VG partnership with carwash retailer increases customers for both

by Jan-Christian Walle        

Collaboration with Statoil Fuel & Retail generates value for all parties through a satisfying customer experience, leading to a nationwide bundled offer and increased traffic in the carwash line.

Click the image to view a larger versionA decrease in single-copy sales is inevitable when looking at the high-paced digital news media development.

The time spent reading newspapers is shrinking because of easily accessible digital channels for consuming news. This doesn’t necessarily mean that our readers appreciate the newspaper any less in the right situations. But it’s more important than ever to find the kind of settings where the newspaper is the preferred channel so we can become more visible and available in the right places. 

VG is Norway's most widely read newspaper, with all of the following channels leading their category as measured by the number of national readers: newspaper (VG Print), online (VG Nett), mobile (VG Mobil). In addition, VG has the most read, free tablet version. 

Today, VG’s customers can buy the newspaper every day from more than 9,000 retailers spread across Norway. As a retail product, VG newspaper is one of the 15 most sold products in the retail market among more than 25, 000 products. VG reaches daily more than 2.2 million people in total (52% of population).

Our goal was to come up with a bundle that could fill our customers’ needs (known or unknown) and could generate high results over the long-term. We found through experience and research that our customers and readers highly valued our campaigns when the situation and combination of the products in the bundle was useful and easy to understand.

Through our research, we found a significant match in the situation of “getting a carwash” where VG newspaper could be of value to the customers while they are waiting for the carwash to finish.

Statoil Fuel & Retail is a leading Scandinavian road transportation fuel retailer. In Norway, there are about 500 Statoil Fuel and Retail stations, where gasoline, diesel, fast food, groceries, and car-and-leisure products are offered. Statoil has more than 250 carwashes around the country.

As market leader, Statoil holds the highest market share in the category of carwash products. There is strong competition in this category, and machine carwash is one of the highest profit products, with a relatively high turnover. Statoil was therefore also searching for ways to maintain its position as the market leader and to gain further growth. 

The bundle we created is as simple as it is effective. Any customer who purchases a carwash at a Statoil station receives a VG included in the price. We find that while the customer waits for the carwash programme to finish, they fully appreciate reading the offered newspaper. This campaign is also an effective tool to drive upselling. 

We ended up with the most successful campaign VG has ever done in cooperation with a retail partner.

To ensure a national implementation of the campaign, we have produced tools that both VG and Statoil sales corps use to measure the retailers’ ability to follow-up and use the campaign for upselling. 

Because of tight and productive cooperation, our campaign has worked as predicted and planned, significantly enhancing preference, and resulting in an increased sales frequency of both carwashes and VG newspapers among both new and regular customers nationwide. 

A successful campaign depends on every single retailer to make sure the customers are getting the offer in store. As part of the plan to strengthen the relationship and to find out how we could make the most of this bundle with Statoil Fuel and Retail, we invited all of Statoil’s 20 district managers, as well as relevant key personnel at Statoil’s headquarters, to participate in a one-day workshop, filled with professional and social content. Together, we found and established new measures to ensure the best possible follow-up of the campaign. We also received valuable information about what kinds of tools we needed to ensure long-term success for both parties.

The best way to tell if you find a way to fill your customer’s needs (known or unknown) is to ask them. This way you also get to know what you should work on and have an opportunity to learn why the campaign failed or succeeded. 

There are always factors that are invisible at the planning table, but are crucial for the implementation. One factor to carefully work out is the chain of information that will ensure employees understand the value the campaign generates for their customers as well as for the station manager. If not, you could still end up with a good campaign — but it might not produce the results you are actually aiming for.

In addition to analysing our own sales, market share, and Statoil’s own sales reports, we also conducted customer surveys and RAM-analysis. The surveys show that VG is a strongly preferred add-on product to the carwash and that the campaign builds a positive customer experience. It also tells us that the retailers actively sell the campaign. The RAM-analysis of the advertising material was done to ensure an effective and brand-building communication.

Our key finding is that 18% of the population report they wash their car more frequently because of this offer, and that more than 90% of the customers say yes when they are offered the bundle. We also found that customers prefer VG as an add-on product compared to other product with a high turnover rate.

The VG and carwash bundle resulted in an increase of 27% of the VG market share in Statoil in the first year of the collaboration. According to a press release from Statoil, the VG campaign was a major cause for the company’s 11% increase in sales of carwashes that year. 

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