Humans are strange, simple and irrational creatures, as evidenced by the huge excitement generated by New World’s Little Shop promotion. And while this miniature fervour obviously worked in Foodstuffs' favour, it also worked for the brands involved in the promotion.
The campaign ran from August until late October as part of New World’s 50th anniversary celebration and customers who spent more than $40 in a New World store received one of 44 free mini grocery items, which were recreated in detail down to the nutritional information (each of the brands involved had to pay for the privilege to have category exclusivity).
The collectables concept was launched after Foodstuffs met with a Dutch toy design studio that had ran a similar campaign for a Dutch supermarket chain. It also worked closely with .99 to develop the Little Shop identity, including the look and feel, in store presence and the advertising and promotional plan. And the popularity of the retail promotion led to swaps at stores, schools and offices across the country, with many New World stores setting up permanent swap desks to assist customers wanting to trade items with other customers and more than a few trading hubs set up online.
“The promotion was a first for our supermarkets and in many ways a first for New Zealand," says Foodstuffs NZ group general manager marketing Steve Bayliss. "People of all ages were gripped by Little Shop fever. We heard of customers driving from one side of Auckland to another to hunt out their last few collectables. We were contacted by schools wanting sets of collectables to use as part of their curriculum and a psychologist wanted a set to assist kids with eating disorders. Businesses set up their own swaps for staff and Trade Me was a flurry with collectables being traded for hundreds of dollars. We’re aware overseas companies have since monitored our success with the intention of replicating it in other markets, which is flattering. We also know that our promotion was more successful than the original campaign in Holland, which is in itself an amazing achievement.”
Bayliss says it hasn't ruled out running the promotion again in another format (while Little Shop was partially about attracting the kids and harnessing pester power, we reckon the adult range has got legs).
"We’d have to add new twists to the promotion to capture the imagination of our suppliers, stores and customers to surpass that reached by Little Shop but we are more than up for that challenge. Christmas is of course one of our busiest retail periods so we’ll be picking up the mantle in the New Year.”
As for the brands, Energizer, Purina and Fonterra Brands all sung the promotion's praises in a release.
“We were the only general merchandise supplier as all the other products were groceries and we were really impressed that you could even scan the barcode," says Energizer's national key account manager Stephanie Hyndman. "We thought it would be popular but it definitely exceeded expectations and sales of our products proved this with an increase across the entire range.”
Purina had its Tux dog food and Fancy Feast cat food shrunken and head of marketing Jennifer Chappel says the value in having its miniature products in so many Kiwi households "cannot be underestimated".
"The promotion resonated strongly with our pet consumers, many of whom have young families, and the positive feedback via our website and pet care line was overwhelming. It was great for brand awareness and we received a lovely email from one consumer, for example, saying her young daughter made her switch brands to Tux on a shopping trip as it was part of Little Shop and it was the only brand they were to buy from now on,” she says.
Fonterra Brands New Zealand had Fresh 'n Fruity, Tip Top, Anchor and Mainland products available. And it also launched the Little Fridge phone application, created by Belowtheline and Satellite Media, as part of the promotion.
“Little Shop started a great shopping experience and we wanted to continue this for customers," says group category manager Carl MacInnes. "The app had the ability to bring New World’s Little Shop promotion to life on shoppers’ smart phones with the featured products taking on a life of their own."