As Price Chopper Evolves, So Does Its Digital Strategy

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As Price Chopper Evolves, So Does Its Digital Strategy

By Suzy Frisch - 12/21/2018

MinneapolisPrice Chopper Supermarkets boasts a nearly 90-year history of successful operations, growing to 133 locations in six East Coast states. As the company rebrands its stores to become Market 32, it’s taking a closer look at the way it does everything. Evaluating and shifting its approach to shopper marketing is a big part of that process.

“Market 32 has an emphasis on fresh food and the shopping experience. It’s not just a different banner we operate,” said Glen Bradley, vice president of group marketing at Price Chopper, explaining the new branding that launched in 2015. “It impacts everything we do in our Market 32 stores and traditional Price Chopper stores. It’s how we interact with customers in-store, online and in digital.”

Partnering with Oracle Data Cloud, Price Chopper set out to test different methods of marketing and track the data surrounding those changes. Bradley and Blake Eisler, director of CPG retail client solutions at Oracle Data Cloud, walked through their approach and learning during a Path to Purchase Expo seminar in October.

In its work with Price Chopper, Oracle Data Cloud aims to drive smart, digital media activations that help before, during, and after ad buys, while deploying data to guide decisions, Eisler said. “We’re trying to hit the right audience in the right context, where the impressions are driving ad-serving opportunities with the right attention,” she said. “Then we get quality impressions and quality outcomes.”

Acknowledging the 46%-plus drop in newspaper and magazine penetration with consumers and the 193% boost in smartphone adoption, the partners decided to focus mainly on digital marketing. They didn’t totally eliminate print channels because many customers still use paper ads to make purchasing decisions. To find the best balance between print and digital, Oracle and Price Chopper used data analytics to make discoveries, then applied the findings to marketing decisions.

“It’s helpful to know what we want to measure and what our goals are,” Bradley said. “Our goals are to drive people into the stores – that’s the objective for every ad campaign.”

In the Northeast, 66% still want to peruse a paper circular. But this inclination starts dropping off with younger shoppers ages 18-34. The question is, what is an effective balance between paper and digital that will continue driving shoppers to the store? “We want a mix,” Bradley said. “And we want to establish our brand as we’re changing and evolving our brand online.”

During a continuous process of testing and learning, the partners conducted a variety of trials. That might mean pulling the paper circular from some ZIP codes to posting the circular on Facebook complete with eye-catching food photography. In every case, the team tracked results such as who saw the ads, if the ads prompted visits to the store, and whether those customers then made purchases.

Once Price Chopper and Oracle Data Cloud determined the mix between print and digital, they next zeroed in on the most effective digital approaches because there are so many viable options, Eisler said. So far, targeted advertising on Facebook has showed a strong return on investment for the Price Chopper/Market 32 ads.

In the future, the partners will look at diversifying its platforms for shopper marketing, target various segments like new shoppers or loyal customers, and test other approaches like using pricing or in-store engagement to drive sales – all while tracking data.

“I’m not going to predict that paper circulars are dying,” Bradley said. “From what we’re seeing, grocery has been behind in moving to digital. We’re rapidly catching up and looking to move forward with a significant move into digital and away from traditional media. As the customer moves, we’ll meet the customer. But not too far.”