The Co-op used to be known as an ethical brand. Its message was we don’t do the nasty things, customers are members, and we source things ethically.
Went pear shaped
Then it went pear shaped with the poor banking results and the coke sniffing head of its bank, Paul Flowers. Banking customers fled: 38,000 were lost.
The brand, and it is a brand, was tarnished. It was also up against the might of the supermarkets. And its share of the market was falling. Market share now is about 8% now. Even worse: its customers are older than the competiton.
Now comes the fight back.
- It has started to offer discounts to students who can show a student card. Well done, feed a younger market.
- It has used advertising to tell the world it is still an ethical bank: we don’t invest in big oil, is the message. Well done: win back those who left and play to your ethical roots.
- It is closely identifying the sources of its products, not only Fairtrade which it was the first chain to adopt. One of the original aims of the Coop in 1844 was to make sure people got good quality food. Well done: make it local.
Yet this is not enough because the damage has been so heavy on the reputation of the Coop. What about trying to engage further the members? They have a loyalty card as they do for other supermarkets. But they are, after all, members. Play on this theme. Because the Coop pays its profits to its members, not to its shareholders or its bankers.
What are your ideas for the Coop fightback?
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