Danes are renowned for our haggling skills. Danes love a good deal. As a result, retail has traditionally been all about price competition. Denmark’s largest discount retailer, Netto, was established in 1981 and has built its success on low prices and good quality foods. But in 2016 Netto received consumer insights that caused a brand strategy shift. For the first time in history, Danish consumers said they chose their retailer first and foremost based on the retailer’s values and purpose rather than price (which still came in second, but prior always a certain number one). So how could Netto keep its place as leading discount retailer in Denmark, keeping its base of bargain-hunters with price communication while stopping the potential customer drain by showing its values and purpose clearer? To help solve that paradox Netto awarded the team at Grey Public the reputation assignment in 2016 after a competitive pitch.
The challenge of any leading company regardless of sector is to keep being number one. Netto was no exception. Therefore, the main challenge for Netto was how to balance its communication of continued hardcore price communication for its steady base of bargain-hunters, while starting new value-driven communication and branding efforts to protect and attract key another segment of its customer base. This was made even more difficult, as Denmark had turned into a battlefield for discount retailers with retail chains from Norway and Germany and local chains too fought for the Danish family’s attention.
Our recommendation to Netto was to develop a strong focus on citizenship and use it as a tool to communicate its values. We created a new purpose for Netto to serve as a platform for all branding activities. The new purpose was created after in-depth interviews with management across Netto’ markets in Germany, Denmark and Poland. Once the new purpose was implemented, we profiled the key target audiences and their behavioural drivers for shopping and in life in general.
We used the consumer drivers to map towards Netto’s offerings and society topics and developed a range of brand concepts that using a mix of digital, PR, in-store activation, partnerships and influencer marketing would form an omni-channel reputation management framework that would deliver the reputational change that Netto needed in order to keep hold of its spot as the leading Danish discount retailer.
The core building blocks of our reputation strategy were use the citizenship topics of equal access to organic foods, reducing plastic footprint, reducing access to tobacco and alcohol for youth and minimising food waste.
We have developed and executed many large scale campaigns for Netto since 2016 among others launching Denmark’s first deposit scheme plastic bag, collaborating with TV2 and WWF to educate Danes on the plastic pollution of our nature, set focus on the organic farmers of Denmark with Årets Økolog and helped limited access to tobacco in Netto and help create a new way of fighting food waste by helping socially vulnerable Danes during Christmas. And much, much more.
The many initiatives and campaigns contributed to Netto moving from being number 33 to being number 18 on the Sustainable Brand Index in three years. The Sustainable Brand Index measures and analyses how sustainability affects branding, communication and business development. Netto has also improved on key indicators within reputation tracker RepTrek and in 2019 alone we have help generate more than 100 million in earned media reach. Perception in general is on the rise and Netto is still the number of discount retailer in Denmark.