Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fresh & Easy Buzz Redux: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Says 45,000 Consumers Sign-Up For its E-Mail Alert Program; We Suggested Such A Program 11 Months Ago

Promotional Merchandising: Online Marketing & Promotions

In this piece [Aldi USA, the Fastest-Growing Small-Format Grocer in the U.S. Promotes Everything But the Kitchen Sink (and Maybe That's Next) In its Weekly Store Ads] way back on May 4, 2008 Fresh & Easy Buzz said Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market was missing the promotional merchandising boat by not having an e-mail alert program similar to what small-format, hard-discount chain Aldi USA has had for a considerable amount of time -- and uses well. (Numerous other grocery chains, including Safeway Stores, Inc. also use e-mail alerts, particularly to distribute their weekly advertising circulars directly each week to consumers' e-mail boxes.

Below (in italics) is a paragraph from our May 4, 2008 story:

"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.]"

[Related reading: September 26, 2008: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Experiments With A $1-Off Online Discount Coupon; But its Paper Coupons Offer More Than Twice the Value.]

On December 22, 2008, Fresh & Easy Buzz was the first publication to report that Tesco's Fresh & Easy had launched just such an e-mail alert system or program. [ Read the piece here: Marketing: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Launches E-Mail Promo Alert Program; Something Fresh & Easy Buzz First Suggested it Do Many Months Ago.]

We believe we were the first to report on the development since (1) we can find no reports from other publications before our December 22 piece (there is one the very next day though), and (2) Tesco's Fresh & Easy sent out a press release on the e-mail alert program a few weeks after we reported on it, and then numerous other publications ran stories on the development.

As a follow up, in this piece [Breaking Buzz: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Distributes its First Promotional E-Mail Alert Today; Has the Grocer Been Reading Fresh & Easy Buzz This Week?] on January 30, 2009, we reported that Fresh & Easy had distributed it's first e-mail alert since creating the program in December, 2008.

A Tesco Fresh & Easy e-mail alert announcement

Last week (on March 10) Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market distributed a press release announcing it has signed-up 45,000 consumers to its e-mail alert program since it was launched in December, 2008.

Below we reprint the March 10, 2009 press release (in italics):

Fresh & Easy Email Program Attracts More Than 45,000 Customers in Less Than Three Months
Customers sign up as 'friends of fresh&easy' to receive news and exclusive promotions

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- In December, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market launched "friends of fresh&easy," an email program aimed at keeping customers informed with the company's latest news as well as exclusive offers and special deals. More than 45,000 customers have registered to receive emails since the program launched less than 3 months ago.

The "friends of fresh&easy" program was launched as a response to customer feedback. The company started an online survey last year to better understand how visitors were using the Fresh & Easy website ( One of the key takeaways from the survey was people are interested in receiving correspondence from the company via email. Starting in April, Fresh & Easy will further promote the campaign in stores through signage and handouts to encourage even more customers to sign up.

"More than 5,000 customers are currently signing up as 'friends of fresh&easy' each week," said Simon Uwins, Fresh & Easy's chief marketing officer. "This program is designed to give our customers news about Fresh & Easy as well as offer special promotions and exclusive offers. 'Friends of fresh&easy' has been well received by customers and is proving to be an exciting new promotional tool for us."

The most recent "friends of fresh&easy" email alerted customers to Fresh & Easy's Shop for Schools fundraising program, which is helping local schools raise money for what they need most. The email also included current product deals and an exclusive coupon.

In terms of our story 11 months ago suggesting why Tesco's Fresh & Easy was missing the boat by not having such an e-mail alert program and suggesting in the piece that it implement one, and the fact the grocery chain has now done so, we will just say...interesting.

It's also interesting that Fresh & Easy mentions that its last e-mail alert was about its "Shop for Schools" program. What it doesn't mention is, based on our tracking system, the "Shop for Schools" alert is only the second e-mail alert the grocery chain has sent to consumers' in-boxes since beginning the program in December, 2008. That sort of "alertness" isn't going to keep those 45,000 consumers who signed -up for the program very "alert" to what's happening at Fresh & Easy. [You can view Fresh & Easy's latest (and second since December, 2008) e-mail alert, which it sent on February 25, 2009, here.]

We were the first publication we can find that reported on Tesco Fresh & Easy's "Shop for Schools" program. We did so in this December 17, 2008 piece: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Launches 'Shop for Schools' Fund-Raising Program to Aid Schools Near its Stores. [Related reading: January 23, 2009: Fresh & Charitable: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Extends Deadline For Schools to Register For School Fundraiser Program. February 9, 2009: Grocers & Community: 769 Schools in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona to Participate in Tesco Fresh & Easy's 'Shop For Schools' Program.]

As we suggested in our piece way back in May, 2008 -- that Fresh & Easy is missing the boat by not using an e-mail alert system to directly distribute it advertising flyer to the inboxes of consumers who sign-up -- the grocer continues to miss that boat since it hasn't been doing that despite the fact it says it's signed-up 45,000 consumers and the e-mail alert program is now three months old.

As we reported on March 11, 2009 in this story [Fresh & Easy Buzz Redux: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Changes its Promotional Advertising Flyer to 'Weekly;' Something We've Been Suggesting For About A Year], Tesco's Fresh & Easy has now changed its promotional merchandising-marketing policy and is offering a weekly advertising flyer.

This change to the weekly ad flyer format now offers Fresh & Easy the opportunity to distribute the digital version of its weekly advertising flyer to the 45,000 (and growing) consumers in its e-mail alert data base every week. The time to do so is now. Doing so right away is a "no-brainer." It's a logical tie-in. Good marketing and promotions is all about good integration, including media integration.

We really don't know if signing-up 45,000 consumers in a little over three months is an achievement or not. After all, there are about 30 million people in the three markets Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood market has its 116 stores in: Southern California, Metro Las Vegas, Nevada and the Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan region. Viewing it that way, 45,000 consumers out of that population base isn't a huge number.

On the other hand, that's a mere population statistic. And the fact that thus far Fresh & Easy has only promoted the e-mail alert program via its Web site (and on, as we've reported), as well as getting publicity via articles like those in Fresh & Easy Buzz and other publications that have written about the program, 45,000 consumers signing -up in the three month period sounds fairly good, from that perspective.

The grocery chain says in the March 11 press release that beginning in April is plans to promote the e-mail alert program using signage and other communications materials in its stores. It should then be interesting to see how many more consumers sign-up for the alerts once that in-store communications program starts. We would suspect it should add considerably to the current (and growing) 45,000.

But while the sign-ups are essential, getting consumers to read the alerts and not delete them is key. That's one reason why the weekly advertising flyer should be distributed via the e-mail alert program each week. Aldi, for example, distributes its weekly ad flyer every Sunday to its list of consumer e-mail addresses. Others, such as Safeway Stores, Kroger and Raley's (to name just three) do it on Monday nights or Tuesdays, when there weekly advertising circulars come out.

Grocery shoppers shop weekly ads. Knowing the weekly Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market advertising flyer will arrive in the e-mail inbox each week will be something consumers see as a service from Fresh & Easy, just as it is from the many other grocers that distribute their weekly advertising circulars via e-mail. Shoppers compare these weekly ads right on line. Any grocery chain not offering the e-mail distribution option for the weekly ad flyer is at its own self-inflicted competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis- those food retailers that do so.

But in the final analysis it's good to know that it appears those consumers surveyed by Tesco's Fresh & Easy were on the same cognitive wave link that Fresh & Easy Buzz was on 11 months ago when we wrote that the grocery chain was missing the boat by not having such an e-mail alert system, and suggested they create and implement one. They have now done so.

Of course, the proof is in the use of such a system. Since December (there's only been two e-mail alerts that we and our trackers have collected), the grade for Tesco's Fresh & Easy with its e-mail alert program has been one of failing, if not non-use, in our analysis.

It appears Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is now preparing to better use the e-mail alert system. We will watch closely with interest.

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