Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke isn’t hanging around to see if the first global profits drop in almost 20 years is just an anomaly. So he’s launched a blog - the ‘Talking Shop’ (he’s an avid reader of The Grocer, evidently!).
On the surface it’s a smart move. Placing an emphasis on rebuilding trust with consumers is an intelligent way to start getting the brand back on track, presenting a more human face and tackling the negative perceptions of big business. Look no further than the glowing reception McDonald’s Canada received for merely responding to a question on Twitter and creating a short behind-the-scenes video for a burger photoshoot.
However, the launch is notable for a particular absence. The Talking Shop will not feature a comment section for consumers to respond to the posts (although Tesco will invite “feedback, ideas and criticisms through the inclusion of social media buttons”). So how is the brand going to create trust if it refuses to give its consumers a voice?
It goes beyond mere social marketing faux pas. Tesco will go to lengths to create this valuable content, but should consumers wish to query, praise, criticise or join in, they have been told to go forth and do it elsewhere.
The value exchange dialogue should by now be recognised as a fundamental truth for any marketer, to build trust, and create those desired long-term connections with consumers. But this cannot happen if a brand insists on a one-way monologue: consumers are too empowered, too savvy and will talk to someone else about your brand if they cannot talk to you. The inevitable result is that nothing is learned and ultimately, nothing gained.
In this day and age, is Tesco really so afraid of having to deal with negative feedback from consumers? Why not invite it and demonstrate a real commitment to listen, admit failings and improve service? Denying consumers the opportunity to engage on your own channels encourages conversations you can’t monitor and ultimately opens the door for your rivals.
If Tesco really wants to get the trust back, it needs to start trusting its consumers first.