Asda’s cross-platform media brief is from the very heart of the retailers’ marcomms strategy, existing to support the brand's position as the destination supermarket for customers who want to ‘Save Money, Live Better’. It delivers quality and value messaging, as well as addressing the barriers that stand in the way of customers living their best lives.
Asda Magazine needed to showcase the retailer’s product range, engage readers and inspire them to try new recipes, ultimately driving footfall and web traffic to purchase products and services.
Alongside the core food offering, Asda Magazine also communicates the retailer's ‘one-stop family shop’ philosophy, showcasing the breadth of the non-food range. Finally, the brief is to communicate ASDA's sustainability messaging, and live and breathe those values through environmentally-friendly production and distribution of their print material.
This brief resonated with us. Hearst’s experience of nurturing a content relationship with large audiences across multiple platforms through its media brands such as Good Housekeeping, the subject matter aligned with our deep expertise around food and lifestyle content.
The HCA team works closely with Asda to ensure the data and insight at their fingertips is used to create an effective content strategy. Ongoing, the HCA team collaborates with Asda’s wider agency network to share insight and performance data to optimise future strategy and plans. HCA tracks and monitors those who interact with the brand through TGI, PamCo and other profiling and attitudinal tools. To craft a truly customer-centric content strategy, Hearst has created a reader panel which allows us to conduct reader surveys, test creative, run polls and questionnaires, assess brand health and benchmark performance.
ASDA’s marketing team has a clear audience view and brand guidelines which our team adopted. Content is lively, digestible and family-friendly. Consumer insight led us to focus on an overarching content strategy that helps customers who are shopping to a fixed budget; preparing quick, nutritious meals when short on time; keeping healthy, and helping to improve their cooking skills.
To meet these needs and showcase ASDA’s focus on quality and value, we created three new franchises; ‘1 Basket, 5 Meals,’ a recipe feature that provides five midweek meals to feed a family of four under £25 ‘Make it,’ a collection of targeted inclusive, convenient and healthy recipes; and ‘How to,’ a series of essential step-by-step cookery skills for beginners.
Field-to-fork provenance stories help assure customers of ASDA’s top-notch produce. Quality and range perceptions have also been changed through bespoke content partnerships forged by HCA with the Hairy Bikers, Jean-Christophe Novelli, Briony Williams and Annabel Karmel among others.
We started creating bespoke videos with Insta-chef Miguel Barclay of One Pound Meals in 2019 to capitalise on his vast digital reach and to introduce a new audience to Asda’s quality ingredients and value proposition. Aspirational, bespoke photography brings the brief to life, and our team ensure the best talent – photographers, stylists, videographers, designers and illustrators – work on the brand.
Away from food, Asda Magazine's lifestyle content also tackles important topics such as mental health, community-building, and sustainable retailing practices, showcasing Asda's breadth outside of the weekly food shop. In line with Asda's pledge to reduce plastic usage, since April we have committed to using a fully compostable, biodegradable vegetable starch wrap when additional publications are inserted with the magazine.
Continually striving to improve, in Jan 2020 we redesigned the magazine with fresh, bold creative, new editorial franchises, as well as confidently re-branding as Asda magazine with a new masthead. Content is created efficiently with the full eco-system in mind so it appears seamlessly throughout the brand’s platforms. The content calendar is seasonally driven in print, and the website provides an evergreen hub where visitors have a vast amount of content at their disposal across food, style, home, family and community too.
Asda magazine is distributed through the stores and is the UK’s highest-circulating monthly lifestyle magazine with 1.9m copies. Over on the website, there were 3.1m users and 7.26m unique page views – a growth of 39% from Feb-19 to Jan-20. On Instagram to date, we’ve secured 388.2k followers – a growth of 34% in the last six months. Instagram reach has grown from 1.6m to 3.5m in the past year, reflective of our improved creative including long-form videos, such as our popular Kids' Kitchen franchise.
ROI is strong. With figures last year showing a 0.4% uplift in food sales, the content has directed resulted in millions of pounds worth of sales and delivered an estimated ROI of £20-£25. Featured products show a sales impact of up to +6.8%.
Furthermore, qualitative research found 91% of customers surveyed were encouraged to buy a product after reading about it, and Asda Magazine changed their view on Asda, improving perception on price, value and range. The survey suggested 90% found our photography visually appealing, while 75% agreed that our content showcased the quality of Asda’s product.