In a bold move, Chemist Warehouse is moving beyond just advertising on radio to becoming a radio station brand.
They are hoping this will be an innovative brand gesture to connect with their audience and drive sales. But have they done it right, or could it actually inflict more damage on the brand than good?
Next month, ARN (parent company of Mix and Gold 104) is launching ‘Chemist Warehouse MIX90s’. It is being publicised as a ‘custom built station’ for Chemist Warehouse, the discount chemist retailer. This is not a closed circuit in-store station but something anyone can listen to via the web, with a smart phone app or with a digital DAB+ radio.
ARN claims the station has been designed to appeal to Chemist Warehouse customers both in store and out. As part of the deal, Chemist Warehouse will pipe the station throughout its stores and is guaranteed 100% commercial exclusivity as well as promotional support on the Mix FM network nationally. Chemist Warehouse is hoping it will enhance the in-store experience, attract new customers and increase store visitation.
However, this is not really a customised format designed exclusively for Chemist Warehouse customers. ARN had already planned to launch ‘80s and ‘90s format stations. They are using their excess DAB+ capacity to extend their ‘Mix’ brand and this is a way to get some money for it. What Chemist Warehouse is really getting is a station sponsor and naming package for the ‘90s format (a sponsor for the ‘80s format hasn’t been announced yet).
Sure, Chemist Warehouse gets exclusivity and naming rights, but I am not convinced a niche ‘90s only format is ideal for their brand. A worthwhile brand gesture requires careful consideration to how well it ‘fits’ with the brand, its personality and its audience. This format is not designed with their broad retail customer base in mind, nor does it feel like it has any relevance to the brand.
There isn’t really anything in the approach that will add real value to their customers. In fact, it may impact on the reputation of the Chemist Warehouse brand – making it feel like it is stuck in a strange time warp.
30-somethings feeling reminiscent of their high school years may have some initial interest in listening to ‘90s music, for an hour or two, but the novelty will soon wear off. This will also only appeal to a very small percentage of their target audience – the rest may find it a turn-off. The format just doesn’t seem sustainable, is too niche and maybe even alienating for some of their audience.
Unfortunately, this might be a missed opportunity. Any brand gesture needs careful consideration for what it says about the brand and how it will enhance the brand experience for customers. However, this feels like another case of a client being ‘sold’ something without thinking about the brand implications. The sponsorship is just being reversed engineered into a cookie cutter approach that lacks consideration for the audience as well as the reputation of both the Mix and Chemist Warehouse brands.
Want to hear what “Chemist Warehouse Mix ‘90s” will be like? It is on air now, currently in test transmission – tune in on your DAB+ radio or listen online here: MP3 Live audio feed or AAC live audio feed
Perhaps a better example is “Radio Free” a radio app created by DMG (Parent of Nova and Classic Rock) for Virgin Mobile. Launched last year, this is a custom designed station specifically for Virgin’s customers. It works on a crowd-sourcing model to populate the top songs as voted by Virgin Mobile listeners. With exclusive, interactive content, this feels more considered, relevant and hence is a valuable brand gesture.
What do you think? Is this a valuable brand gesture for Chemist Warehouse? If you were to custom build a radio station for Chemist Warehouse, what would you programme?
Director of Brand Strategy, former radio presenter and still in tune with radio!
Update: Chemist drops the ’90s for a customised format
17th August 2012
It has taken them a year, but it seems that Chemist Warehouse has finally seen the light and dropped the all 90s playlist.
According to Radio Today, “the playlist will now broaden to include all types, from all era’s and will now be called Chemist Warehouse Remix”.
It appears that ARN and Chemist Warehouse’s advertising agency Quattro Group have finally realised a customised radio format is needed to truly engage with the Chemist Warehouse audience – exactly what they should’ve done from day one.
Peter Quattro, CEO of Quattro Group told Radioinfo the new format will be “engaging and it’s targeted; a win-win.”
Hopefully now, Chemist Warehouse can deliver a true brand gesture to their audience, enhancing the shopping experience, instead just instore noise.
However, it isn’t just the music that needs to remixed, I am keen to see how they develop engaging content that enriches the shopping experience. This will need appeal to the broad range of Chemist Warehouse customers but also be time spent instore and the customer’s paths to purchase. Music and advertisements alone do not really ad much value to the customer shopping experience.
Director of Brand Strategy