Digital Marketing Tactics of Tesco

1. Introduction

Tesco was started-up in 1919 by Jack Cohen, who entered this business by selling groceries. In 1920’s, it started selling its products, and by 1958, the company opened its first supermarket (History, n.d). The firm continued to grow exponentially. In 1990’s, it inaugurated its renowned marketing campaign known as ‘every little helps’, whereby the form emphasized on its ‘philosophy’ of helping customers through superior service (Young, 2007, pp. 184). The organization started marketing and selling through online channels in 2000’s (History, n.d.). In last few years, Tesco has launched some digital marketing tactics. For example, Tesco launched its club-card in 1995, however, in 2010, a mobile application was designed to facilitate the use of club-cards on smartphones (History, n.d.). The purpose of this report is to evaluate and propose two digital marketing tactics for Tesco. Furthermore, it proposes a step-by-step action plan to implement the digital marketing tactics and a contingency plan as well.

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Currently, Tesco is engaged in the following digital marketing activities:

  • Social media campaigns: In 2010’s, Tesco has been increasing its spending on advertising through digital channels. By promoting its products through Facebook and Twitter, Tesco tries to enhance customer engagement (Shields, 2010). However, Tesco’s social media marketing is slower as compared to Walmart (Moth, 2013), which shows room for improvement.
  • Digital Drive: In 2013, Tesco spent around 110m GPB on advertising trough traditional channels. However, this figure decreased to 77m GBP in 2015, while marking an increase in its spending on digital advertising (Vizard, 2016). However, ASDA’s digital marketing approach is better than Tesco, because it doesn’t focus on marketing food products majorly, rather emphasizes on promoting its brand image and values (Jennings, 2017).
  • Online competitions: Through its club cards, Tesco engages its customers via online competitions where customers have a chance to win products
  • Immersive digital experiences with a focus on virtual reality (Barlett, 2014).

2. Proposed Initiatives

Though Tesco has launched some effective digital marketing tactics in the past few years, this report suggests two proposed initiatives that should be taken by Tesco social media marketing and content marketing. Notably, Through-the-Line approach of marketing (TTL) encompasses the use of both Above-the-line and below-the-line marketing communication tools including internet, public relations, sales promotions, etc. for a 360-degree appeal, thereby leading to creating of both mass and personal appeal (Dietzel, 2010). As Tesco is already active on traditional mass mediums, this campaign will lead Tesco to take a TTL approach.  

2.1. Explanation and Rationale

The initiatives must be developed and implemented in a manner that they facilitate the customers for climbing the hybrid engagement ladder starting from awareness to advocacy (see figure-1). The hybrid engagement ladder is derived from the hierarchy of effects model, which spreads across cognitive, affective and conative stages (Weingarden, n.d.).  

Figure 1: Hybrid Engagement Model

By following the above-mentioned model, Tesco can increase the engagement levels of its target market. Awareness is the first step of the ladder, in which the customer becomes aware of a product/service or campaign. Awareness can be increased by use of both traditional mediums and social media. The second step is when customer seeks information and knowledge about the brand. It is important that Tesco send messages through social media that are relevant to customer needs. Catchy lines should be used here to attract customers so that they increase their knowledge about the offerings of the company. At next stage, content marketing plays its role. Ahmed, Musa and Harun (2016) mention that content marketing leads to increased brand health, which the authors refer as ‘evaluation from digital audiences about the brands and products’ (pp. 331). This step is followed by preferences, whereby customer develops a liking for the brand. To increase preference, Tesco should use both social media marketing and content marketing. Finally, the customer moves towards purchase and advocacy, which is also related to brand loyalty.

To make social media marketing campaign successful, Tesco should ensure that:

 (1). The advertisements focus on benefits that customers can gain through Tesco experience

(2).  The content must be relevant to customer needs

(3). The content should be popular among users

(4). Advertisements appear on different social media platforms.

These suggestions have been taken from a study conducted by Erdoğmuş and Çiçek ( 2012). The authors proposed that by ensuring these four considerations while developing social media campaign, a company can increase its brand loyalty.

To engage its audience through content marketing, Tesco can create a variety of content like recipes – which feature ingredients offered by Tesco; home décor – which incorporates some furniture and decoration items available at Tesco; personal grooming – which shows beauty and care products sold at Tesco; gardening, etc. Furthermore, Tesco should employ a content marketing framework based on 4S Model, i.e. Segmented, Searchable, Snackable and Shareable (Johnston, 2016).

  1. Segmented: Tailor the content according to needs of the target audience
  2. Make it easily searchable through use of tools
  3. Snackable: The content should be developed in a manner that can be easily understood and consumed. To make the content snackable. Tesco should use infographics, as it assists in both marketing and business development (Conner, 2017).
  4. Keep track of pieces that are shared and boost them. Tesco should use a variety of content types including blogs, videos, podcasts, E-newsletters, etc.

To engage customers deeply, Tesco should also facilitate user-generated content by posting questions and quizzes that allow customers to answer and participate. When customers will be directly involved at digital platforms of Tesco, they will feel more inclined to purchase the products they need from Tesco.

The use of social media marketing and content marketing are further justified because:

  • Social networks increase value through ranking content, sharing content and tipping points
  • Social media influences consumer behaviour. Mentioned that more than 80% of customers will try new food by recommendation from social media; furthermore, more than 70% of shoppers will probably shop from a new store, when recommended by someone from their social media network (Schneider, 2014).  
  • Three-fourth of customers perceive that as compared of websites, they feel more associated to a brand if they like it on Facebook (Why People ‘Like’ and ‘Unlike’ Brands on Facebook, 2012)
  • The Return on Investment of content marketing is fairly high, as compared to other marketing strategies (DeMers, 2017).
  • As content created for an audience lasts for a long time, content marketing yields result for a long period (DeMers, 2017).
  • Content marketing is less costly as compared to other forms of digital marketing (DeMers, 2017); on the other hand, its ROI is high and it offers returns for a long period. Hence, it is cost effective and offers increased value.

3. Target Audience:

Before developing target audience for the two initiatives, it is necessary to understand the target audience of Tesco. Being a super market, Tesco targets everyday people (Baker, 2012). Nonetheless, in its detailed segmentation, Tesco mentions its five key segments as pre-family, lower affluent families, higher affluent families, lower affluent post-families and higher affluent post-families. Both social media marketing and content marketing are targeted towards pre-families, lower affluent families and higher affluent families because the other two segments, i.e. higher affluent post-families and lower affluent post-families are highly inclined towards traditional media including Radio, Television and outdoor (Palmer, 2017). As this campaign is not targeting traditional mediums and other three segments are active users of social media and internet, it is reasonable to pre-families, lower affluent families and higher affluent families (Palmer, 2017)

4. SMART Objectives:

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely; it is designed to create clear goals (Richman, 2006). Following are three objectives of the above-mentioned digital campaign:

  • Increase sales of Tesco by 2% by the end of 2018
  • The Facebook page of Tesco has 2.4 Million followers (Tesco, n.d.). Its Twitter and Instagram have 532,000 and 191,000 followers. Though these numbers are higher than its near competitor, i.e. ASDA, this campaign aims to increase the following at these three platforms by 5% by the end of 2018
  • To increase the content Tesco creates at its website, blogs and social media pages by 10% by the end of 2018

5. Action Plan

The action plan has been developed in table-1:

Detailed ActivitiesWho will take these measures?When will they be taken?Where will the activities take place?
Hire 3 new employees for managing social media networks of Tesco  Human Resource Management team of TescoApril 1, 2018 – April 30, 2018Tesco headquarters in the UK
Hire 3 new employees (including 1 designer and 2 writers) for creating and the contentHuman Resource Management of TescoMarch 2018 – April 2018Tesco headquarters UK
Post 3-4 stories on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram per day  Social Media Management team of TescoMay 2018 – December 2018At social media platforms of Tesco
Promote Tesco’s offerings on the selected social mediums  Social Media Management team of TescoMay 2018 – December 2018At social media platforms of Tesco
Advertise Tesco’s products/brand at three selected social media platforms; launch a new digital advertisement every 10 dayDigital advertising team of TescoApril 2018-December 2018The advertisement shall be developed by in-house marketers and boosted on Tesco’s social media platform
Engage customers in 2 quizzes every week, and send a prize to a lucky winnerSocial Media Management team of Tesco; Local store managers will dispatch the prize; Delivering prize through Royal Mail service  May 2018 – December 2018At social media platforms; The prize shall be dispatched from local Tesco supermarket nearest to the winner
Post a new piece of content – including recipes, ideas for home décor, life-style related pieces, etc.- at Tesco’s website and blog 4 days a week    Content writers will write the content; Social media team will finalize the content and post it  May 2018 – December 2018        The content will be developed in Tesco headquarters and posted at its website and blogs  
Manage content on 3rd party platforms; update products pictures and descriptions regularlyDigital marketing team of TescoMay 2018 – December 2018Tesco headquarters and 3rd party platforms

6. Contingency Plan

It is necessary to develop a contingency plan for a marketing campaign, which can be used at Plan B, if the proposed plan fails to deliver the expected outcomes. Following contingency plans have been proposed:

  1. In social media marketing, it is possible that customers show a low participation rate by not commenting, liking and sharing the stories posted on social media platforms, thereby demonstrating lower preference across the hybrid ladder. In this case, Tesco’s management should engage customers by focusing more on visually engaging and appealing social media advertisements. It should launch a new digital advertisement once every week
  2. Regarding content marketing & Digital Marketing Tactics, Tesco’s consumers might show less interest in the recipes and pieces related to lifestyle. To counter this, Tesco should use email marketing, SEO marketing and influencer marketing strategies.
    Digital Marketing Strategy of Sports Club

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Barlett, E. (2014) ‘Virtual reality experience created for supermarket website’, Metro, 24 March. Available at: http://metro.co.uk/2014/03/24/virtual-reality-software-is-pretty-amazing-until-you-recreate-a-supermarket-shopping-experience-for-tesco-4677225/ (Accessed: 17 March 2018).

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Young, A. (2007) Profitable Marketing Communications: A Guide to Marketing Return on Investment. Kogan Page Publishers.

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