Woolworths fresh food billboardWill Woolworth’s suffer a backlash from cynical consumers?

Woolworths, the ‘Fresh Food People’ has recently become, the ‘Australian Fresh Food People’. A small change in the wording and backed up by some clever television advertising with a catchy jingle, demonstrating Woolworths is supporting Australian farmers. Not a bad idea at the time when it was conceived, and perhaps differentiates Woolworths between major rival, Coles.

But due to recent reports in the print and television news media, alleging some supermarket suppliers are bullied by major retailers due to the ongoing price war between Coles and Woolworths. Because of this negative publicity, Woolworths ’Australian’ advertising campaign has potential to backfire badly on Woolworths.

So, is there any truth in the claim that the major supermarkets are ‘screwing suppliers out of their profits’ or is it as Coles Managing Director Ian McLeod says, ‘I just don’t think it bears out with the facts’.

Or, is it simply a beat up by the media?

Well, it doesn’t really matter…

The problem here is, people will associate the Woolworths ‘Australian campaign’ with ‘screwing suppliers’, and regardless if it’s true or not, it puts Woolworths in a negative light. Net result, fewer customers, less turnover and less profit, and that aint good.

The defecation will hit the rotating oscillator, so to speak.

Woolworths needs to take charge of this situation, and if they are clever, they can use it to their advantage.

There are two things Woolworths can do:

  • Drop the emphasis on Australian, get back to basics of retailing (good customer service, value for money etc). Build the business around the unmet needs of the customer and use this as the basis of the advertising.
  • Prove the claim: Every salesperson knows when a customer has a doubt, you must prove what you’re saying is true…not just say it. Woolworths should then show by whatever means, they genuinely are supporting Australian farmers. IS… Malcolm the farmer, Matt the picker, Harold the truckie believable or just make-believe?