Meet Sean. Sean is a printer from Yorkshire. He has a wife and two kids and, he says, the whole family “loves movies”.
Friday night is movie night in Sean’s house. A house incidentally, that has Sky Q, Netflix and a Blu-ray player and a high definition TV. He’s only just found out about 4K, but he’s thinking of investing in it.
Sean is the future of the industry and one of the focal points for what BASE says is its most ambitious project yet.
And he’s also the reason half the industry has been travelling to Leeds over the past few months, to assess what Sean thinks of changes in the Asda store at Morley where he is a regular customer.
He’s one of a group of customers handpicked by Asda and by distributors, working through BASE and its Project 2020 group, to look at how home entertainment is racked in stores and what the industry can do to improve the customer experience and drive sales.
“When I’m doing the food shop, I don’t normally look at the movies,” he says. “But when it’s movie night, Friday night usually, we’ll all come down, grab some popcorn and grab a movie. We’ll stock up with sweets and crisps.”
The customer input has helped work out how the home entertainment category looks and also works. This means less SKUs, lowering shelves, introducing category management to make browsing easier and improving navigation, as well as a reduced chart size, with larger numbers. And in all this, Blu-ray is in a central position.
“I told them to get rid of the drivel below the chart product,” says Sean, talking The Raygun through the DVD and Blu-ray selection in the Morley store. “People are looking for top quality movies. Now it’s easier to find what you’re looking for. It’s all about the newness of titles.”
The 36-year-old is clearly enthusiastic about how it looks and how it’s worked out, so much so he starts pointing films out, telling us what he’ll be watching the coming Friday (it’s Aquaman, which, during our visit, was a relatively new release).
“The people [like Sean] who visit stores week in week out, they’re our bread and butter. But sometimes they pass the aisle, we need to convert them to purchasing,” says Matt Cherry from Fox, one of the Project 2020 members who is in Yorkshire for the day.
“Everyone’s been working together,” says Cherry. “We invited customers to tell us how it was for them in stores, and to talk about how it could be. We listened to what they had to say. These are people who buy DVDs or lapsed DVD consumers, they’re real customers. It gives you a starting point.”
Cherry said there were some interesting learnings – customers didn’t necessarily like value ranges and things based on budget prices (“they don’t want to look poor”). As Cherry notes: “Customer feedback is so honest and real, it changes your perceptions of what you think you know.”
The results look positive and encouraging – so much so that Asda is rolling the concept out to a further 10 stores, while some of the learnings will be adopted in all stores. Morley will remain as the key outlet to further test ideas. “Not only does it look good, the results have been fantastic,” says Cherry. “It’s good news for Asda and it’s good news for the industry.”
Asda agrees, if anything, it’s made its video offering far superior to other entertainment. “We need to ensure that our other Entertainment categories do not become the poor relation to video!” jokes the retailer’s senior buying manager for entertainment Andrew Thompson.
He further notes the spirit of collaboration that it has inspired. “It’s been really easy to share the learnings with the rest of the industry. They have been involved every step of the way; working with us on our vision for the project, supporting the implementation in store and interviewing customers. It has been a really great example of collaboration across all our key industry partners on video, with the team at BASE bringing us all together. It has also been great fun!”
Back in London, Universal’s head of customer experience Vicki Davis, one of the driving forces behind the scheme, concurs. She said: “We’ve been really thrilled by the response to the new aisle layout from both the customers and staff in the Asda Morley store, as well as the Asda General Merchandising business. It’s also been great to see the amount of buzz the initiative has generated across the industry too – the fact that all of the studios have worked together and with Asda and Hidden Gorilla so collaboratively, putting the customer at the heart of the project and investing in the physical retail space shows everyone’s commitment to the category and desire to innovate to keep our shoppers transacting. We’re looking forward to building on everything we’ve learned so far with Asda and to supporting both Asda and our other retail partners in achieving their objectives and keeping the category relevant, entertaining and vibrant as we go into 2020 and beyond.”
The work of the group as a whole has won further praise from other retailers too – this its third initiative, one which was across grocers, the other with Sainsbury’s. The grocer’s category manager for books, music and film said: “It’s great to see BASE leading with projects like Project 2020 to drive engagement as customer habits evolve. Sainsbury’s first came into contact with the group‘s work with the delivery of the q4 slate lanyards back in 2017, which in turn led to the work around the permanent metal shippers in 450 plus of our stores. They’ve been a really positive way to minimise cardboard, which feels very topical and timely with the environmental focus at present, but they also speak to the group’s desire to bring the category to the fore with shoppers. The teams have managed to get very creative with how we use the space on the new shippers and there has also been a reduction in supplier costs that kicks in once the initial investment is paid off.”
Meanwhile, Asda is thrilled with the work. As Thompson concludes: “The successes have included moving to merchandising by genre, introducing light boxes, an edited clearer range, new release and promotional bays, and introducing confectionary to the offer to name a few. The most significant aspect is that we believe we have improved the ease of shop for customers.
“We are going to take some of the early learnings and roll these out across the estate, namely genre merchandising, selective sku reduction and some elements of POS such as bay fins.
“It has brought my team and I much closer to our customers and has given us real energy to make sure we offer them the best possible experience in our MVG department We still have much more work to do, but the whole process has had the Asda customer at the heart of each decision.”
For BASE, it represents one of the most ambitious undertakings the organisation has ever taken. Chief executive Liz Bales said: “Project 2020 represents one of BASE’s most robust, resourced and engaged project groups and is a source of pride because of that – it’s incredibly unusual for a trade association to be driving projects like this and, across the board, the sustained engagement from the BASE board, broader membership, the Project 2020 team itself and our partner agency, Hidden Gorilla, represents the kind of best in class collaboration the category can clearly benefit from.
“The Asda trial and the outputs from that clearly represent the current high water mark of the group’s ambitions but it’s important to note that the path to the Morley store is paved with perhaps more incremental but still very significant wins too. They kicked off back in Q4 2017 with the easily accessible slate information given to store staff at Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s in the form of lanyards, helping reconnect the category and the store staff on the ground with the customer. Showing what collaboration around shared goals could achieve, that step in turn led to the installation of permanent metal shippers in 450+ of Sainsbury’s best performing stores – a significant step from a cost-saving and an environmental point of view as well as a measure of the growing ambition of the group. From there, the Asda trial has become the crown jewel and has been a fantastic journey for BASE to be leading. We sincerely hope it also acts as a clarion call to wider retail partners that the project group is very much open for business and keen to effect even wider, category level change to meet the challenges the physical market is presenting.”Tags: Asda, BASE, grocery, industry, marketing, Project 2020, retail
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