SAINT JOSEPH, Mo. — Moving to a new area is always a stressful event, and most businesses recognize the importance of making a good first impression on new customers. So, being the first supermarket to greet a family to town and offer them free groceries as an incentive to visit a store can be a great way to generate loyalty as those customers begin establishing new shopping habits.
Brad McAnally, store director for Hy-Vee  here, explained that people who have recently moved to the area can be otherwise difficult to reach with traditional circulars or other print ads.
“When new people come to town, the first thing that they do isn’t getting a subscription to the newspaper,” he told SN. “They like to feel things out. So, you’re generally going to miss them for a period of time when they move to town.
“That first moment is key. The hardest part of running a grocery store is getting them in the door. And it’s hard for people to switch grocery stores. So if they’re new to town, how do you get them in your door first?”
McAnally addressed this challenge at his location by developing a locally exclusive partnership with Pinellas Park, Fla.-based Our Town America, a national new mover marketing company that sends targeted mailers with high-value coupons to families that have just moved to the Saint Joseph area.
According to information supplied by Our Town America, his store’s program costs about $150 per month and targets an average of 114 New Movers per month. Of those who receive the mailers — generally coupons for $10 of free groceries — the response rate is almost 22%, or about 24 potential new customers each month.
“They can use the coupon however they want to,” he said. “It’s a $10 bill basically, asking them to come check out our store.”
These new shoppers also tend to browse the entire store and check out different departments, McAnally has noticed.
The coupons have also provided a source of customer feedback, which is almost always positive, he said.
“The cool thing is when they get done using these coupons, there’s a questionnaire that they can fill out. And I get a lot of those back. Out of the hundred or so that we send out per month we get about 10 back. They say, ‘We love your store, glad we got the coupon, I’m a loyal shopper.’ And I’ve had people over the years tell me, ‘Hey, the first time I came into your store was because I got that welcome thing in the mail.’ I hear that all the time.”