Woolworths wants to be king on all platforms

Over seven million Australians receive a Woolworths catalogue each letterbox drop, across a variety of community demographics, but for the supermarket chain’s director, customer experience, Jess Gill, it is only the start.

Ms Gill refers to the catalogue at the retailer’s “beating heart”, but it is part a multi-faceted marketing strategy to reach consumers.

It is one that is working well, judging by the group’s results for the first half of the financial year. Helping push Woolworths to reach an underlying first half net profit of $1.32 billion, up six per cent for the period, was food and liquor, the group’s leading category, growing by 6.7 per cent to $1.766 billion.

“We are big,” Ms Gill acknowledges, “and we have to be omnipresent.”

She says this calls for a “multi-tiered strategy” divided between national, state and local levels, targeting wherever the consumer eyeballs are: be it newspaper, desktop, mobile or tablet.

No singular medium was a recipe for success on its own, Ms Gill explained – rather, a synergy between print, online and broadcast, to in-store promotions like collectibles campaigns, is vital in Woolies’ success.

“Print is huge for us,” she says. “There’s something to be said for the tangible beauty of turning a page, which is fantastic on the weekend.

“But it’s not so terrific on a Monday morning when you’re rushing to work.

“I think my experience in this industry has seen not so much a shift from one to another, but a better understanding that consumers are actually multitasking and want information in a variety of ways.

“Being aware of how to engage with your audience at the right time is something marketers need to understand.”

Diversifying advertising media in order to reach consumers at all hours of the day was something corporations were getting better at, she said.

Online shopping has also influenced the retailer’s digital strategy, with a majority of shoppers favouring a mix of online and in-store experiences.

Ms Gill took on her role at Woolworths in September 2013, with 20 years of experience with brands including Telstra and Macquarie Bank.

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This piece has been edited to reflect the correct number of catalogues received by Australians each month.

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