Off of the back of the recession, the UK economy is beginning to recover and this spells good news for Britain’s high street. Several companies however, are not fully out of the woods; and increasingly choosy consumers are forcing businesses – both large and small – to evolve, or perish. The here and now is more important than ever for various companies to recognize the various strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that face their business.
Tesco is a household name, it’s safe to say that 99.9% of people in the UK recognize the brand, or have shopped there at some point in their lives. Yet, the past couple of years have seen them struggle with the changing attitudes of customers. This year not only has their market share fallen, but the increasingly smaller middle ground of the supermarket sector has seen Waitrose (of the John Lewis Partnership) and Aldi gain more of a share. Their supermarkets were criticised due to the “clinical” feel they gave off, with some labelling the products and packaging as “cheap and shabby”. What’s more, they tried to move into the Chinese and US markets, with little success. Financial estimates predict that Tesco’s American iteration, “Fresh and Easy” will only just manage to break even in 2013. It is in this difficult climate that Tesco, earlier this year, decided to undergo a £1bn re-brand and marketing campaign to present itself as a warmer, more contemporary store to match customer feedback and desires. Their “Love Every Mouthful” advertising campaign first appeared on our television screens in late July with the aim of promoting the enjoyment of every day food and being perceived as a more laid back, personal supermarket. What’s more, they are focusing on making their supermarkets a “space for the community”, with various Yoga classes, a brand new coffee shop and a Giraffe restaurant included in their new concept store in Watford. It does of course go without saying, that the horse-meat scandal in January forced almost every food store-front – large or small – to evolve. With that in mind, Tesco’s advertising campaign focused on the good, fresh nature of their produce in comparison to other supermarkets. Thus far, it is too early to tell whether their re-brand will bear any fruits, but this Winter will definitely be a true test as to whether it has worked.
It has never been more important for businesses to be proactive in evolving their business, by recognizing the latest trends, understanding customer’s needs and reacting at a moments notice to minute changes in the market. After the JD Sports takeover of Blacks Outdoor Retail Ltd there was a renewed focus on revamping the struggling outdoor-wear chain. They replaced their exasperated looking stores with a fresher image, modelling different sections on the particular activity that they represent – a simple chain that works wonders on the eye. What’s more, they focused on selling to families, in order to try and differentiate themselves from other rivals and avoid what Chief Executive Julia Reynolds called a store filled with “testosterone fueled images”, stating that ” the outdoors is a family pursuit”. This is smart; through their re-branding they are not only drawing new customers into a fresh looking shop, but also getting, say, an avid rock climber and father of three, to bring in his entire family; potentially opening up the store to a huge new customer base. Just because you’re a huge, well established business doesn’t mean you have to stop innovating.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change” – Charles Darwin
Even small businesses can evolve in order to respond to customer demands, there has never been a better time to reflect upon how you’re doing things. Does our brand look tired and grey? Have the growing needs of consumers changed to the point where it could drastically affect our sales? These are the sorts of questions people should be asking themselves. Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks, especially where brands and appearances come into play, sometimes not all of these risks pay off, but where evolving your business is concerned you only need to get one thing really right to completely change the course of your company, product or service. Both Tea Monkey and Nom Foods are these kinds of businesses, they have recognized true gaps in the market and filled them perfectly, along with their fresh looks and big prospects. The question on everybody’s mind, however, is:
What’s going to be the next big thing?