… is not usually a good thing in marketing.
However, when it’s of the food variety it’s a little different.
This is a fruit-laden waffle from Filmore & Union, served in their cafe based in a branch of John Lewis. And there’s a story behind it (I know, I know, the lengths I have to go to research for a blog).
Let’s get the little collaboration out of the way first.
This is something relatively new for John Lewis. This store (and I’m guessing all or almost all its other branches in the UK) already has its own cafe. It’s on the first floor.
So it might seem a little odd that the company would want to have another brand in on the act. Wouldn’t it take away business from their own, in-house, cafe?
On closer inspection, it’s a smart move. Especially if it’s being used as a test and the results monitored (which it will be).
The cafes in John Lewis are very middle of the road. Reasonable quality, a bit above average on price, let’s say. The newcomer, Filmore & Union offers higher quality and has a reputation for healthy eating (eg gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and vegan options). The food is more expensive (but that’s always the way if you want to escape processed food).
What’s happening here is customers are being offered more choice. So that’s good for the customer. The customer wins.
John Lewis no doubt is paid by F&U to allow them their presence in the store (and other JL stores). And if people are drawn to the store by the new cafe it can increase footfall – and therefore potential spending in store. So John Lewis wins.
Filmore & Union benefits by having a new outlet for its relatively new business. The customers who use its cafe at John Lewis may also look for F&U elsewhere – in the city centre and at the railway station in York, for example. It’s an expansion of and exposure for the brand. Filmore & Union wins, too.
Now let’s turn to that waffle.
You’re only seeing it featured here because your diligent strategic copywriter keeps his eyes and ears open to what’s happening with marketing in the REAL world, with real businesses.
John Lewis gives customers the chance to sign up for a membership card and build up points with purchases. As a member, you also receive regular emails and mailings with news, offers, rewards and vouchers.
One of the benefits of membership used to be a free hot drink and cake EVERY month. That’s changed a bit now. You receive vouchers based on your shopping habits with John Lewis. The more you spend, the more ‘free drink’ vouchers you are likely to receive. (I still manage to get a free drink every couple of months without spending much in store – and it’s still a nice little treat that’s well liked by customers).
And, from time to time, there are other offers or vouchers. Most recently my ‘newsletter’ arrived with a ‘free drink and cake’ voucher plus an offer to try a waffle at Filmore & Union in store.
What you see is what I was served. The deal was a waffle and hot drink for £4.00 with the voucher (usually it would cost more than £7.00).
I have to say the fruit was very fresh and refreshing. Loved it. The waffle? I wasn’t so keen on it. Obviously a healthier version of waffle so it was plain. No sugar rush here.
Would I order the waffle again? Probably not. However, that’s not the point.
Filmore & Union got me to try something new. (Full disclosure, I have eaten at their York cafe and also used their outlet at York train station).
I do tend to get my pre-train coffee from them rather than other chains at the station. And I know I will be back at their cafe or restaurant in the city centre soon. The food really is lovingly made and delicious (ok, apart from the odd waffle… and it’s all a matter of taste, anyway).
So, there’s a bit of brand loyalty being built here.
What’s more, I’ve noticed something about F&U at my local John Lewis. The customer service is really good. There’s a member of staff who seems to run the show and leads by example. In a world where so much of the service you find in cafes, restaurants and shops is sub-standard, it’s good to see a company making an effort to do things the right way.
For some people, that kind of approach can be an important factor in the decision about where to have coffee, tea, cake, brunch, lunch or dinner.
You can have great marketing but if your product, service or customer service fall down then you’ll quickly notice what happens to your customers (and fast disappearing line of leads and prospects).
And, of course, if like me you want to avoid waffle… use the services of a copywriter who understands how to get your message across like crystal. There’s a good one here.