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Asda is using social media to drive sales and get closer to consumers

Published:  11 October, 2013

Asda is maximising the value of social media, according to its chief marketing officer Stephen Smith.

Speaking at the 2013 IGD Convention Smith said social media can intersect and influence brands, trust and loyalty.

Smith said social media wasn't complex but should be focused on communication and "having a real conversation with customers" rather than disruption and selling.

"You have to get into the psyche of customers to build long-term loyalty," he said.

Smith said if Asda made a social media post, which was commercial, it had to involve at least 10 customer interactions because "people don't like to be sold to".

Smith told delegates they need to embrace becoming social organisations but it was a customer-led environment, not a one-way street.

Smith said Asda was harnessing its colleague website, The Green Room, by allowing staff to comment on company issues, collaborate and work to improve the business. 

It takes its inspiration from social platforms, he said.

Smith said Asda aimed to help shoppers in straightened economic times. The supermarket's Income Tracker put the level of household discretionary income at £160 a week and has showed no real improvement.

Shoppers have low real incomes, less quality time and are leading more stressful lives, he said. 


According to Smith, retailers can help remove that burden, solve problems and find solutions for customers and families. 

Asda is using social media to do that, said Smith, but it must have utility.

"Customers are extremely savvy - they expect products and services to be really useful, helpful and provide real value," he said. 

Smith said Asda is now showing its customers how they can spend less money with the supermarket by helping them find recipes to match products they already have in their store cupboards. 

Asda's shopping app, meanwhile, enables shoppers to manage their budgets and can help shoppers trade down to the lowest priced basket or trade up.

"Solutions and utility like this will build loyalty for the long term," said Smith.

Asda is also involving shoppers in the marketing of its Chosen by You range by encouraging posts on social media, using the Chosen by Me hashtag. These are now being turned into communication at the shelf and on packaging as well as fed through to product managers, creating a dialogue.

"If you are hanging on to the idea you solely own and manage your brand you don't," said Smith. "Customers will determine the value and utility of your brand."