could encourage innovative thinking too).

The chosen channels will also need some preparation before the launch of the campaign and the opening of the store: the technology for the loyalty discount scheme will need to be set up and installed on the shop’s computers, and the in-store media and point of sale displays will need to be designed in line with Loose’s brand identity and printed. The public relations campaign will also need strong community management and media relations skills to make it work.

The digital marketing channels and community-building tools that this strategy relies on, while very popular at the moment, are changing too fast to plan very far in advance, so this strategy should be reviewed regularly and in December 2018, the direction and objectives should be reevaluated as to whether they are still serving the brand.