Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market launched its $6-off online coupon on its freshandeasy.com Web site today, as I reported yesterday in my column the grocery chain would be doing. As I reported, the coupon's value is for $6-off purchases of $30 or more in Fresh & Easy stores.
The coupon is located on the front page of the food and grocery retailer's freshandeasy.com Web site, on the left side at the very bottom of the homepage below the menu list. You can view it here. Scroll down to the bottom, left hand side of the homepage. Look closely as it is in a spot you likely wouldn't notice unless you are intentionally looking. The green color of the coupon link also tends to blend in with the page colors, making it less than easy to spot.
When you click on the coupon graphic on the homepage, it takes you to a page where the coupon is here. You click on a link and can download the coupon. Below is the promotional message at that link:
The new online coupon expires on October 19. That's one week from today.
In my column yesterday I reported the $6-off online coupon dropping today would have a three week shelf-life. That's not the case. Instead the coupon has a one week shelf-life. It expires on October 19, 2008. The Promotional Pundit can't be perfect. And, he was told by a couple good sources the original plan for the online coupon was for a three week duration.
The first Fresh & Easy online coupon, which I wrote about in my October 10 column, had a shelf-life of only four days. It came out on September 25 and expired on September 28. That online coupon had a value of only $1, good for purchases of $10 or more.
Click on the headline link to read my October 10, 2008 column here:'The Promotional Pundit': Keeping the Marketing and Promotional Eye On the Ball; Fixing A Promotional Fiasco Fresh & Easy Isn't Even Aware Of. Click on the headline link to read my column from yesterday, October 13, 2008, here: 'The Promotional Pundit:' More On the Online Coupon Fiasco: Tesco Fresh & Easy's Marketing Department to Launch A New Online Coupon Early Next Week.
In my column yesterday I suggested Tesco Fresh & Easy post today's online coupon in a easy to view place, such as on the home page of its freshandeasy.com Web site, which it has. I would suggest making the coupon advertisement a bit more easily visible than it is in its current location on the homepage though. Also a little higher-up on the page.
Fresh & Easy corporate marketing Blog
Unlike what was done with the first online coupon, their is no mention of the new $6-off online coupon on the Fresh & Easy corporate marketing Blog, which is authored and published by director of marketing Simon Uwins. That coupon was only promoted on the marketing Blog, with a mention as well on the grocer's page on Twitter.com.
However, the September 25 post announcing the first online coupon -- the $1-off purchases of $10 or more -- remains as of this evening at the top of the corporate marketing Blog. It's the one I wrote about in my first column on the topic on October 10 here and wrote about again in my column yesterday. The link on the September 25 post does now take the reader to the new $6-off coupon on the Freshandeasy.com Web site though.
There are eleven comments on that September 25 post announcing the first online coupon in the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market corporate marketing Blog. As I wrote about in yesterday's column, seven of those eleven comments are from Fresh & Easy customers unhappy about not being able to get an online coupon as the post says they can. They couldn't get it because when you click the link to the online coupon in that September 25 post it takes you to a linked page where you are told the coupon has expired. It even says "sorry."
You can read all seven of those comments in my October 13 and October 10 columns using the links above.
All of the current seven of those comments on the Fresh & Easy corporate marketing Blog still go unanswered by Mr. Uwins or any members of his marketing staff.
It appears Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market isn't concerned about seven unhappy customers, assuming they have remained customers after their respective experiences with the first online coupon fiasco, which continues because the September 25 post remains up and the commentors'/consumers' questions remain without a response from Fresh & Easy. At least one of the commentors says she won't be shopping at Fresh & Easy anymore because of coupon issues and until they are resolved.
Marketing & promotions 101
The Promotional Pundit can't recall the last time he has seen a food and grocery retailer neglect consumers like this, especially since in the case of Fresh & Easy marketing director Simon Uwins he is using the Blog as a marketing tool. It looks to me like a better term would be "anti-marketing" tool in this case.
We all make mistakes, such as was the case Fresh & Easy made by not deleting the September 25 post, thereby creating unhappy consumers who clicked the link only to be told the online coupon was expired.
Those of us who publish Blogs know when it comes to readers leaving comments its the exception rather than the norm for them to do so. The fact seven readers of the Fresh & Easy corporate marketing Blog have left comments indicating being less than pleased about not getting their online coupons is a rather high number. Just imagine how many readers of the Blog also tried to get the coupon, were unhappy, but didn't leave a comment. We think its likely, based on seven that did comment, that number is easily in the hundreds.
Not answering the seven commentors'/consumers' remarks on the September 25 post, along with not deleting it or at least publishing a new post announcing the new $6-off online coupon launched today is pure lack of follow-up. And that's being kind. It's an example of a marketer taking his or her eye off the marketing ball. It also violates the first rule of marketing and promotions, which is: "But first...do no harm."
In this case the harm has already been done. And each additional day that September 25 post remains up makes the harm worse. It adds insult to injury.
For example, when I wrote my October 10 column, there were three complaints from consumers on that September 25 post in the Fresh & Easy marketing Blog. Just two days later on Sunday, there were four new ones.
Again, how many additional consumers read the September 25 post in the Fresh & Easy company marketing Blog just since I wrote my first column on Friday -- and again between yesterday and this evening when I am writing this -- and couldn't obtain their online coupon, were unhappy about it, but didn't comment as is the norm? Probably quite a few. Every customer a food retailer loses generally tells six or more family members, friends and co-workers about their bad experience with that retailer, and in the case where they stop shopping at that retailer's stores why they did so. Negative word of mouth advertising is not a good thing.
Sir Terry's ghost
One of the keys to the impressive global success of Tesco PLC. under the leadership of CEO Sir Terry Leahy has been the corporate culture he's promoted at the retailer's United Kingdom headquarters which emphasises attention to detail and follow-up.
However, It appears that corporate culture hasn't successfully made the journey across the pond from the UK to Southern California where Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's corporate headquarters is located. Until it does, we expect to see more examples of taking the eye off the ball like this and numerous other examples we've chronicled since December of last year.
Meanwhile, since there's no mention on the corporate marketing Blog about the new $6-off coupon located on the homepage of freshandeasy.com, despite the fact more than one of the commentors on that September 25 post ask in their comments when a new online coupon will be coming out. I suppose they will have to get lucky and find the link on the Web site. But they only have seven days to do so since that's when the online coupon launched today expires.