Groceries and Affiliate Marketing, sitting in a tree….

Who would’ve thought grocery shopping and affiliate marketing could do a really cool mashup?

Well, a bit of backstory first – this winter (2022) is going to be nasty. If you haven’t prepared for it, get doing so. Mind you, by “nasty”, that depends upon whether you live in affluent areas with a recession proof job, or in less developed parts of the world, but an unlikely company is pulling off the mashup as a strategy to keep its price-elastic business high in an inflationary and recessionary time before things get really rough. Marks and Spencer isn’t actually, but is seen as an ever so “middle-class”* grocery and department store. However, it’s already using its Spark app to get its clientele used to looking there and to them as the place to get really nice stuff cheaper. And utilizing the family econometric module, it’s working a treat**!

Not only are the offers nicer than the Teutonic competition (Aldi, Lidl, Netto) but also seen as being superior – higher quality – to the other, more established competitors, all of whom are normally seen as being cheaper than M&S. Thing is, the M&S offers are coming in cheaper than the ordinary offers by the usual suspects (Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, etc) whilst being seen as better.

But also this “mashup” thing? Lately I’ve become a big fan of music mashups that shouldn’t work but do, and this from me who sees disrespecting the music as being tantamount to artistic heresy, and yet some of this works tremendously. Look out for the ones that combine, for example AC/DC with the Bee Gees, or the Stayin’ Alive mashup with Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” – brilliant!

Bill McClintock Mashups – sheer genius!

Maybe one has to be of a certain age to appreciate the craft and the humor, but, for other of the “people of a certain age”, these are what mashups are.

Now, what has that got to do with Marks and Spencer? They have combined special offers that are actually cheaper than competitors with affiliate marketing, pitching products and services that aren’t theirs. 50% off English Heritage is an example. The British middle class love walking around a period property, an old, restored castle or similar and a membership in English Heritage to do this has traditionally been seen as a reassuringly expensive luxury. Marks’s did a deal to chop it in half – making it more affordable for many – kept their customers eyes on their app as the place where cool stuff has its price chopped, and earned a commission from the affiliate (English Heritage, who also know the shit’s about to hit the fam [sic]).

But Marks’s has brilliantly ticked all the marketing boxes for its target market – contribs to charity, chance to win stuff, login for offers (with attendant data collection and analysis), etc, all reinforcing the “look here first before planning your shop”.

Do we care? Well, yes, personally I’ve benefited getting nice stuff cheaper, but on a wider level, the competition will not stand still. The timing is good as Tesco Clubcard, the industry leader for this sort of thing has gotten not just fat and lazy recently – in-store deals must use a Clubcard, yet its mobile app is a pain to setup and vastly intrusive – the deals aren’t as generous as in times past. But Lidl has launched its (WAY more painful-to-use***) loyalty card, and even the dozy Nectar card might even wake up and become more than a data slurper. As long as competition yields more ways to save money, consumers benefit. And other than that, nothing else matters. We don’t care who has the best deals, we want good deals – it’s the job of business to deliver those deals. One day they’ll**** realize it’s the good deals we’re loyal to, not the brand.

* For Americans, that’s the upper 10% of society in the UK.
** British English: “Doing well”
*** Requiring internet access to use it whilst standing in their store’s Faraday cages is NOT clever design.
**** Looking at you sternly, Tesco….