Most people will tell you the world of marketing promotions has gone digital, but take a look at Woolworths’ recent hit trading cards and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s still 1963, writes Chris Morley.
For many of Australia’s traditional retail brands, marketing to the modern consumer is proving somewhat difficult as deliberations are made over a multitude of different channels and methods. Now, Woolworths has shown that sometimes the tried and true option is the most effective.
Recently, Woolworths received credit for announcing some localisation initiatives to try and reposition its national brand as being relevant and getting back to ‘grass roots’ trading. Their ‘W Local’ campaign, it could also be argued, is trying to replicate the old village merchant (who knew your order as you walked in the door). It’s a great idea, but tricky to roll out from a national to local level – it’s yet to be seen how these plans will unfold and whether they will prove profitable.
By contrast, the recent Woolworths campaign that leveraged ‘Aussie Animal’ trading cards is one to behold.
Beginning fortuitously just before the sporting grand finals (September 18, to be exact) and peaking in the school holiday period, the promotion captured the attention of children across the country – who in turn are adept at capturing the contents of their parents’ wallets.
The success of these cards is amazing – and sure to bring Woolworths increased revenue in the hotly-contested supermarket duopoly wars.
When you think about the activity of family shopping, it usually comes down to a matter of convenience – the nearest supermarket usually wins. However, the major supermarkets will try and change this behaviour wherever possible, and in this case Woolworths were able to create a proposition with a very real chance of shifting that pattern through the popularity of their collector cards amongst children.
As Mum or Dad heads to the supermarket, a simple request for animal cards can – and often will – change a parent’s buying direction to keep the kids happy. The fact that the cards are marketed as educational and supporting the environment in some way is just icing on the cake.
The retailer has bolstered their proposition further by holding ‘Swap Days’ at the supermarket, thereby encouraging children to bring their cards and swap with other interested kids. In these cases, the majority of collectors can’t drive themselves, so Mum’s Taxi Service may as well do the shopping while said trading occurs – again it’s another trigger that can take money from Coles and give it to Woolies.
The whole concept – as simple as it seems – highlights the true assets still available to bricks and mortar retailers: the experience of a physical space where people can engage with other people, as well as products and brands. Would the trading card model work online? It probably could be made to work, but it would be an expensive proposition to create digital, tradable files in an app or website that generated the same level of excitement among younger age groups. More likely digital connectivity could be integrated into the existing physical trading cards – perhaps offering loyalty points or similar to further incentivise child-led purchasing behaviour.
But how do we know that this promotion has actually been successful?
While Woolies hasn’t released any hard figures surrounding around the promotion – at least, none that I’ve seen – there has clearly been a massive demand for the cards and the album the cards get stored in. On a recent trip to the supermarket, on a mission to secure one of these must-have card albums, my young daughter and I were disheartened to learn that Woolworths have actually sold out of their entire stock. It was suggested by a manager that the albums could possibly be sourced through eBay, and so I quickly jumped into the online market to find this:
This album was up for auction on eBay with a going rate of $73 with 10 minutes left in it. There had already been 30 bidders and I’m confident these numbers would have leapt higher still in the dying minutes. What is this – One Direction tickets for pre-schoolers? The mark-up of over one thousand percent is obviously being paid by some unfortunate parents, proving beyond a shadow of doubt that Woolworths have absolutely had a win in this regard.
School kids all over the country will continue desperately to complete their set of 108 cards for as long as they’re available, meaning that parents all over the country will continue going to Woolworths for their weekly shop. Meanwhile Woolworths marketers are laughing (much like card #62, The Kookaburra), all the way to the bank.