Virgin is a brand that consistently takes our daily activities and finds ways to make them better. Whether it’s ‘Rock Star Service’ on Virgin Holidays or superfast broadband on Virgin Media. Yes they don’t always get it right, and of course each element of the VIrgin brand is a separate entity in its own right, but the overall Virgin approach is spectacular.
Now, the Virgin brand is shaking up the banking industry. Virgin Money has been going for some time of course but it has been an online bank, not a high street one. This week, they announced that they are hitting the high street. How are they doing that you may ask? Have they bought out another high street bank and are giving its branches a Virgin makeover? No. Oh, so are they opening new branches with lots of red colour and branded staff? Nope. Are they opening branches at all? Nope. Instead they’re opening a range of customer lounges – places where Virgin Money customers can access free Wifi, grab a coffee, play with iPads, and generally relax. Oh yes, and be bombarded with Virgin Money marketing messages and branding. But, hey, it’s amazing what people will do for a free coffee.
This is a great way for a brand to really engage with its customers. To create an atmosphere, a brand experience, that puts customers into the best possible state of mind to be sold financial services to. They’re removing the stress, worry and overall intimidating nature of most high street bank branches and making people feel at home, to have fun and to feel good about their finances. It’s genius. I already want to be a Virgin Money customer.
They’re starting with four centres in London, Edinburgh, Norwich and Manchester and intend to open 70 bank ‘branches’ over the next five-year period.
This approach could herald the start of a new high street environment. I seriously hope more brands take this on board and consider what their customer experience currently is and how it can be improved. And for business to business models? Well, the office is one area to consider, but perhaps a stronger place to look is your online environment. Sit back, hook up to your wifi, sip your coffee and consider…”how are my customers feeling about my brand right now?”.
To read more about Virgin’s new lounges, check out this link here
For years the leading supermarkets have been battling on price. They’ve all taken slightly different approaches (Tesco’s “Every Little Helps”, ASDA focusing on it’s price guarantee (and who can forget the adverts with the bum slapping??), Morrisons with its family value) but they’re hasn’t been an outright winner as it will always depend on what mix of goods you buy as to which supermarket is cheaper. You can’t get around that. It’s also how they make their money, by pulling you in on cheap deals in the hope you’ll spend a lot more of peripherals.
Sainsbury’s has tried to avoid that in the main, and has focused on quality instead. The result being that most people view Sainsbos as expensive (me included). They’re latest marketing campaign – the £50 weekly shop – is therefore quite interesting, as it’s based on price but in a way that really adds value to their customers.
Quite simply, Sainsbury’s suggests a meal planner for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day for 7 days for a family of four. They give you the recipes online. It’s simple stuff to make and it allows for planning, teaching people how to be more efficient with their ingredients. In essence it takes a whole lot of stress and hassle out of the equation. To make it even easier, at a click of a button you can buy all the ingredients for your weekly shop online via the Sainsbury’s website. You can easily adapt it too if you have some of the ingredients in already for instance.
What I love about this marketing approach is that Sainsburys has really thought about what their customer base needs, then found a way to deliver it to them in a really simple, easy-to-understand way. This is something that all major brands (and smaller ones!) should be thinking about – what do my customers want? How can I deliver that? How can I make it as easy as possible?
By taking any difficulty out of the process, and turning your weekly shop into a one click operation they will also gain more and more control over their customers’ shopping, making it more and more difficult to switch to another store. I don’t think they’re quite there yet though, as I printed off their shopping list rather than ordering it online and have promptly gone to ASDA to buy the various elements. I still have to keep revising the Sainsbury’s website to get the recipe details, so maybe they’ll hook me yet…