Asda uses social media to engage consumers

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

Soft sell: Asda is using social media to encourage consumer engagement and drive product innovation, rather than as a direct sales tool, said its chief marketing officer Stephen Smith
Soft sell: Asda is using social media to encourage consumer engagement and drive product innovation, rather than as a direct sales tool, said its chief marketing officer Stephen Smith

Related tags: Social media, Sales

Asda is using social media to encourage consumer engagement and drive its latest product innovation, rather than as a direct sales tool because consumers don’t like it being used to sell to them, according to the retailer’s chief marketing officer Stephen Smith.

It should be used to capture the best ideas and solutions from both customers and employees, covering both new ways of doing things and the use of new technology in a collaborative way, he said.

“There is no doubt that social media is changing how we communicate,​” said Smith, speaking at the annual convention of grocery think tank IGD in London last month. “But it’s not actually that complex. It’s about engaging and building relationships, it’s not just about selling … it’s about having a real conversation, listening a learning from your customers and from your colleagues.”

Smith stressed that as a brand, the goal is about using social media to develop long-term loyalty.

‘People don’t like to be sold to’

“One rule that we have at Asda on the social media team is that if our team wants to make any post that has any commercial action, that wants to sell anything, we have to do at least 10 interactions with our customers that are simply to entertain, to engage or to create dialogue. The reality is people don't like to be sold to and they never really have.”

Both retailers and manufacturers needed to change the way they communicate with consumers, he added. “We need to embrace becoming social organisations … marketing can't just be considered a one-way street; it’s customer led, not business led.”

Customer-led innovation

He spoke of encouraging “customer-led innovation” ​which Asda is using to drive its decision making. A year or so ago Asda used it to identify five consumer needs in grocery shopping: health and wellness, saving time, providing inspiration for meal planning, minimising forgotten items and bringing back ‘me time’. These are now used as “guiding principles” ​in all its new developments.

Meanwhile, speaking at the same conference, the IGD’s chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said food and drink manufacturers should look to the latest technology to provide consumers with confidence that the products they buy have been produced as ethically as possible.

Click here to watch our exclusive video​ with Denney-Finch.

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