That missed marketing opportunity is the lack of the use of a simple e-mail address-based alert function on its Fresh & Easy Web site in which the retailer can alert customers and potential customers to its regulars advertising circulars, coupons, company news and related promotions and information, a function many food and grocery retailers, including the fast-growing small-format Aldi discount grocery chain, offer.
For example, below is a paragraph about the missed opportunity from a piece we published on May 4, 2008:
"Additionally, although we searched for it, we can't seem to find a function on the Fresh & Easy website in which a customer or potential customer can put in their email address and receive the online advertising circular in their email box like one can with Aldi. Adding this function is cheap to do, and Fresh & Easy is missing the boat by not having such a simple yet powerful tool on its website. [If there is such a feature, and we missed it, it means it's hard to find because we searched all over the site for it.]" Read our complete May 4, 2008 story on the topic here.
The reason, as it says in the paragraph, we searched all over the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Web site but couldn't find such a function is because one didn't exit -- until this month that is.
Tesco's Fresh & Easy, perhaps by mere coincidence to our suggestions, has this month launched just such an e-mail-based alert function on its company Web site, which you can find here.
Here's what Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market says in promoting the new e-mail function (graphic at top of the piece) and what we suggested could also become a valuable marketing and promotional database over time:
Are you a friend of fresh & easy?
'We've made it easy for you to get the scoop on our latest news , budget prices and special offers. Sign up below and we'll make sure you know what's happening around your store! Plus by signing up now, you'll receive an exclusive coupon for $6 off when you spend $30 or more at fresh & easy by December 24, 2008'.
We don't get the "exclusive" aspect as it relates to Fresh & Easy's use of that term in the ad copy, since the $6 off coupon is the one Fresh & Easy gives out to everybody. "Exclusive" has a specific meaning after all and certainly doesn't apply to the coupon. But minus using the term "exclusive" we think it's a good idea to offer it -- if the grocer is going to offer the coupon at all -- as part of an incentive to get customers and potential customers to sign up for the e-mail based alerts.
Food and grocery retailers like Aldi, Safeway Stores, Inc., Kroger, Whole Foods Market and many others -- including many in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona where the Fresh & Easy markets are located -- have been using e-mail alerts for a long time. It's a simple, cheap and effective way to communicate with consumers.
It's also a natural, 21rst century way to get a retailer's weekly grocery ad into the hands of shoppers in an inexpensive and alternative (in addition to paper) way. Imagine the money retailer's could save if they can eventually eliminate paper advertising circulars, for example.
Having an e-mail alert function is something Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market should have been doing long ago. But it has to date been behind the marketing curve on this and so many other areas, particularly relating to the use of the Internet, which it should be a leader in rather than a follower. For example, imagine if the started the e-mail alert program in January of this year -- the grocer would have a nice data base built by now.
Additionally, since Fresh & Easy's customer base appears from our research to thus far be overwhelmingly comprised of younger people (about age 18-35), a group that uses the Internet and personal communication devices as second nature, the retailer should use the Internet and the various forms of electronic communication available to it like...well, second nature, in our analysis and opinion.
At its sign up site, Fresh & Easy indicates it also will eventually sent text message updates as well as e-mail alerts. Using text messaging alerts to personal electronic communication devices -- mobile phones, Blackberry's, iphones -- is something we've been suggesting in Fresh & Easy Buzz offers great potential for marketers in the food, grocery and consumer packaged goods industries.
For example, we see a day very soon when consumer packaged good manufacturers can send coupons directly to a shopper while she is in the aisle at a grocery store. For example, say a shopper is in the household cleaning products aisle. She could press a button on her mobile phone or other device and get a list of coupons for laundry detergent -- Tide, Cheer, even the store private label brand. No worry about printing any coupons out. The stores would be hooked up to companies offering the service. There could be a simple way to transmit the coupon data from the customers' hand-held devices to the stores' point-of-sale systems as the shopper has her purchases checked out, the coupon values being deducted from her order.
This is just one example of what we believe are a myriad of marketing uses, and convenient options for consumers, of digital technology and its application to food and grocery marketing and shopping.
Promoting e-mail alerts on the MyPoints.com systemTesco's Fresh & Easy also is promoting its e-mail alert program via the MyPoints.com reward program (promotion graphic from MyPoints.com pictured above), Fresh & Easy Buzz has learned. Consumers with a MyPoints account recently received an e-mail alert, as they do from other companies using the system, announcing the Fresh & Easy program. Below is the text of that Mypoints.com alert as it was sent to users:
Get Your Points!
"Now that you've read the BonusMail, visit Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market™ online. Receive 5 Points. It then offer a link to the Fresh & Easy Web site."
In addition to MyPoints.com users getting five MyPoints bonus points (Mypoints' are similar to credit card points or airline miles in concept and use), which Fresh & Easy pays MyPoints.com for providing its users as part of the advertising arrangement, Fresh & Easy is offering the MyPoints.com users that sign up for the e-mail alerts on its freshandeasy.com Web site a coupon for a free Fresh & Easy reusable canvas shopping bag, which they can redeem in-store if they spend more than $10 at a Fresh & Easy market.
Since Fresh & Easy sells these bags for 99-cents in-store, we don't see it as much of a deal, and thus doubt if there will be much action in regard to consumers going to crazy over getting a 99-cent canvas bag for free in return for spending $10 at the store. Fresh & Easy should also have offered its $6 off coupon to the MyPoints.com users, along with the bag offer. Why not?
But using MyPoints.com as an additional avenue to promote the e-mail alert campaign is a good idea, in our analysis and opinion. Doing so taps into an established base of Internet savvy consumers who regularly use online-based marketing tools and programs offered by companies. It's smart for Fresh & Easy to piggyback on this base, we believe, even if the canvas bag incentive is rather on lean-incentive side. The main incentive to MyPoints.com users, in all promotions, are the five free MyPoint.
We are wondering why though Fresh & Easy hasn't e-mailed its current online promotional flyer to e-mail addresses, at least ours and those of a few readers we know, since we -- and they -- have already signed up for the e-mail alerts? In fact, you receive nothing via e-mail from Fresh & Easy after you sign -up -- not even a simple inbox message alerting you to the fact that something will be coming in a week or two, like the message we mentioned earlier in this piece that you get on the company's Web site after putting in your name and e-mail address.
It's simple to create a simple "bounce back" reply via e-mail like this. It's a good idea to do because not only does it provide instant feedback via e-mail to the person who just signed up -- something that's a good sign of things to come -- it also allows Fresh & Easy to get its first message (why not include a link to the $6-off coupon in a simple two or three sentence "bounce back" response if it need be limited to such) to its new e-mail alert participants right way.
God (and the Devil too it is said) is in the details. Add Internet savvy consumers to that list. Those consumers used to using the Internet regularly, like the target consumer base Fresh & Easy is (or should be) after with its new e-mail alert program, are used to and like instant response -- that's why they not only use computers but portable electronic communication devices as well.
Therefore, not getting any response from Fresh & Easy via e-mail after signing-up for the e-mail alerts program tends to short circuit the "alert" aspect of the program. It also makes users wonder if their e-mail sign-up went through, since they are used to getting immediate responses (instant feedback) from nearly all similar Web site sign ups. The grocery chain should fix that and add an immediate e-mail response "bounce back" posthaste, in our analysis. Follow through is key to everything a food and grocery retailer does. And details matter always, especially in marketing programs.