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Harnessing the power of the search engine for ‘swing shoppers’

With 30 million people searching online for grocery items per month, PAK‘nSAVE and PHD NZ realised that Google search presented a strong opportunity to be competitive.

Based on a brief prompted through the annual strategic challenge of winning more shops from ‘light customers’, agency PHD NZ was able to work with PAK’nSAVE to utilise this opportunity and picked up a silver in the Retail/Etail category at the 2022 Beacon Awards for ‘Showing up in shopping’.

To do this, PHD NZ first investigated the opportunities presented through Google search and Google Shopping.

To participate in the Google Shopping platform, retailers must have the necessary processes and communications set up between different platforms as well as offering delivery and fixed product pricing.

“Unfortunately PAK’nSAVE couldn’t take part in this critical moment as we didn’t have the technical infrastructure to do it,” says Katia Ducker, Performance Strategist at PHD NZ.

“By not having this infrastructure, we were only limited to text ads, which has a lower impact on these type of search.”

Realising these online searches were crucial competitive moments where shoppers made active decisions about where to shop and what to buy, PHD NZ decided to take action and get noticed where it mattered.

The ‘always on’ campaign revolved around Google Shopping and aimed to convert customer interest into a shop – no matter if it was online or instore.

“If we were able to show up and be competitive in this space, that would be a lot of ‘swing shoppers’ we would be able to nudge in PAK’nSAVE’s direction,” Ducker says.

One of the biggest challenges the teams faced in this area was PAK’nSAVE’s store level pricing.

“PAK’nSAVE has a different price depending on the store for the same product. So the feed needed to have a line with the specifications of each product in each store to make sure we were displaying the correct price.”

With these searches representing roughly six shops per person, or many more if they are the primary household shopper, PHD and PAK’nSAVE realised the scale and possibilities of a move such as this.

This project ensured that if a shopper typed a product such as Almond Butter into Google, PAK’nSAVE’s product with a competitive price would appear at the top of the search alongside competing stores.

As for what made it stand out in the Beacon Awards, Ducker believes it was the practical, matter-of-fact nature of the work.

“This isn’t a search campaign utilising wacky tactics with no scale. This stream of work is actively driving thousands of incremental store visits weekly to PAK’nSAVE with concrete evidence to support. It allows PAK’nSAVE to demonstrably prove their price promise in a competitive context and drive business results,” she says. 

Up until this point, there had been the assumption that PAK’nSAVE could not take part in shopping due to its store level pricing and the fact that delivery is not an option (both requirements for standard shopping).

“We were determined to find a way to make it work, and we did. It’s fantastic it’s delivering well above and beyond the results we anticipated,” says Ducker.

Ducker says seeing it live was the most exciting part of the campaign for her and the team.

The build of the feeds, website adjustments and surrounding processes took around eight months of work, so finally seeing it go live with few hiccups was so worth it. A little terrifying but also exciting!”

As for being recognised at the Beacon Awards, Ducker says it speaks volumes to see specialist solutions recognised in broader categories such as Etail/Retail. 

“It means it’s not just a great use of the medium, but just good work.”

From PAK’nSAVE’s perspective, Jamie Hodgetts, Head of Foodstuff’s Marketing and CX says the campaign is a great example of an excellent partnership with PHD.

“They are both technically and commercially savvy and are always looking at strategic ways for PAK’nSAVE to exploit media and technology to help us achieve disproportionate cut through.”

Although execution of this idea took eight months due to many technical hurdles, Hodgetts says the collaborative work between PHD and PAK’nSAVE illustrated how combined the vision was and came to fruition in the campaign’s success.

If you would like to hear more on this subject make sure to get your ticket for the Future of Retail Marketing conference which will include a talk on ‘Winning customers in the moments that matter’. 

This keynote address will be given by Dominic Quin, General Manager – Marketing and CX Strategy at Foodstuffs Group and his agency partners. They will speak to the role of emotion in the path to purchase, and how this is applied to the New World model in both comms and media approach.

Visit nzmarketingmag.co.nz/the-future-of-retail-marketing-conference/ to purchase your ticket today.

About Author

Ayla Miller is a Feature Writer/Sub-editor for SCG Media Business titles, NZ Marketing, StopPress, Idealog and The Register.