Customer Empowerment at the University-Spar!


One way to involve active consumer participation is to let the consumers vote.

The supermarket Spar uses this consumer empowerment strategy at our very own university. Hereby, the Spar selects a product and visitors of the Spar can “like” or “dislike” the product by means of pressing a button at a touch screen. When the product receives over 50 likes, the Spar will add it to their assortment. When looking at the customer empowerment matrix by Fuchs & Schreier (2011), this strategy falls in the lower right corner.

Since the Spar gathers information and opinions about their customers, this strategy could be considered as a way of data gathering by means of crowdsourcing. However, I think this tool is mainly used as a marketing tool instead. To investigate whether consumers would like this product or not, Spar could also do a pilot by adding the product for a limited time to their assortment and after that looking at the sales figures whether this product is desired by the customers or not. Besides that, there is a possibility that consumers “like” the product without actually buying it.

The marketing aspect of this tool unfolds in two ways. Firstly, it functions as a promotion campaign for that specific product, since the product is given extra attention in the store. Customers of the Spar may buy it now, because the product is put in a spotlight, whereas they may not have bought it if it was, just like the other products, regularly in the shelves. This is a typical example whereby a store pushes the product towards the consumer (Balugly & Uysal, 1996). Secondly, this marketing tool can have a favorable impact on the image of the Spar as a supermarket itself. According to Fuch & Scheier (2011), (even passive) consumers perceive a higher level of customer orientation, more favorable corporate attitudes, and stronger behavioral intentions when firms empower their customers in such way. Even if consumers do not like the product or do not use the tool, it can still have a positive impact on the brand image of Spar, since consumers feel that Spar integrates consumer’s opinion in assortment selection. Interesting to see is, that there is no marketing found online about this tool. The only place where one can know about this campaign, is by being in the store physically. This is something that Spar could improve, by making this campaign more visible, as Claire Gilby (2012) E.ON executive of stresses: The biggest mistake E.ON could make was to not be visible.

To conclude, with having such a tool with already existing products, I would think that its aim is more for marketing purposes, instead of gathering data about the product or consumers. However, purposes and outcomes could be different with new product development.

 

Sources:

Baloglu, S., & Uysal, M. (1996). Market segments of push and pull motivations: A canonical correlation approach. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management8(3), 32-38.

Fuchs, C., & Schreier, M. (2011). Customer empowerment in new product development. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(1), 17-32

http://www.research-live.com/features/tapping-customer-energy-sources/4008187.article

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