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Copycat Coles
October 18, 2009, 5:49 pm
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It’s becoming a game of ‘spot the difference’.

There’s some mentality that the moment your main competitor does something, you’ve got to do what they did.

When that something is ‘make lots of money and use it to completely change the layout of their stores’, it’s a bit more difficult.

One, it’s expensive. Two, they’re going to have a massive headstart on you.

So sometime when Woolworths was having their consultation with Hans Hulsbosch and started rolling out their new corporate identity, Coles was having a chat (with McKinsey, if the rumours are true) about its own identity crisis.

Lo and behold, a new store layout!

This humble observer would like to present to you what’s new, what looks suspiciously similar and where Coles might be breaking from the mould.

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Things are better when you do them together
August 3, 2009, 10:13 am
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The Australian supermarket playground is notoriously small. Woolies and Coles are the big bullies, currently at a stalemate for who can build the biggest sandcastle.

So if you can’t win on your own…get a partner.

I don’t mean another shopping chain – the ACCC is already turning some of its attention to some of the tactics used to keep smaller players like Aldi out.

No, I’m referring to the recent ads which seem to be co-financed by Woolworths and Continental (Unilever).



The ads themselves are largely unremarkable; I couldn’t find them online. Essentially, there’s a product demo for Continental, followed by a message that you can find the products at Woolworths.

++ In a recession, particularly when you’ve just undergone high capital investment, partnering up might help stretch that ad budget further.

-+ Sharing ad time might confuse viewers, or lose the message completely. On the other hand, it’s more subtle and modest.

— As a retailer, promoting a household brand could encourage consumers to buy it…elsewhere.

Neither *seem* to be short on ad spend, with Continental’s ‘three-thirtyitis’ campaign** (DDB work I believe) and the re-done Woolworths ‘fresh food people’.

Perhaps Woolies feels that it needs to raise its publicity, since rival Coles backed winning horse ‘Masterchef’. This campaign certainly takes a similarly indirect approach, though whether it has helped flailing Coles remains to be seen.

How's that for co-branding...I didn't even have to edit the colours

How's that for co-branding...I didn't even have to edit the colours

++ Coles should benefit from the greater opportunities that arise from TV shows, such as recruiting judge George for product development.

— Two’s company, three’s a crowd. Just from viewing the show, you can tell that Coles isn’t the only organisation that put money behind Masterchef.

[I realise that I always seem to be commenting on Woolworths and what they’re doing, not Coles. Perhaps that tells you something…]

**I suspect that some of the ad budget has come from lowering production costs, if the Pasta Flakes Pasta & Sauce is anything to go by.

Woolworths: Spot the differences
March 2, 2009, 11:17 am
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According to the Weekend Australian, Woolies has been recording excellent revenues these last couple of months, due in part to the $1 billion which has been spent on new store layouts over the last 6 months.

So when I had my first opportunity to visit the new Woolies store that opened up here a month ago, I decided to have a little game of ‘spot the difference’ to see what the big deal was.

These are just my impressions – if you’ve spotted something extra, give me a yell.

So what’s new?

As some of you know I was a little skeptical with the new designs, but I’d have to say congratulations to Hulsbosch for the new store layouts.

In short:

  • ‘Fresher’ – less clutter
  • Strategic presentation
  • Products placed by thought process

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Woolie brand
September 1, 2008, 11:52 pm
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Surely brand isn’t just about customers, but about ALL of your stakeholders?

Just watched the ‘4 Corners’ special report on the power wielded by supermarket giants and the ramifications it can have for suppliers, deliverers, and other businesses in the community. It really made me want to get out there and support small business. But emotions aside, there’s plenty of branding issues…

The supermarket giants, Woolworths and Coles, are definitely here to stay. They have buying power. They have economies of scale. They have the kind of brand equity which makes them very important to everybody they contract with.

But if the report is correct, they’re forming contracts and not relationships. If the Fresh Food People are starting to having negative relations with the Fresher Food People supplying them the Fresh Food in the first place, will it mean we lose out on quality? And how Fresh can the Food be if it’s been trucked across the country and then not unloaded for another day?

Slightly off the topic, I’m surprised that legislation allows profit losses caused by loss-leader pricing strategies to be borne entirely by the suppliers…is that fair? Especially when most of the benefits from extra custom will go to the retailer?

Anyway, the report definitely has some eye-opening points and raises a lot of issues…don’t know if anything will come of it, but at the very least there should be some PR fallout. (No doubt Coles is thinking, “Thank God we just reshuffled and rebranded.”) You can check it out online here.