Lessons from the deli counter

By Ed Bowler
April 2020

Who knew my penchant for Wensleydale would lead me to chatting about customer experiences? Not me.

Think back to being seven years old. Or eight. Even ten. Basically, a time when you were still young enough to get dragged to the supermarket for the weekly food shop and every aisle meant nothing more than a trolley’s racetrack. Still do that? You do you…

I digress.

What I remember from those days, is that every store seemed to offer some kind of experience. Take for instance the free tasters being handed out on the deli counter (always a personal fav). It was something that was memorable, got brands engaging with their customers and importantly – it wasn’t a transactional relationship.

As the internet became a warm, pixelated new home for many businesses, the kind of experiences we were used to seeing became less and less. No more free cheese? Damn you, e-commerce.

A convenience culture meant brands weren’t wasting their energy on experiential campaigns. Why bother when fewer people are walking through the doors, right? A whopping big wrong, actually.

Getting customers through the door compared to online means they’ll spend more, engage more, stay with you longer, and feel more emotionally attached, fact.

Okay it’s not a fact, but it’s pretty damn likely.

And it’s only taken until now for brands to realise that regardless of your heart’s desire appearing at the click of a trackpad, the people behind those purchases are still human beings, who want human interactions.

That’s all well and good for those businesses that have a door for people to walk through, but what about those that are purely domain dominators?

I’m not saying we should regress back to the days of pre-social media, where the high streets were the hubs of communities rather than your newsfeed. Instead, creating experiences can bring the impact to your social media presence that’s needed to make you stand out. In a world where weak messages are being drowned out by the people making serious noise, it’s important to be bold and produce experiential content to get those fingers stoppin’.

In turn, physical experiences create that buzz and excitement that people want to talk about. And where do they go to do that? Exactly. It’s easy to assume that getting creative on social media means you have to get creative on social media. Experiential marketing is all about thinking outside of the box (or screen, if you will).

So, whether you’re bringing a tangible experience to the table, ora virtual one. It all links back to stimulating real emotion. Give something positive and meaningful to your customers rather than rambling to them about how amazing you are. Because if you do that, they’ll be wanting to get to know you anyway.

Oh, and supermarkets if you’re reading, bring back the free cheese.