Nice N Social

Nice N Easy continues to ramp up social networking efforts

Linda Abu-Shalback Zid, Senior Editor

CANASTOTA, N.Y. -- Whether on their computer at home, using their cell phone or cruising Facebook or YouTube, consumers should not be surprised to find a Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes presence. The convenience retailer has been increasing its social media efforts to promote its stores and to share information with its customers, including, most recently, the launch of the Nice N Easy Text Club.

The chain's Facebook efforts [image-nocss] started immediately after the 2009 NACS Show. "Everyone knows it is important to communicated with your customers; [Facebook] is an opportunity to communicate with them in the home and on demand," Jared Sturtevant, director of category management, told CSP Daily News. "By clicking that 'Like' button, they have basically asked that you be a part of their experience on [Facebook], and you are a part of their network."

Recent Facebook efforts include updating fans on the company's 30th anniversary on-location parties and a "guess the location" contest, which pops up at different times of the day. It features images of stores, and the customer who guesses which store it is wins a $5 Nice N Easy gift card. "The response is always the best we've had vs. any other type of post," according to Sturtevant.

The company also launched a YouTube presence the same day as its Facebook effort. It includes existing and early commercials, giving visitors an opportunity to see Nice N Easy's president, John MacDougall, being chased by cows, literally turning blue in the face or searching for the perfect cup of coffee with Pablo the donkey.

Sturtevant said future YouTube plans include uploading a realistic job preview for potential employees to view. He added, "One fun idea that isn't fully developed is to invite employees to create their own DIY commercials that we can post to create some excitement within the company, and eventually expand that concept out to our customers as a contest."

The Text Club, which debuted in late June, asks customers to text EASY to 91217 to receive discounts via their phones. A customer shows his or her phone at the register to claim the discount. The company offered free coffee or fountain drinks as the opt-in offer for its kickoff.

"Not many people will leave home without their phone, and if they do, they probably turn around," Sturtevant said. "So even if they don't use the offer you sent to them, they are seeing it and you are staying in front of that customer."

Subsequent offers have included heavily discounted limited-time offers, such as 49-cent Nice N Easy Water or complimentary coffee with $5 purchase. Next steps include evaluating enrollment and offer redemption, then soliciting vendor participation.

Meanwhile, Nice N Easy is developing an email marketing program tied to the company's loyalty program and possibly participating in FourSquare, the mobile startup sensation that allows participants to "check in" at locations.

"I am currently looking at FourSquare as our next social media marketing tool," Sturtevant said. "It is very new and doesn't have the critical mass in our rural market, but I see it being the next big thing for retailers."