Friday, October 10, 2008

'The Promotional Pundit': Keeping the Marketing and Promotional Eye On the Ball; Fixing A Promotional Fiasco Fresh & Easy Isn't Even Aware Of

On September 6 we wrote and published this brief report about a new promotional experiment Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market was trying. That new promotional experiment was the offering of an online coupon good for $1-off purchases of $10 or more at Fresh & Easy grocery stores.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market marketing director Simon Uwins announced the offering in a brief September, 25, 2008 post on his Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market corporate marketing Blog.

Below is that September 25 post on the Fresh & Easy Web site Blog:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Online Coupon at Fresh & Easy
We have noticed a number of requests for an online coupon. So, we’re giving it a try… Check it out and let us know what you think…

When you click the linked words "Check it out": it takes you to a page on the company Web site where the online coupon is...Well, was.

Below was the promotional message that was on the linked Web site page along with the online coupon from September 25-28:

So far so good...right?

As we wrote about in our September 26 piece, since Fresh & Easy only promoted the coupon on the Blog it looked to us like an experiment, which we are all for from a marketing and promotional standpoint.

Additionally, the coupon had a very short shelf life, which is another indication of its experimental nature. The $1-off online coupon expired on September 28, three days after the September 25 Blog post by Mr. Uwins -- and a full two weeks ago.

However, there hasn't been a new post made on the Fresh & Easy corporate marketing Blog since that September 25 post over two weeks ago. Therefore the first post you see when you view the Fresh & Easy corporate marketing Blog is the September 25 post touting the online coupon. That's the post that reads: We have noticed a number of requests for an online coupon. So, we’re giving it a try… Check it out and let us know what you think…

And if at this very moment you happen to be one of those folks that are a part of the group making "a number of requests for an online coupon," or you are a consumer in general who happens to be viewing the Blog and wants an online coupon to take with you shopping to a Fresh & Easy store in order to save a buck -- and you click the "Check it out" link -- you're going to be an unhappy consumer.


Because even though the very first and the most recent post you see on the Fresh & Easy corporate marketing Blog is the one touting the online coupon, when you click the "Check it Out link," below is the message you get instead of the $1-off coupon you are looking forward to downloading:

The Promotional Pundit calls this "taking the eye off the ball marketing." By this P.P means a failure to follow through properly with a marketing or promotional campaign, even if it is "experimental." In fact, if it is experimental, following through is at least equally and possibly even more important.

And without follow through, not only is the experiment a failure, it can also damage a food retailer's overall image.

In this particular case consumers in general (and existing Fresh & Easy customers) are essentially being teased. They go to the Fresh & Easy corporate marketing Blog, read the most recent post, click on the "Check it out" link to view and most probably download the coupon, only to be told it has expired. Thanks for taking your time to "Check it out." But no thanks.

Wouldn't your response to having gone through this process only to be denied what was promised (the $1-off coupon) in the promotional proposition be: "Thanks for wasting my time Fresh & Easy?

Marketing and promotional activities, including experiments, are intended to not only generate some incremental sales (such as in the case of the $1-off online coupon) but also to fit into the whole of a retailer's marketing strategy. The chief incremental (along with more sales) as well as medium and long term goal being to build goodwill, build brand, and thus increase, maintain and create loyal customers.

And, as in medicine, the chief marketing and promotional credo for marketers should be: "Above all do no harm."

By taking its eye off the marketing and promotional ball and not following through on its online coupon experiment, Fresh & Easy is committing just that marketing mistake. It's disappointing and likely turning off consumers who go to the Blog, read the brief post, click on the link, and look forward to downloading the $1-off coupon. It's also doing harm to the Fresh & Easy brand, which is still yet to be built. All that translates into sales (or lost sales), in case you were wondering if the Promotional Pundit would mention that important part of the overall equation.

There's a very simple solution to this problem. In fact it's a "two click" solution. And that solution (the follow through) should have been implemented the very day the coupon expired, September 28.

On the very day the coupon expired, Mr. Uwins or one of his staff should have simply deleted the September 25 post about the online coupon. Following that, they should then have deleted the page on the Web site where the expired online coupon was located.

By simply following through and deleting the September 25 post and the coupon link page, on September 28, Fresh & Easy could have avoided the as yet unanswered comments offered by consumers numbers 4, 5 and 6 on the Blog post, which we reproduce from the Fresh & Easy corporate Blog in full below:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Online Coupon at Fresh & Easy

We have noticed a number of requests for an online coupon. So, we’re giving it a try… Check it out and let us know what you think…

posted by Simon Uwins @ 4:58 PM


1. At September 28, 2008 2:48 PM , Dick said...
Why don't you sell gift cards?

2. At September 28, 2008 5:19 PM , Anonymous said...
Will you please open some stores in Canada? Thank you,Trent

3. At September 28, 2008 11:09 PM , San Diego Fan said...
gift cards would definitely be great! I'd happily give them as presents, I love your store and it'd be a great way to introduce my friends to it as well.

4. At October 1, 2008 11:27 PM , Jeff said...
Thx for listening! It says the coupon is expired, though. :)

5. At October 3, 2008 8:39 PM , Anonymous said...
why aren't there any more coupons given at the stores? and where are the online coupons?

6. At October 6, 2008 12:59 PM , Anonymous said...
i'm ready for the coupons!

The first commentor out of the three (of a total 6 comments) above who address the missing coupon issue is Jeff, who is number 4 above. Jeff is obviously unhappy about not being able to get the $1-off online coupon the Blog post promises him, even though he is smiling.

Number 5 asks plainly: "Where are the online coupons?" The answer is: it expired on September 28, days before your October 3 post. Since the commentor asked where the coupons are a week ago and still hasn't received an answer on the Fresh & Easy corporate Blog, we can imagine he or she isn't a happy Tesco Fresh & Easy shopper either.

Number 6 obviously clicked the link and instead of getting the promised coupon got the "coupon has expired" message too. He or she takes a bit more proactive approach to his disappointment over being teased saying..."I'm ready for the coupons."

Since we see no response from the publisher or marketing team of the Fresh & Easy corporate marketing Blog to Number 6's obvious state of displeasure over having taken the time to attempt to download a coupon but instead getting a "sorry expired" message, something tells us he or she isn't out amongst the masses spreading the cheer for Fresh & Easy either. The Promotional Pundit is a big fan of positive word of mouth marketing by the way. On the other hand P.P. hates negative word of mouth.


The best laid plans of mice and men (and woman too) can often go south. However, when it comes to marketing and promotion: "The meek may inherit the earth...but they won't create market share."

The Promotional Pundit suggests the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market marketing team not be meek. Rather they should delete the September 25 post right away, along with the link telling people the coupon has expired. That's no way to entice potential and existing customers.

The jobs still not done yet though.

Once the "two click" deletions are completed, it's time to make up for taking the marketing and promotional eye off the ball.

How to do that?

Quickly create a $1-off coupon. Give it an about three week expiration date, say to October 31, 2008. Then replace the just deleted September 25 post (including the "Check it out link" to the new coupon) with a new one. On that new post announcing the new, three week online coupon, make it clear the coupon expires on October 31 And, very important: On the early morning of October 31 delete that post and the coupon.

While not completely undoing the mistake, doing this gives the consumers who were disappointed -- not just the three who commented about it but the many more who wouldn't comment because doing so is the exception not the norm -- a chance to get their coupon.

After all, they are doing what Fresh & Easy wants them to do. They didn't take their eyes off the marketing and promotional ball. There's no mention on the September 25 regarding when the coupon expires. The consumer only finds that out when she takes her busy time to click the "Check it out" link, only to discover she can't get what she is promised in the post. In other words, she is set up with a marketing and promotional proposition. She goes for it. Then is told while in near mid-mouse click by the marketer the proposition has been cancelled.

Fixing the problem as the Promotional Pundit suggests also is a good way to show a lack of meekness; that Fresh & Easy could care less about inheriting the earth -- but does care about increasing market share, even in little ways. The Devil is in the details, after all.


Anonymous said...

they are actually going to release a new online coupon very soon for a higher value than the previous one! And it will be active for a longer time also... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Looks like there are some more people still looking for the coupons. Here are some additional posts to Fresh & Easy's corporate blog:

Hydeman family said...
We shopped almost every other day at the F&E stores in our neighborhood, but since the exit of store coupons, and the unavailable online coupons, it has been a month since we have been back. We love F&E but are also on a super tight budget...since you don't honor other coupons, we are at a loss! Please make the online coupons available or bring back store coupons. Thanks for listening, take care.
~Jenn Hydeman - Arizona

October 7, 2008 9:27 PM


October 8, 2008 8:29 PM

Amy Lamare said...
Hi Simon,
Great to meet you at 10 N Eastern yesterday. :)

I've posted a few things on the Temple, more to come after my vacation!

October 10, 2008 1:14 AM

Anonymous said...
I agree with many here, on-line coupons would be nice, especially updated so they are not expired. And did I read right??? No more coupons given at the store????? Nooooooo!!!!!!! Please bring them back, please, please, please :)

October 10, 2008 11:16 AM

Romeo said...
When will the coupons be online and not expired?

October 12, 2008 3:39 AM