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How Canadian grocer Metro caters to brand loyal customers

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To build and retain a loyal following, Metro, Inc., a leading Canadian grocery chain operating 830 retail locations across Ontario and Quebec, makes customer-centricity its mantra. The company, leveraging customer insights of its joint-venture partner dunnhumby, launched a customer-centric strategy that goes beyond a marketing campaign and into the fabric of the organization. Before his presentation at Retail’s BIG Show today, we spoke with Marc Giroux, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Metro, Inc. about what’s changing in the retail marketplace and what it takes to build customer loyalty. As we start off the year, what are a couple of the big issues or trends you see shaping the rest of 2013 for Metro and the retail industry as a whole? 

Marc Giroux, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Metro, Inc. In 2013, we’re likely to see an already competitive retail market become even more aggressive. Similar to other markets, Canada’s retail landscape has seen a lot of change in the past few years, not only in terms of competitive players but also in terms of consumer behavior and preferences. Differentiation and loyalty are becoming more critical, and for Metro, we see them as a critical focus to grow our business in the short- and long-term. Not only are consumers demanding greater value, they have the tools at their disposal to make more informed purchase decisions. Retail as an industry is rapidly evolving but there’s also an element of excitement for the year ahead because we’re seeing consumers get more engaged through technology. They are relying more on word-of-mouth and social media to drive their perception of a brand and determine where to shop, what to buy. To put it simply, consumers have the power! In 2013, the focus needs to be on truly delivering a connected, channel-less experience. It’s no longer enough to have a mobile app, a Facebook page or digital coupons - those tactics need to be tied to the same data, strategy and metrics within a system that allows you to learn what works and what doesn’t across the business. At Retail’s BIG Show, you’ll be discussing the Metro & Moi program, which you’ve called more than just a loyalty program. Tell us what you mean by that. Metro & Moi, or Metro & me, isn’t just a loyalty program, it’s a business strategy and a brand strategy. Metro’s executive team is committed to make this a reality, allowing customer centricity to drive all functions of the business and become a true core of our strategy as a business. Our new brand strategy is not only a marketing program but is also an internal rally cry to focus on our customers. Through Metro & Moi, we’re able to leverage customer data and insight to improve our commercial strategy, improve our pricing, assortment and promotional program to better meet the needs of our loyal customers. It also allows us to apply these insights to traditional media and new digital media to connect with consumers in new ways with authenticity and relevance. In addition, by leveraging dunnhumby’s global experience and best practices, we launched a “five customer promises” program and trained more than 55,000 store employees. The program gives employees specific benchmarks and tools to measure the customer experience in their store on a monthly basis and supports them in building plans to improve the areas with opportunities. What are the top one or two key things that have made the Metro & Moi program so successful? In a highly saturated loyalty market like Canada, at launch it was about building a program that was simple, engaging and truly rewarding for our customers. And we’ve accomplished that. A full 40% of households in our market are now members of the Metro & Moi program. In dunnhumby, we chose the right partner with the right capabilities that allowed us to realize that vision. It also allows us to keep our Metro & Moi members engaged via personalized offers and promotions that keep the program relevant and top-of-mind. Store employee engagement, at the launch and through our customer promises program has been critical. We also have the executive commitment to allow customer centricity to drive all functions of the business as the core of our business strategy. It’s everybody’s job to have the courage to take on the tough decisions, prioritize our efforts and work together to meet the specific needs of loyal Metro customers. For more insights from Metro and dunnhumby, check out Tuesday's session, How Metro Personalized Its Way to Growth, at Retail's BIG Show.