Countdown vs New World: who will win?

01 October 2015
Countdown vs New World: who will win?
When Tesco in Asia created the shopable wall, the internet went crazy. The prospect of being able to shop for groceries without having to enter a store blew people’s minds because it solved a number of customer pain points with a single stroke.

As a branding agency we’re lucky enough to work with corporates and start-ups to help them develop innovative and disruptive new ideas. We’re currently working on a handful of exciting projects in the financial sector. Naturally we can’t go into specifics, but working on these projects has highlighted a frustration of mine. Despite Tesco’s efforts, why is the rate of innovation within the New Zealand grocery sector so far behind other sectors, such as finance, telecomunications, transport and medical? Last week our creative director and I had lunch with a member of the Spark Ventures team to chew the fat about how the brand creates new products. After the rebrand from Telecom to Spark, the company realised that to stay relevant and ahead of the competition, they needed to innovate, which meant creating products that complement their existing offerings and creating others that are new to the business.

Spark Ventures is working on the following products:

Vigil Monitoring: Vigil develops biometric monitoring technology that provides peace of mind by making it easier to care for the elderly, babies and others in need
Morepork: Morepork is the next generation in home security. It gives you the ability to monitor and control your home from your smartphone. Currently in beta, a full scale launch is due in 2015
Putti: Lets anyone create their own mobile app, via a fast, user-friendly and feature-rich cloud service. Manage loyalty, payments and push messages, for a great price.

These ideas are an example of how a company taps into the innovation ambition matrix, which you can see below.

Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs are the largest suppliers of groceries in New Zealand. Like Vodafone and Spark before 2Degrees jumped into the ring, they’re a duopoly, which means they have a limited appetite for innovation.

In recent years Countdown (Progressive) introduced online shopping and delivery. This was a good start, but what’s next?

New World (Foodstuffs) introduced Park Safe a programme designed to “enhance safety for both drivers and pedestrians at New World car parks” and the New World Club Card.

Assuming Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs are reading this, and I know some of them do, here are some starters for ten:

Digitise coupons and offers: Placing ads in bus shelters and billboards is ridiculous when these offers change daily. Delivering special messages digitally will increase awareness, drive sales and allow the delivery of personalised offers
Health and Wellbeing: To move beyond commodity branding and a price war, the supermarket that shows it cares will engender stronger brand loyalty. How about partnering with Fitbit to encourage people to stay healthy or use the purchase data to show month
Rewards and loyalty: Let’s change up the face of rewards programmes. Instead of incentivising only purchase behaviour, what about incentives for staying fit (tie it into a Health Plan) and reward what customers actually want?
Convenience: Why do I have to go in store to do my shopping or wait for the delivery person? How about ordering online and on my way home, I can swing by and pick up the pre-packed items from a special pick-up zone? If someone wants something urgently, th
Local: I don’t think grocery stores really understand their role in the local community. They’re a hub for people to do their shopping but they can be so much more than that. They occupy huge amounts of real estate, car parks can hold community fairs, ope

I don’t think Progressive Enterprises or Foodstuffs really understand what they can be. Perhaps they’re afraid to make the change or maybe there isn’t enough competition pushing them. When I think about the things I dislike the most, grocery shopping and refuelling my car top the list. Cooking and eating food, are such wonderfully important parts of our lives, so why should the purchasing experience feel like a punishment?