World Cup, what World Cup
Grocery stores in the UK can be just a little bit dull, unlike in Mexico where most of the supermarkets and hypermarkets provide high energy entertainment.
Push girls and boys promote all manner of products and try and encourage you to trial and sample new, exciting variants.
Not so in UK grocery, is it regulation, is it cultural?
I have spent the last few days visiting stores, driving and visiting more stores as far afield as Colchester, Chelmsford, Birmingham, Stafford, Rugby, Cannock - a cross section of the top five trading retailers, names we are all familiar with.
My conclusion is that they are looking a bit lack lustre.
The marketing world is obsessed with consistency and the evidence is that goal is being met, leaving me to ponder mediocrity is ok, as long as it’s the same old, same old.
Consider the football World Cup why isn’t it embraced in store as pure retail entertainment, are stores so hand tied by regulation, and fear of reprisals from getting on the wrong side of commercial deals paid by brands, that the players must remain mute.
Along with store visits I have been talking to men in pubs about drinking beer, to a man they are passionate about football and are only limited by working hours as to how many World Cup games they can watch. They love sport and love football.
As I write, the England team score 6 goals against Panama and guarantee the team a place in the next round.
The football fanatics must eat, they must buy something to go with the beer. I don’t buy the tribal view that men consume and women shop, it’s out dated, in my house I do all the grocery shopping and I know we are not unique. So why not more colour in support of the biggest global sporting event of the year.
The retailers are dismissive, surely the World Cup is a gift for anyone in retail who wants to encourage shoppers to hang around and spend more time spending money in store. What an opportunity to showcase the World Cup and get shoppers engaged from the early group stages. Not so, very little store level activity apart from generic, passive signs and not much more from brands that sparkles. With a few exceptions, Mars, Coke, Budweiser and a few others, not great campaigns but at least they are telling something for us to muse over and targeting supporters
Grocery retailers should be experimenting with the physical store space and seeing how shoppers react to different campaigns and themes. Very soon as more diverse technology takes over in grocery and channels get subsumed; as the opportunities to shop digital channels expands and, fewer shoppers spend time in stores - physical stores will be under pressure to reinvent. The retail bricks and mortar will have to reimagine purpose, perhaps being more integral to the social glue of local communities.
So why not start with something like the World Cup, own it, give it the enthusiastic support it deserves and demonstrate that retail is thriving and building winning habits for the future.
Come on England, give UK brand owners and grocers a hand, we are all counting on you to do well.