Off-licensees increasingly engaging customers through social media

‘How will the customer want to interact with the off-licensee in five year’s time?’ is the question that NOffLA’s recent seminar The 21st Century Customer posed to Cathal McHugh of McHugh’s Off-Licence on Killbarrack Road and Malahide Road.

In his presentation How your peers are engaging with the 21st Century customer in the Red Cow Moran’s Hotel recently, Cathal pointed out that, “We’re not just here to talk about social media”.

But leaflets and local newspaper ads are becoming less effective, he believed.

“People want to consume their information through their smartphones. People google everything. Before I visit a new location, book a restaurant, go to a pub that I have never been to before, I’ll have googled them first. I’ll check their location on googlemaps, I might click through to their website or facebook page or twitter feed. Why should it be any different for an off-licence?” he asked.

By way of a case study, he put forward his own business at , an eCommerce website.

Online customers can pay through Realex which costs the retailer around €29 per month for the rental of a secure payment portal which witnesses just under 350 transactions a month.

Once the website has been set up, he said, the next step is to ensure that your offer can be got on mobiles. Some 43% of people have a smartphone and 36% purchase through the device.

McHugh’s also ran a paid facebook campaign to increase its facebook Likes.

He pointed out that Baggot Street Wines markets itself using Mail Chimp to circulate a newsletter to its mailing list of 1,700 subscribers.

Mail Chimp is a free application that allows one to format and send newsletters. It can give one insights and analytics into opening rates and can suggest ways of improving the effectiveness of campaigns.

The retail industry average ‘open rate’ is 18%. Baggot Street Wines was initially performing below this but with automatic tips from Mail Chimp it improved its ‘open rate’ to 25%, said Cathal.

Consumer incentives may have to be given for initial sign-up but then subscribers have volunteered to be marketed to and are very likely to act on offers and calls to action, he explained.

Baggot Street Wines uses its newsletters to deliver news of exclusive discounts, highlight relevant media coverage, highlight forthcoming events and advertise its in-store tastings.

Cathal also referred to Egan’s of Portlaoise whose facebook is subject to regular postings and has lots of bright images. The page has 4,378 Likes.

Egan’s makes use of ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ competitions to broaden appeal and it also makes use of a paid ‘Boost Post’ which, in one recent case, had reached 8,064 people, many more than would have normally been the case.

The facebook Insights returned on the boosted post as part of the service showed that approximately 40% of the reach was organic with the other 60% as a result of the paid ‘Boost Post’. 373 people Liked, Shared or Commented on the post and 51 people clicked on the post, said Cathal.

Another case history, Martin’s of Fairview, used facebook and twitter to drive traffic to its website which helped illustrate its Christmas hamper presentation. It uses facebook to run Valentine’s Day competitions and tasting night reminders as well as celebration day suggestions.

Another interesting case study saw Holland’s of Bray’s Off-Licence Manager Jason Fox making use of his twitter account to let people know what’s on offer. He has 1,506 twitter followers thanks to his regular tweeting which mixes business with personal.
“Jason develops relationships through shared interests which regularly converts into sales,” said Cathal. The off-licence also has 356 Instagram followers.

“The twitter interactions are a broad mix of personal interest, product information and friendly banter with plenty of humour,” he said.

Others making widespread use of twitter in the off-licence area include Desmond’s Next Door in Limerick, World Wide Wine in Waterford, the Castle Off-Licence in Tralee and NOffLA itself.

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