Countdown brings out its trusty tool for luring NZ consumers: tableware

Discounted bread aside, the store wars between New Zealand’s biggest supermarket companies, Foodstuffs and Progressive, still rage. While New World comes back for round two of Little Shop, Countdown’s tactic is not to fight like-with-like (there’s no round two of its Dreamworks Heroes 3D collectable cards), but instead offer something tried and true: tableware.

In the Jamie At Your Table promotion for Jamie Oliver dinnerware, customers get one stamp for every $20 they spend, and once they have five they can buy a piece of Jamie Oliver dinnerware at half price. So, it’s not free, but it’s something.

In a release, Countdown’s general manager for marketing Bridget Lamont says the dinnerware range is exclusive in New Zealand to Countdown (although it seems you can also get it at Briscoes), and “is the perfect addition to Kiwi kitchens for everyday use or dinner parties”. A Countdown spokeswoman says “Countdown’s Jamie Oliver dinnerware promotion is proving really popular with our customers already. It’s part of our ongoing focus to add value to our customers’ experience in store and reward them for shopping with us.” Launched August 16, it will run until November 30.

Countdown knows from experience that these tableware promotions do pull the punters. The Countdown spokeswoman says that Countdown’s stamp collection programmes have seen more than 2.7 million knives, glasses and cutlery collected by customers over the last few years. In the knife campaign alone, 700,000 free Thomas Knives were given out, with a further 200,000 knives purchased using a mix of stamps and part-payment.

In Australia, the same campaign was launched earlier this year by Woolworths, Countdown’s parent company, amidst controversy.

Australian vegetable suppliers were upset with a 40 cent levy they say Woolworths had imposed on crates to pay for the campaign. AUSVEG, the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9000 vegetable and potato growers, wrote a letter to Jamie Oliver himself:

AUSVEG has publicly raised concerns over Woolworths’ behaviour, after many growers supplying Woolworths indicated they would struggle to find the requested 40 cents-per-crate of produce supplied, a contribution that can mean foregoing between 30-50 percent of the grower’s margin. … The additional levy is on top of a ‘marketing’ contribution of between 2.5-5 percent, which growers already pay Woolworths. For many, the additional contributions amount to tens-of-thousands, if not hundreds-of-thousands of extra dollars – a significant amount of money for anybody, let alone vegetable growers operating on wafer-thin margins.

It seems Jamie Oliver, however, couldn’t do much about it.

The Woolworths reply at the time was defensive: it said the levy was voluntary and half its suppliers had opted to pay it.

A Countdown spokesperson says the NZ dinnerware promotion is different to and independent of the Woolworths relationship with Jamie Oliver.  “There is no “levy” involved in our promotion.”

Incidentally competitor Foodstuffs was going to introduce a 3 percent levy last year to suppliers, to cover the cost of advertising and marketing both in-store and by mail promotional efforts, but suppliers objected and Foodstuffs backed down in order for more consultation.

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