Building MULO Grocery Loyalty via Innovative New Approaches

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Consider how YOU shop at your local grocery store (if you visit them yourself versus ordering staples online).

Many of us view grocery stores as a commodity. Perhaps we frequent one or two local stores based on proximity, selection, or prices. We get coupons (either in the mail or digitally) and may be swayed to sample a new product or try a new store.

However, Fareway Stores, Inc., a regional, multi-location brand with about 129 locations, is using a combination of digital influencer marketing and good old-fashioned common sense to build traffic and loyalty.

We spoke with McClane Gill, the Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications for the MULO brand, to talk about how a commodity brand can win the consumer’s share of wallet.

What are some of the biggest challenges in the retail grocery space today?

“The thing about grocery stores is that there’s always a need for it. In good economic times, people shop at Fareway to celebrate, try new things, etc. In worse economic times, people come to shop for ways to save money and for essentials. The challenge is that we have to learn how to adapt to shoppers’ needs as their needs change.”

How else do you leverage influencers?

Hummingbirds connects us with loyal Fareway fans. We incentivize them with gift cards to share their shopping experiences.  We also do influencer marketing on a larger scale throughout the U.S. We currently have an ambassador program named Reppin the F, comprised of 15 college athletes, like Iowa girls wrestling, who are brand champions for Fareway. We are also involved in local events, host virtual cooking classes, and our Cart-to-Kitchen web series, which comprises episodes educating customers on cooking, buying, cleaning, and preparation tips.”

We understand that you ran a campaign over Thanksgiving that even prompted CPG product brands to reduce their prices. How did you do that?

“We partnered with General Mills and Hormel for a special campaign for Thanksgiving, leveraging the Hummingbirds. Vendors reduced prices on certain products. We featured products like Planter’s Peanuts and Chex cereal. We then loaded those into our Hummingbirds campaign to reach real customers to share how they use the products, from homemade Chex mix to chili cook-offs. This was coordinated with our November ads so customers will see the Hummingbirds content in their newsfeed and also in their weekly circular. That’ll come full circle with our ad promotion on streaming services.”

How else do you leverage digital media?

“SEO isn’t a big focus because we’re primarily in smaller towns, and people already know who we are. Our main focus in terms of digital strategy is to drive traffic via targeted ads. We use Google display ads, paid search, and streaming ads on platforms like Hulu, Paramount Plus, and YouTube TV. In many of our markets, we typically have one or two competitors. Our primary goal is to drive traffic to our weekly ads and online shopping. We differentiate ourselves with quality and customer service to keep customers returning.”

Again, this proves that neither digital nor human marketing alone can build a MULO brand! Moving products off the shelves and building loyalty takes a perfect blend of both.



Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.