Today’s guest post is written by Anne Weiskopf. 

Shaw’s supermarkets (part of the SuperValu chain) launched a holiday giveaway in November worth more than $15 million in prizes and money saving offers across their 169 stores in five states.

The concept of the “Wish Big Win Big Holiday Giveaway” is simple and compelling: Shoppers are given a number of tickets based upon their total grocery purchase spend and specially marked items.

These tickets, when unsealed, reveal a 25-cent coupon for a product from a participating brand as well as four game markers.  Match the marker to a spot on the Official Game Board and you are “playing the game.”

I’ve never participated in a game contest or sweepstakes. But as the mother of two teenage boys, I shop for food – a lot (There’s a reason food is #2 on Maslow’s Hierarchy). And I hate going to the grocery store. Each step in the process from filing my cart, to packing the bags, paying (have you seen prices recently?) to loading my car and then unloading the groceries at home and putting them away – sucks.

This is the underlying (and enduring) appeal of Shaw’s giveaway. It takes a necessary evil and turns it into something fun.

Yes, I became hooked.

Win or lose, opening game pieces and finding a match is quite the thrill, which is why I consolidated my grocery shopping at Shaw’s and have not frequented my preferred grocery store.

Thrills aside, where Shaw’s misses the mark is in not using web or social channels to educate, motivate, and create brand ambassadors.

Research tells us women do the majority of the grocery shopping, and more than 50 percent of Facebook’s audience is women aged 25 years and older.

To demonstrate this point, it was a friend texting me a photo of an in-store promotion from Shaw’s that alerted me to a “Double Tickets” day.

And, it was then my post on Facebook that notified several other game players.

Offline, I’ve seen the contest promoted in Shaw’s weekly circular and in-store promotions (Of course by then I’m already in the store).  According to a Shaw’s representative, the contest is also being promoted in television, radio, Shaw’s website, and Facebook.

While Shaw’s does have an active Facebook page almost none of its content is dedicated to the contest. And Shaw’s makes it very challenging to find updates on contest winners. In order to do so, you need to go to their  website and click a link to a Facebook page (not searchable on the web).

As of November 10th more than 100 winners had been announced. This page has not again been updated and the contest ends on February 9th.

Shaw’s further missed an opportunity by not referencing their Facebook presence on the Official Game Board, leaving customers to surmise that social media was not a component of the contest.

And Shaw’s Twitter account has yet to Tweet.

Successfully creating and promoting customer contests are a significant endeavor and expense for any organization. Kudos to Shaw’s for embarking upon a major contest program and for developing a companion game for their employees called the “Associates Game.” It’s played in a similar way but uses completely separate game boards and markers. Of course, they can do better.

Seven Ways Shaw’s Can Win Bigger with Their Next Contest

  1. Leverage data from the Shaw’s loyalty card: According to Malcolm Fauds, SVP of Marketing at Bzz Agent, “Companies are missing an opportunity to track permissioned data schemes in order to better target customer experiences.” In the case of Shaw’s, alert me when the products I buy frequently are being promoted for double points rewards.
  2. Use social networks to expand contest reach and increase player interaction.
  3. Cross-reference social channels in all promotional material.
  4. Dedicate more of your Facebook presence to the contest. Encourage, even reward, customers to “Like” your page.
  5.  Use Twitter to organically share time-based contest information.
  6.  Announce contest winners in more public forums. This will create demand, excitement, and urgency for those who are playing.
  7.  Embrace the blogger community, identify, and leverage brand ambassadors.
What else could they do?

Anne Weiskopf provides sales and business development services to agencies and companies who are in the social media and technology space. She blogs at Rip Off the Roof. You can follow her on Twitter @AnneWeiskopf.