Engaging next-generation, new age customers requires new-generation thinking.
By Scott Simon
Swiss Farms is celebrating 50 years of operating drive-through convenience stores in Delaware County, Pa. Importantly, through our hands-on approach, Swiss Farms has its finger on the pulse of customers, no matter their age.
The company’s legacy includes traditional staples: bread, dairy, fresh and frozen items, drinks, and now a full line of fresh food. In addition, each store offers more than 1,000 different items daily.
To better communicate its offerings to customers, Swiss Farms has made a significant investment in the company’s mobile app, which includes an order ahead/pay ahead program geared towards retaining its current customers, while at the same time speaking to younger consumers. In fact, Swiss Farms markets itself in many different platforms including traditional and non-traditional grassroots efforts.
Swiss Farms, along with every other business out there, is constantly asking the same question: “How do we continue to attract new customers?” Never has there been such a wide contrast of potential shoppers as there is today. From baby boomers and Gen Xers to Generation Z and the much-publicized Millennial consumer, there has never been more of a disparate in how businesses must speak to each potential customer base than there is today.
It’s important that businesses speak to multiple generations. Swiss Farms utilizes several different multi-tier approaches when targeting its customers. You have to reach everyone, from the loyal grandmother, who has been visiting us for 50 years, to her 18-year-old grandson just getting his license. It also includes the 30-year-old mom, who has never heard of Swiss Farms.
Our company employs a variety of different marketing techniques designed to engage this younger generation and help gain new customers. From our new updated mobile app, including the order ahead/pay ahead functionality, Swiss Farms is even partnering with UberEats to deliver convenient service to new, youthful and tech-savvy customers.
Mobile payments can be enabled via the Swiss Farms app. There is loyalty attached, allowing Swiss Farms to offer additional incentives right in the app as well as promo codes for the app and website. The possibilities are endless.
The ease of ordering through the app and the website is also huge for new customers. If you type in milk, you can pick your milk; type in bread, up pop all of the bread options. The technology allows the individual to see everything our stores sell on his or her phone.
Social Media is another big one. An effective social media campaign is all about consistency and frequency. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all different platforms that require different messaging. Making one post and blasting it across of your social media can make sense at times, but generally, each platform requires focused messaging, both unique and personal. People want to see behind the scenes. They want to see you bring your dog to work for a day—or your cat. They want to see your staff using and enjoying your products.
A business also needs to avoid being seen as tired and run down. Rustic can be trendy, but rusty never impresses. It’s important that your locations look new, clean and maintained. Customers don’t want to visit the old run-down corner store anymore. They want a shiny building that provides the services and products that new-generation consumers have come to expect. To that end, Swiss Farms has begun rehabbing and renovating some of its legacy locations.
Of course, it’s not all about surface impressions. We consistently engage our guests—not only to track the latest trends, but to keep vital relationships with shoppers.
We need to carry the products they want to buy. It’s important that we listen to our guests in person and online. We should go the extra step to adhere to trends and find products customers demand, or eventually they will go somewhere else. At Swiss Farms, we strive to be flexible and exceed our customers’ expectations.
That’s the reason I’m certain Swiss Farms will be around for another 50 years.
Scott Simon is president and CEO of Swiss Farms, which operates 13 drive-through market locations in Pennsylvania.