Natural Foods Merchandiser

Put market-research data to use in your store

Selling Smart

Last month you learned how to use data collected from in-store surveys to do promotions in the community. Now, let's take a look at how to use other pieces of data from that same survey. As you lay out your marketing and promotional plans, examine results from questions throughout the survey, but focus especially on the following categories: "Purchasing Behavior" and "Attitudes Toward Store." (See the August 2005 issue.)

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In-store event
Now that you know the demographics of your customers, plan an event that will appeal to a segment of your market. Plan it as a fund-raiser in partnership with a local nonprofit organization. This will help you get free publicity and share the benefits of your partner's loyal audience. Send out press releases and fact sheets so the media will list your event in the community calendar, and potentially write articles in advance, cover the event and air public?service announcements to supplement your paid advertisements. Print an event flier to use as a bag stuffer and ask your nonprofit partner?to?distribute it as well. Partner with your vendors to cover the cost of the fliers and advertising. In return, create an end cap to feature their products, and invite their reps to set up a table at the event or offer to provide a demo person on their behalf.

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Observe promotional months
Some promotional months are spon?sored by national organizations, such as the National Celiac Disease Awareness Month in October; others are sponsored by our industry, such as Go Organic! for Earth Day in April. And, of course, you can create your own monthly promotions. If your surveys showed that you have a large senior population, create a senior-month celebration with free seminars featuring presentations by local senior specialists. Designate those dates as "Senior Savings Days." Partner with a local organization to get press coverage and additional promotional opportunities. Contact your local newspaper's health writer, as well as communities that have active seniors, such as golf and country clubs. Remember to go back to your survey data to see where your customers live.

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Loyalty programs
Look at the answers from the "Purchas?ing Be?havior" questions such as: "How often do you shop at our store?" and "Where else do you shop for natural, organic and health products?" Develop or expand your existing customer loyalty programs such as frequent shopper cards or referral programs. Create a "Bring a Friend Day." Make an offer like "Give this card to a friend and if she redeems it, both of you will be entered into a fabulous drawing!" Or invite customers to bring a friend to your caf? for lunch: "Buy one entr?e, get one free!"

Cross marketing
Pay attention if customers say they particularly like a specific section of your store. Others may not have discovered that department yet. Find creative ways to cross-market within your store, leading customers from one department to another.?Ask vendors for support materials such as signage and samples.

Advertising
Re-evaluate your advertising mix, applying the results of the "Advertising" part of the survey. Quote customers as testimonials in your ads.

Make improvements
Take a good look at the "Attitudes Toward Store" answers. Wherever you can, oblige customers' responses to the questions: "What else should we be doing to make you a happier customer? What other products would you like to buy from us that we are not now carrying? What's the best thing about shopping here? How can we improve your customer experience?"

You have a mountain of valuable information from the most qualified experts: your customers. Now it's up to you to mine it and turn it into gold.

Debby Swoboda is president of DS Marketing Solutions, a full-service marketing agency. Debby can be contacted at 772.287.8118 or visit www.dsmarketingsolutions.com.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 2/p. 24

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