How a refreshed content strategy can speak to your customers in new ways

Co-op-food: Peanut butter brownies

Food magazine has long been the home of everyday accessible food inspiration for Co-op customers – whether it’s proving the provenance and quality of the produce or providing little twists on classic recipes that might inspire customers to try something different for a midweek treat.

In January 2018, River was tasked with finding a way of incorporating a new brand message – ‘The Year of Eating Together’. This campaign theme frames the social benefits of getting together with people over food, which is a laudable fit for the ethos of Co-op (if not the lived-by customer experience of the majority of its convenience customers). Through a series of focus groups with key Co-op customer segments, we undertook a deep-dive into perceptions around this issue, and road-tested a series of creative executions that aimed to bring it to life.

However, not content with simply responding to the brief, we used the opportunity (and the invaluable addition of insights from real customers), to explore the magazine more deeply. What does it really mean for Co-op customers, we asked, and how could we stretch it even further?

We started with arguably the single most important thing a supermarket magazine can deliver – recipe and food inspiration. We created a new recipe strategy to invigorate our food content, tapping into innovation and food trends in a way that was new for the brand and talked more explicitly to its growth customer segments. By putting a creative spin on the everyday, we delivered class-leading recipe content that changed perceptions of the brand. This was inextricably helped by the fact that key members of our team are experts in not only content but also food. Editor Sarah Akhurst has worked in professional kitchens and is a trained chef having gained a diploma in Cordon Bleu cookery at the Tante Marie Culinary Academy and Assistant Food Editor Linzi Pucino studied a BSc (Hons) in Food and Consumer Sciences before completing a course at Leiths School of Food and Wine. The team are true specialists in their field.

This recipe transformation led inexorably to a transformation of the photography and visual aesthetic. This has also, in turn, transformed our video content – which is derived from the magazine – and has given us a much greater platform to create the sort of content that wins in social. Already, in January 2019, our most recent recipe video for vegan peanut butter & jelly breakfast buns reached 1.3m people on Facebook. It’s a great example of an unexpected recipe that leverages on-trend American flavours and greater customer uptake of Veganuary.

Another beneficiary of the enhanced recipe content is Co-op’s recipe site. With no current ecommerce capability, the site exists purely to drive inspiration and engagement around food, and to encourage customers to visit their local Co-op. Since our new recipe strategy has deployed, we have seen more visits and much longer dwell time.

What all of this goes to show is that the best content, conceived with customers right at the heart, will always have a life beyond the channel it was originally created for – and how by a relentless focus on defining the ethos of your content, good content can become great.



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