Upmarket grocer Waitrose is the leading UK supermarket at using social media to convert sales, according to a new study published this week.
Research from communications strategy, media buying and management agency Starcom MediaVest Group found that the retailer also uses social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to good effect in turning consumers into brand advocates.
Some 92 per cent of those taking an action on Waitrose’s social media platforms, which could involve making a comment, viewing a video or interacting in some other way with the brand online, showed intent to purchase products at the retailer.
Even 59 per cent of those users who were not taking an action on Waitrose’s social media site showed purchasing intent, which put it some way ahead of its nearest competitors such as Tesco and The Co-operative Food in the Supermarket UK table.
More widely, it was found that shoppers taking an action on a supermarket Facebook page are twice as likely to shop there this Christmas, while those who interact with grocers’ YouTube channels are even more likely to make festive purchases at that company this year.
With consumer finances increasingly squeezed, the battle for Britons’ hard-earned cash is expected to be even more competitive than usual this December, so gaining the upper hand at a social commerce level could be a key factor in dictating business success this Christmas.
Jim Kite, Strategic Development Director at Starcom, said: “In a difficult economic environment every pound spent on media and marketing is scrutinised closely for return on investment.
“Last Christmas the big six supermarkets spent a combined £69 million on media support for their festive campaigns, and all indications are pointing toward a similar investment in 2011.”
The Supermarket UK survey investigated how the nation’s top six grocers in terms of market share – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-op and Waitrose – foster relationships with potential customers online, and it is the latter which has fared most favourably.
Celebrity chefs such as Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal play a major role in Waitrose’s overall marketing and digital strategies, and according to this survey they are giving the business the edge over its rivals, which run ads featuring the likes of famous cook Jamie Oliver and popular actress Julie Walters.
“Waitrose’s clever mix of cooking videos and recipes from well-known cooks, expert Q&A, and interactive step-by-step Christmas roast planner are clearly resonating strongly with site visitors and adding value to their shopping experience,” Kite added.
“By comparison, the Tesco and Sainsbury’s content is having less impact on consumer behaviour.”