Client: Boxer Superstores
Category: Restaurants, Fast Food, Grocery Stores
Country: South Africa
Boxer Superstores faced tough competition in South Africa’s grocery store market, and needed to gain awareness and increase sales among its low- to middle-income customers during a difficult economic time. To achieve this, it created the Boxer Super Shopper Show, which allowed shoppers who bought specific products to enter a sweepstakes for prizes including cars and cash.
While the show actually ran on TV, which created excitement and awareness, mobile was used to target customers and provided the means for them to enter the competition. Boxer had run a similar campaign a year before, but wanted to double the number of entries. As most of the target market has mobile phones, but not smartphones, the company decided to use an African-born messaging technology, USSD, to communicate directly with customers and to accept their entries, as it had in 2013.
With twenty-five supermarket chains in South Africa, grocery stores are fighting to get their message out and drive shoppers into their stores. Also, since there are over 70 printed leaflets advertising specials every week, how can an individual chain grab the shopper’s attention?
Boxer is perfectly positioned to service low- to mid-income shoppers from urban and rural areas across South Africa and it created the Boxer Super Shopper Show to reach them. The predominant objectives of the campaign and sweepstakes were brand awareness and sales, which Boxer particularly wanted to stimulate during January and February, which is a difficult time of year for retailers and customers alike. It was hoped the initiative would give more value to shoppers and also attract people who shopped less regularly at Boxer to fulfill their shopping needs there. The brand also wanted to reinforce Boxer’s brand perception of being the low price champion.
The 2013 campaign received just under 54,000 entries over 85 days, or 634 entries per day. The previous effort involved only one Boxer supplier. The new effort was to drive real sales growth for a number of suppliers on selected product lines at different times of the month, boosting their exposure in stores and with customers.
The mobile use of Boxer’s customers differs from many users in other countries. Seventy-two percent of its target has cell phones, but 70% of those are not smartphones. In fact, the majority of South Africans cellphones cannot browse the web and only have access to technologies like SMS, voice and USSD. Therefore, Boxer used USSD rather than an app. It is very familiar to the target market, as they use it for daily essentials such as topping up airtime, sending Please Call Me’s and for mobile banking.
USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), was first commercialised in South Africa by Vodacom in 2004. It is a menu-based service that allows bi-directional text-based communication between a user and the service provider's computers, and it works with all phones in South Africa and with all network carriers. The connection remains open, allowing a two-way exchange of a sequence of data, making USSD more responsive than services that use SMS. It is a tool with unlimited potential for marketers communicating to this target.
Typically, the target market uses public transportation, and is willing to go by foot to find better prices. Price is a cornerstone of their decision-making, as is how to use their cell phones as cost effectively as possible. Boxer knew it had to provide them with a cost-effective call to action on their mobile to help them save.
The Boxer Super Shopper Show leveraged the glitz and glamour of TV by using a game show format hosted by a lively, friendly host who advised viewers about what they needed to do to enter that month’s competition.
The sweepstakes reached out to the audience on media channels they were very familiar with, like TV, radio and pamphlets or broadsheets. Above the line media like TV captured the audience’s attention with its reach, and the mobile phone became the remote control for the customer, allowing them to engage with the brand. Not only did Boxer use above-the-line media to invite shoppers to enter, but it also reported back on the winners to add credibility to the campaign, and drive further entries.
Messaging let consumers know they could win Boxer Gift Cards or a Ford Figo 1.4 car, one of which would be given away every month for three months. To be able to enter, customers had to buy any three items containing the special Boxer Super Shopper Show logo. If they had done so, their till slip (receipt) would remind them to enter the sweepstakes via their mobile phone.
The mobile campaign worked by making it easy for customers to use a unique till slip code, which they would input into their phone and which was validated via USSD. In fact, Boxer’s till slips were redesigned to highlight the USSD number and make it clear what entrants could win.
The campaign ran at strategic times of the month, when customers had just been paid. Different products were featured during the course of the campaign to keep shoppers interested, targeting them when they had available money to spend.
Show promos not only touted the program, but also promoted the grand prize winners each month via a pre-recorded commercial on popular TV stations to ensure reach into the targeted consumer market. It was also publicized on all Boxer leaflets, in print ads, in digital and via public relations. Those efforts drove great campaign awareness. It was difficult to use mobile media to invite participants to enter, as banner ads would have required WAP access.
The brand did, however, reach out to Boxer’s existing customer base via SMS messaging with an active link in the SMS to dial the Boxer USSD line to enter. The first question on the USSD menu was to ask each customer to enter his or her till slip number, so Boxer could automatically locate them by province, region, and store -- and validate purchases of the selected goods on promotion that week. Boxer also asked their name, so each shopper could be addressed personally going forward.
Approximately five percent of the budget went to mobile. However, since all media platforms available to Boxer were used, it is not a fair reflection of the investment -- TV, radio and print are all more expensive. Despite the low percentage devoted to mobile, it was central the effort’s success. It was how Boxer engaged shoppers and had them enter the sweepstakes, instead of the traditional till slip entry box system.
Some people believe that technology will change Africa; but in many ways Africa is changing technology: technologies like pre-paid airtime, Please Call Me’s and USSD were all born in Africa. It is these technologies that Boxer needed to use, made by Africans for Africans. Boxer embraces technology.
The results were magical:
This campaign has further highlighted the need to continue to embrace mobile technology. Engaging with a customer outside of a Boxer store adds to an ongoing sustainable relationship. Boxer will continue to embrace the symbiotic relationship it has with its customers, continuing to let them use cellphones to enter sweepstakes.