Small businesses would do well to pay attention to the investment in customers shown by German supermarket Aldi with the launch of its “Testers Club”, a branding expert says.
One hundred Aldi customers have signed on to the product testing group, which was quietly launched by the international supermarket chain in Australia in August this year, according to The Australian.
Members of the Testers Club receive 10 free grocery items to review per quarter and are asked to rate at least 50% of the products they receive as part of their annual membership.
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Overall Aldi received more than 17,000 applications to join the group, from which 100 members were chosen.
The chosen testers were selected in September and received their first shipment of products in late September.
A spokesperson for Aldi told SmartCompany this morning the product testing and rating program is unique to the Australian market.
“The club was created to enable Aldi to receive valuable customer feedback, to inform product development across our grocery range,” the spokesperson says.
For Aldi, it’s about continuing to adapt products to meet the needs of tomorrow’s consumer.
“To do this, we regularly seek consumer feedback on our product range and in store experience,” the spokesperson says.
“As we expand, it is our priority to remain nimble and responsive to the evolving behaviours of our customers.”
Nicole Reaney, director of InsideOutPR, told SmartCompany this morning the Testers Club shifts the power back on to consumers by allowing them to inform Aldi about their preferences.
“It demonstrates that [Aldi is] ‘listening’ to customers and this initiative is hitting the right chords as evidenced by the 17,000 applications it received immediately,” she says.
While Reaney says product testing with a business’s target market is nothing new, the Testers Club is an example of a business attempting to reach the greater public and to get its product portfolio right.
“Whether you are a product or service-based business, offering your clients some sort of ‘freebie’ whether it’s valuable industry insights or tips through to actual samples will always be welcomed by your customer group,” she says.
But Reaney says the degree of accuracy of the data gained could be “questionable”.
“These ‘freebie’ promotions tend to attract a certain customer segment and not necessarily the view of its core target demographic,” she says.
Still, Reaney says small businesses can learn from Aldi’s focus on its customers.
“It’s creating a bit of a buying democracy amongst consumers,” she says,
“Rather than an organisation dictating product range, it’s allowing customers to shift product ranges and styles, pricing.
“For a small company through to sole traders, it’s really important to listen to your clients, across all phases of your relationship with them.”