Supermarket social media: Co-op should do better
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Co-op is missing a beat when it comes to social media

By GlobalData Retail 22 Jul 2019 (Last Updated July 22nd, 2019 10:53)

When compared to Lidl (the supermarket with the most comparable market share), we can see that Lidl has four times as many Facebook likes, and twice as many Instagram and Twitter followers than the Co-op.

Co-op is missing a beat when it comes to social media

Co-op’s quest of “attracting a younger generation” is an understandable one, given the drive towards convenience by that demographic. But, to do so at a quicker pace the Co-op will need to enhance its social media presence in an area in which it tangibly lags behind its competitors.

Co-op is lagging behind its competitors in social media engagement

Admittedly, the importance of social media in retail is a hot topic. For some – such as cosmetic retailer Lush – it has become an unquantifiable chore, with little apparent benefit. With less peer-led sectors, such as food & grocery, the benefits are even more questionable. Although there are the odd few exceptions – such as the M&S’s Love Sausage for Valentine’s Day – social media in retail almost exclusively refers to content on beauty and clothing products. Thus for supermarkets, working out if there is any value added from a properly maintained social media presence is a challenging calculation.

But it is possible to benchmark a retailer’s social media presence against its competitors. The table below provides a brief overview of the largest supermarkets and their ranks on each social media platform, adjusted for market share (it would be unfair to expect the likes of Lidl to generate the same online interest as Tesco, given its market share is about five times smaller).


Numerous conclusions can be drawn from the table above, not least Iceland’s impressive engagement score (supported by greater social media awareness on environmental issues, a key pillar of Iceland’s ethos). But given its desire for an image renaissance with the under 40s, the Co-op will be disappointed to be at the bottom of the table. When compared to Lidl (the supermarket with the most comparable market share), we can see that Lidl has four times as many Facebook likes, and twice as many Instagram and Twitter followers than the Co-op.

As previously mentioned, social media still has a fairly limited impact on the food & grocery market; the vast majority of heavy social media users are not rushing out to buy that prawn cocktail sandwich their favourite influencer was spotted holding. So even if the Co-op was to force itself to the top of the table, it would be unlikely to make a demonstrable impact on footfall or sales results, which quickly leads to the question: why bother?

But asking this is the wrong approach; rather, the question should be: why not bother? It’s free (excluding any additional staffing costs), can be done from the comfort of anywhere with an internet connection, and can provide a useful source of customer feedback. And for the Co-op specifically, with younger food shoppers representing a target audience, social media penetration should represent an easy win rather than an unnecessary lag behind its competitors.

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