Today’s consumer expects experience, orientation, and service – which should continue beyond the brick-and-mortar store. This makes the connection between online and offline more crucial than ever. The socialPALS platform is, therefore, a decisive building block in Weber’s marketing strategy. Andreas Flügel reports on how the barbecue specialist uses it to centrally manage retail campaigns to support the sales partners and distribute them regionally.
Andreas, please tell us something about yourself and what you do at Weber-Stephen!
I’m in my 19th year at Weber, so I’ve been involved in and shaped the development of Weber in Germany from the beginning. Today, as Sales Manager Specialized Dealers, I am responsible for the specialized retailers and the area sales force.
You have been using socialPALS since 2021 to supply your retailers with high-quality campaign content continuously. The current spring campaign has also already begun. Why have you permanently integrated this form of automated retail marketing into your communications concept?
We know consumers were already changing their behavior and becoming more digital “before Corona,” but a fundamental transformation has occurred, especially during the pandemic. This cannot be stopped or reversed. This makes it all the more important to know the target groups precisely and, above all, to address them specifically.
This targeting accuracy is only possible digitally. Especially with region targeting through socialPALS, our stationary retailers can generate digital visibility even if they do not have an online store or social media account. This support is essential to us!
Weber is and remains loyal to its specialist retailers. You've now run more than 20 campaigns on our platform. What was the goal of the previous campaigns, and how much internal effort did you put into marketing to get them off the ground? Did socialPALS save you time and effort compared to "classic" retail marketing?
With the previous campaigns, we aimed to make our specialist dealers visible and bring the right customers into their stores – who would then possibly purchase a barbecue. The effort for us was relatively low. I can’t measure the exact time required – however, I believe that a billboard or TV campaign would mean significantly more effort for us and the wastage there would be enormously high.
How difficult is it to motivate your retail partners to participate? Is the "online marketing" module accepted as an integration into the sales concept? What role does the sales force play here in activating the retail network?
Many of our retailers have looked at the topic and are on board again or for the first time in 2023. However, there is still a lot of skepticism, probably due to ignorance or emotion. If I’m not digitally active, I’ll hardly notice the advertising. But most consumers are, so visibility is generally a given.
Regarding these or other issues, we rely heavily on our field sales force, which discusses these topics in joint dialog with retailers. Most retailers have had good experiences and continue to rely on socialPALS.
Participation in socialPALS campaigns and the playout of the turnkey content calendar is confirmed by each retail partner after one-time registration via 1-Click. Are there also particularly active retailers who are taking a closer look at the platform and planning (additional) postings or advertising budget, for example?
So far, this has been the exception rather than the rule. Most of our retailers tend to rely on the competence of socialPALS and place the control in the hands of the brand and the platform. In our view, this is the right way to gain experience.
Were the campaigns successful? What factors do you use to measure the success of digital sales promotions? Were you able to generate helpful learnings - for example, which channels/formats are best suited for the advertised product?
Measuring success in this format is difficult. We in Sales (retailers and Weber) always measure success in terms of sales. Of course, this cannot necessarily be derived from the playout of such a campaign.
What we can see, however, are the data and facts about how many consumers have seen the advertising and, at best, interacted with it. From our point of view, this number in relation to the costs is a success factor that we cannot make as transparent and efficient in any other medium.
We learn from each campaign and adjust as necessary. To give two examples: Video usually generates more attention than images, and Google often has more relevance than Facebook.
What challenges do you currently see both for Weber as a brand and for your retail partners? Have multiple crises such as the pandemic, the war, or even the ongoing supply chain issues had a lasting impact on the industry? Have the requirements for local marketing also changed fundamentally as a result?
The challenges are multifaceted and complex. Supply chains are still not functioning as usual, and war and inflation are causing purchasing restraint. The latter poses an enormous challenge for retailers and for us. However, waiting is not an option for us – instead, we invest a great deal in early purchase incentives. – instead, we invest a great deal in early purchase incentives. – instead, we are investing heavily in early purchase incentives.
For example, we are playing our spring launch over seven weeks with 42 grills, to which consumers can add a free pizza stone after registering. Here, we’re asking our retailers to be part of the campaign, create visibility, and do so in the most targeted way possible. So yes, the requirements for local marketing have definitely changed permanently.
How can socialPALS as a trade marketing platform support you in mastering these challenges (even better)?
I think that together we need to explain a little more about the “Regio-Targeting” system and what advantages and opportunities it brings. We have already started integrating the topic “Marketing with socialPALS” (purely as information) into our e-learning platform. Perhaps we can make this even more interactive in the future.
How do you see the future of stationary retail in the context of the market power of the big online players? Does the retail trade still have a chance if it invests in digital measures in good time, for example? Do end customers still want to shop at retail stores?
The market researchers give it an unequivocal YES – and we at Weber see it that way, too. But: the consumer expects an experience, orientation, and service – which must not stop in the retail store. The real link between online and offline is becoming more important than ever. Being able to take the sales experience home with you digitally is, for example, a project that we are currently implementing with a partner and offering to retailers. Without digital visibility, consumers will perceive over-the-counter retail less and less.
What was your personal experience with socialPALS? Do you have any suggestions?
My experience was excellent. Together, we should be listening to our customers. If we use customer feedback, we can target the campaigns more effectively, bringing even more potential consumers into the brick-and-mortar stores because these have a future if they are positioned correctly.
Voices from the retail sector:
We have already participated in several Weber campaigns. The socialPALS team has always supported us dependably, was always available or returned our calls, and implemented change requests promptly. The team is highly competent and helpful.
muff haushalt AG, Sissach
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