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How Martin’s Super Markets wins with audience planning

Martin’s Super Markets is a 22-store supermarket chain that leverages an advanced audience planning strategy to connect with consumers.

In business since 1947, the chain is a digital marketing pioneer in the grocery space as an early adopter of the online “grocery-to-go” model with their homegrown program “click and collect.”

We sat down with Amy McClellan, SVP, Retail for Martin’s Super Markets, to learn more about how her organization leverages an audience-first marketing approach to drive demand across all of their locations.

Why does Martin’s leverage audience planning as a core piece of your marketing strategy?

The key benefit of audience planning is that it allows us to communicate with our audiences in a more relevant way.

By grouping customers together with similar purchasing patterns, we can craft a message that’s most relevant to them.

It’s a win-win: the customer derives value from us and the results are a more efficient, effective spend of our marketing dollars.

Martin’s is no stranger to leading with data. We’ve had a loyalty card program since the mid-90s and leverage that data to make the customer experience more relevant.

We’re trending away from mass marketing and more toward audience driven in all of our efforts. We’re not spending less, just making our dollars go further.

How has your digital marketing journey evolved?

Our largest monthly spend is still on print circulars. Until the industry as a whole trends away from the circular, I see many in the space still using it as a way to get their messaging out in mass form.

That said, every month we spend less on print and shift those dollars to digital.

We also still run traditional television and radio ads, but even that spend is becoming less terrestrial for us.

For example, we’re moving more spend into audio applications like Pandora and away from traditional radio.

Our advertising spend hasn’t drastically changed, but how we spend it certainly has.

Please share a real-world example or use case where audience planning helped you engage with your shoppers more effectively.

We deploy an “always-on” data-driven Facebook strategy where we have our Facebook campaigns running 52 weeks per year.

We’ve had great success with one-day sales events and promotions to our “value” segment or price-conscious shoppers.

We’re able to ramp-up those quickly and find the shoppers who are really interested on both Facebook and the open web. 

We have a dedicated media budget for that and can leverage additional marketing dollars from the brands.

Even at our size, brands are always interested in vendors who can find the right audiences.

Another example is that Martin’s is rebranding our private-label products: the “Spartan” label is becoming the “Our Family” label.

To ensure we don’t skip a beat with those private-label buyers, we utilize audience targeting while pre-emptively messaging consumers about the change.

We talk directly to the customers caring about private label and let them know the new brand is really great and it’s going to start to replace the previous label.

We are pro-active instead of reactive—it’s audience targeting at its best. For people who don’t buy that brand, it is an irrelevant message and a waste of budget for us.

Were there any opportunities or challenges you were trying to solve for when you adopted this strategy?

I think we are consistently looking for more effective ways to communicate.

Part of the value we deliver are innovative products and niche programs. It’s essential to find the audiences that care.

Oracle Data Cloud is a big part of that. We’re constantly looking at the engagement rate of our programs and testing and learning.

Just because an audience is highly engaged today doesn’t mean it will be in three months. 

For example, we have a pet audience that was effective at first, but then we saw a drop-off in engagement.

Through test and learn we figured out that frequency was the key to keeping this audience engaged and some messages were resonating better than others.

Letting data drive the communication strategy is key. With test and learn you can try new tactics and take advantage of quick opportunities.

Having the audiences ready to use quickly makes it even more of a win.

Contact The Data Hotline to reach the audiences that matter most to your business. (What's The Data Hotline?)

About Amy McClellan

As a member of the Martin’s executive committee, Amy serves as a key advisor in new market development and other strategic initiatives for growth.

Amy earned a Bachelor of Science in Business degree cum laude with dual concentrations in Marketing & Advertising, as well as an MBA, both from Indiana University.

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Image: Shutterstock

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