The human brand

Recently you will have noticed how successful some “fit” retailers have been in capitalising on celebrity endorsement and creating new brand experiences around social trends.

Television franchises such as MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules have helped to enable one such social trend, reigniting the passion for home cooking and making it more popular than ever, especially among financially savvy consumers.

Consumers are buying into these “events” through retail and the “fittest” retailers are those who truly understand how to recognise a trend and leverage it throughout their business.

At a recent Retail Doctor Group “Fit for Business” Breakfast, Stuart Machin, director of retail operations at Coles, explained the company’s strategy to leverage this particular social trend: “We want consumers to really fall in love again with food.”

Coles’ use of Curtis Stone is an excellent example of a celebrity endorsement who leverages the “home cooking” resurgence and who links this resurgence across so many different product channels to provide consumers with solutions both in and out of store.

Coles’ success with Stone also comes from its understanding in how to introduce Stone and his offer through different retail channels. Using a thoroughly integrated approach, Stone is the perfect “human brand” to represent Coles as well as being the spokesperson for the key Coles company message of “Feed your Family for under $10”.

Indeed, even on ninemsn this week, Curtis was appearing in branded advertisements online to promote the recipe of the week and driving consumers to Coles’ recipe and cooking website as well as Facebook for a chance to cook with him and star in a Coles recipe video.

What Coles does so well here is relate to consumers and link a current social trend, capitalising on it to drive consumers into its stores. Once in-store, the endorsement journey continues, with Stuart Machin quoting over 2.5 million Curtis Stone recipes being taken from displays every month.

Consumers are clearly seeing the value and buying into the experience Coles is creating. You only have to look at the Coles’ Recipe Facebook numbers (41,000) and the number of hits on the website every week to review recipes (3,000) to know Coles’ strategy is working.

If you’re considering creating experiences using a “human brand” your customers will buy into, have a think about the following:

  • What social trends are driving consumers to act across channels e.g. home cooking?
  • What is the personality of your brand and does the social trend/event reflect your brand personality?
  • If you are thinking about a celebrity endorsement, will they appeal to your age demographic, are they relevant and do they actually understand your brand/product?
  • You are looking for someone to stand for your brand so they must reflect your personality and be PR fit!
  • Do you have a good grasp of how to capitalise on celebrity endorsement and relate to consumers in appropriate ways across different channels to drive sales?
  • How can you leverage your celebrity endorsement in-store to continue to engage, add value and drive sales?

Happy “fit” retailing!


Brian Walker is Managing Director of Australasia’s leading retail consultancy, Retail Doctor Group.

Specialising in the implementation of insights-driven strategy and building of business fitness, Retail Doctor Group are the “how to’” experts in the retail, franchise, service and shopping centre management sectors. They have built successful projects for companies such as National Australia Bank, Optus, Denim Enterprises (G-Star) and Westfield.

In this blog, Brian will share practical tips and advice on how retailers can transform their strategic intent into operational excellence.


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