Loblaw and President’s Choice just keep on innovating

Posted by Mike Woroniak, Chief Creative Officer + Managing Partner, Arcas Advertising

Innovation is often an overused term in business, marketing and advertising. For me, real innovation in marketing is about solving a consumer problem – take GPS technology for vehicle navigation – or creating a product or service that we never thought we might ever need or want (the iPad comes to mind.)

Branding innovation takes risks – for making happy customers

One could say we were more than impressed when Loblaw introduced the clothing brand Joe Fresh into their stores around a decade ago. An economical line of surprisingly fashionable clothing and accessories in a grocery store? Yep. And somehow it works.

Joe Clothing Display

But who would have thought? Perhaps a growing sea of budget conscious parents and fashion-starved teens, that’s who. And also maybe that one certain clothes shopper persona who always has that uncanny ability to turn heads with fashion bought either cheap or designer expensive. We all secretly wish we were that person, don’t we?

Brand and advertising innovation can be found right under one’s nose

We have seen Galen Weston Jr. – the executive chairman and President of Loblaw Companies Limited – assume and effortlessly master the spotlight as President’s Choice advertising spokesperson. His casual, friendly demeanour, and obvious passion for the brand and its products/services, portrays a grocery and shopping experience that is constantly evolving for the better. Yet always with the end user in mind.

Galen Weston Jr.

Some brands are able to successfully access and utilize individuals from their executive/owner ranks as spokespeople where others can not. Colonel Sanders (KFC), Oprah Winfrey (Oprah Magazine), James Dyson (Dyson) and the late Dave Thomas (Wendy’s) all have been successful in their spokesperson/CEO/owner roles.

Remember that advertising tagline, ‘Everything You Want in a Drugstore’?

Today, Loblaw continues its quest to reinvent the grocery shopping experience for customers – including with their $12+ billion purchase of the Shoppers Drug Mart chain.

Shoppers Drug Mart Display

The grocery giant quickly took proactive inventory of that yesteryear Shoppers tagline and began re-designing and upgrading the chain’s stores across the country, all while swiftly introducing more upscale, market-like grocery offerings within the stores as well. Pick up some centre cut pork chops or maybe fresh sushi while grabbing some Buckley’s Cold & Sinus, a birthday card for mom and epsom salts? No problem. Shoppers has it all.

Recognizing consumer habits with rewards

Who doesn’t like saving money? And having a little fun? PC Plus is a new digital rewards/loyalty program – via mobile app or standard card – that not only offers the customer access to weekly specials and reward points, but it plays out as a social gamification of the grocery shopping experience as it tailors offers uniquely to each customer the more that they shop and use the program – based on their shopping habits and patterns.

PC Plus Card

Branding with good nutrition choices

Guiding Stars is a very recent food nutrition ranking system PC has introduced that allows the customer make more informed choices about the food they are purchasing. While the easy-to-follow system simplistically ranks food items from 1 to 3 stars – with three stars being the most nutritious – it helps provide an obvious reminder to the kinds of food choices we make each and every day.

Loblaw has also woven PC Plus points into making a shopper’s more nutritional three star choices worth more points. Smart and innovative yet again – and tweet worthy, you could say.

The right corporate culture is required

Loblaw continues to impress with its ongoing marketing innovations as well as the presentation of the benefits of each new product or service. Effective innovation takes work, insight and analysis/observation of data and consumer patterns/habits – and not just latching on to the latest trendy marketing clichés or technological fads. (Has anyone used a QR Code recently?)

It also takes creating a corporate culture of innovation. Loblaw seems to have this inherent in spades. So pull up a comfy chair and watch for them to continue their innovative leadership in the exciting years to come. And while you are there, watching in awe, maybe take a moment to enjoy yet another Loblaw innovation – the President’s Choice Black Label Collection – that offers a selection of more refined food and flavour products from around the world.

Please tweet me at @mike_go_arcas – or our advertising agency at @Arcas_Ad and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you. And might I recommend the PC Black Label Bacon Marmalade Spread? It’s what you might call ‘innovation heaven’.

PC bacon marmalade