My SPAR: a Customer-Centric Re-Positioning Success.

What retail store do you love the most? Why do you love it so? Is there pride in the relationship that you have with that store?

For the customers of South African brand, SPAR, there is not only pride but also ownership.

SPAR is a national food retailer that comes in three varieties: SPAR is for neighborhood shopping, KWIKSPAR for convenience shopping and SUPERSPAR for bulk-shopping. Because of "voluntary trading," each individual SPAR retailer not only has the option to participate in SPAR's trading power, but they can also source goods from local traders.

Though there are 800 SPAR stores across South Africa, this ability to trade locally gives each store the power to personalize its retail experience to the needs of the community that surrounds them. Enabling each store to learn more about the customers it serves has allowed SPAR, as a brand, to build relationships and engage with its communities to actively serve them on a deeper level.

As a major repositioning effort for the SPAR brand began in 2010, it became evident to SPAR's strategic and creative partner, TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris Durban, that the authentic truth that made SPAR different from its competitors (Woolworths or Pick n Pay for example), was this personalized retail experience. The experience paid off in both pride and ownership of the SPAR brand on an individual level and SPAR customers had positive stories by the hundreds that they were more than willing to share.

"Well, at my SPAR on the corner..." customers would say in focus groups and research discussions, repeatedly explaining what made their SPAR unique and special to them. How SPAR had helped them, their family or community in a way that only "their SPAR" could do.

Sydwell, a South African entrepreneur, had one such story. Take a look:
TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris Durban and their client SPAR knew that the best way move into 2011 was to embrace this ownership with a customer-centric repositioning. TV commercials such as "Sydwell," above, bring these brand-building stories of intimate SPAR-community partnership to life. Additional retail spots, such as "Facebook" and "Loverboy," below, share quick customer stories that allow SPAR to highlight and push product as well. 

All post-production work for SPAR commercials is done in-house with the TBWA\Group\Durban by TEQUILA's Motion brand. 

SPAR's strategic and creative partners at TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris Durban have also built an active social media presence on the My SPAR Facebook page, which is manned during weekday business hours, engaging more than 16,000 fans. Customers share stories, post accolades and air complaints (which are promptly directed to the appropriate customer service channel to be addressed). Most importantly, these customers who already feel they have an personal relationship with their local SPAR store, now feel they have an additional channel with which to engage with the SPAR brand. To be heard. To be celebrated. To be informed.

SPAR encourages individuals to share their "My SPAR" stories via Facebook with the potential pay-off of winning groceries (with one monthly winner) or even having their story be featured in the next My SPAR ad. Oodles of authentic SPAR customer experiences are shared openly with the brand. Browse them here. Contests to win additional prizes, such as cars, are also featured on both the Facebook page and the SPAR website home page. In fact, the SPAR website URL drives traffic in both directions. Take a look: click here

In additional to television and social media, the campaign communication channels are rounded out with print inserts and in-store point of sale materials. 

SPAR is one of those aforementioned 30+-year client relationships that TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris Durban has enjoyed, growing into additional client relationships with SPAR sister brands, TOPS (liquor) and Build it (home building). Because of the trust and partnership that TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris Durban and SPAR have fostered over the years, they were able to work together to mine for and leverage what is truly unique about the SPAR brand experience to be relevant and add value to its consumers in today's marketplace.

What do you think of the My SPAR campaign? If you are South African, do you "have a SPAR?" What's your story?

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