Magazine article Marketing

The Co-Op Needs to Renovate but Retain Its Ethics

Magazine article Marketing

The Co-Op Needs to Renovate but Retain Its Ethics

Article excerpt

It was a wise and prophetic copy-writer who coined that old, yet oddly memorable, advertising jingle 'It's all at the Co-op now'. Milk, baked beans, skulduggery, secret surveillance, alleged theft - it's all been at the Co-op in the past few weeks.

This particular skirmish may have ended in victory for the Co-operative Wholesale Society, but it's also true that the entrepreneur Andrew Regan's botched campaign to crown himself King of the Co-ops has probably done more to wake up the movement's managers than a decade spent squabbling as their customers dribble away.

As Verdict Retail Research points out, in the early 80s the Co-op spoke for almost a quarter of all UK food shopping. The latest of Verdict's industry reports shows that market share has fallen to nearer 5.8%.

There's no chance that any of the 50-odd remaining Societies will be able to go back to sleep. The forthcoming court proceedings promise to be every bit as gripping and headline grabbing as the story so far.

With hindsight, Hambros, Nomura and even Sainsbury's are probably wishing that they were never linked to this ill-starred attempt to unbundle the CWS.

While the retail stores have withered, how has the CWS-owned Co-operative Bank simultaneously managed to wow all those Gold Card-toting professionals, Guardian readers and bunny huggers?

For one thing, its marketing seems to focus on consulting its customers - this week there's a new wheeze to reward the Bank's key stakeholders. …

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