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Why “giving back” is a win-win for grocers and the communities they serve

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20 Apr 2021

A grocery store is intrinsically linked to the community it serves. During the pandemic, many retailers have been doing incredible work to support those who shop there.

Claudia Pickholz, Head of Country Spain

The year of “Social Business”

In the past few months, we’ve all seen reports on how society has become more socially conscious after the COVID crisis. Fear, uncertainty, and a reality that hit the entire planet with no exception increased our sense of union.

In Spain, this was particularly reflected in a surge of empathy towards small businesses and the self-employed. According to OMD’s report, The Future of Spain, published early this year, 62% of the Spanish population prefer to shop at locally owned businesses and 59% state they will support neighbourhood shops more.

As society is more empathetic, it has also become more demanding, especially when it comes to purchase decisions. In fact, 63% of the Spanish population think brands should help people connect with each other and make them feel part of a community, and 73% say advertisers must tailor their messaging to the current situation. Collaboration, care, respect and humanity are some of the values people expect from brand’s actions and messaging.

Social impact in business in 2021 gains importance, and food retail is no exception

When it comes to business performance, there is no doubt that 2020 was the year of food retail. The industry beat sales records last year as a result of the pandemic because restriction of out of home activities caused purchases in food retail channels to skyrocket. With the majority of consumers spending most of their time at home, making sure they kept their pantries full, retail sector turnover grew 6,4%, according to Nielsen.

These results were not easily achieved. During the hardest months of the pandemic, grocery stores had to respond quickly to pressing situations and constant changes, making sure the basics were available to the population while taking the necessary safety measures for both customers and staff. In Spain, healthcare workers and food retail staff were the two professions people felt most empathetic with.

However, while shoppers are thankful for the efforts made by supermarkets to keep their stores open, fully stocked, and safe to visit, they are also aware of how grocers have profited during the pandemic. Therefore, now that the harshest restrictions of the pandemic are starting to give way as we slowly transition back to our normal lives, food retailers should maintain their commitment to their customers by giving back to the communities they serve.

Community campaigns: the best way to give back

When a retailer recognizes the importance of serving the needs of the consumer beyond price, such as making their life easier or championing their shared values, it is able to create an emotional bond that is more solid and lasting than a purely transactional one, such as price. This bond helps generate what is known as Return on Emotion (ROE), which translates into much deeper loyalty and thereby a more sustainable increase in sales.

In post-pandemic times, when consumers expect more but also want to give more to those in need, new opportunities will emerge for brands to generate Return on Emotion (ROE).  Community campaigns represent one of the most impactful ways to do this, as they enable retailers to give back to the communities they serve, engaging their shoppers in a shared purpose.

Community campaigns help support local public service organizations that matter to shoppers and their families, such as schools, sports clubs, or health clinics, while at the same time rewarding the shoppers themselves.  Through their purchases, shoppers can collect vouchers that can be redeemed for both useful personal rewards, as well as for much needed equipment for these local service organizations, which they cannot otherwise afford. The “feelgood effect” of participating in one of these campaigns is an emotional reward for shoppers and a driver of sales and positive brand associations for the retailers. This in turn helps them be perceived as responsible corporate citizens beyond CSR, bringing them closer to their customers and making their good actions more visible.

Doing good is compatible with doing business

Retailers that have partnered with tcc in creating community campaigns over the past few years, especially in Italy and Germany, have demonstrated that doing good is compatible with doing business, and that shoppers are more likely to participate in loyalty campaigns if they can benefit others in addition to themselves.

In times when consumers’ expectations have risen and brands need to elicit trust, those retailers that expand the impact of their actions beyond their shoppers and into the communities in which they operate will be better perceived and thereby generate greater loyalty. And if by doing so they engage their shoppers, allowing them to act as co-participants of these initiatives, it is a win-win for retailers, consumers, and citizens alike.

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