Social SOS.

November 2019

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Clarion Clever Research

How are independent & convenience retailers stores using social media to grow their business?

We’ve been busy the past few months, getting under the skin of independent and convenience retailers to find out what makes them tick when it comes to using social media for business growth.

So, whether you’re a brand wanting to tap into this area; a retailer looking to launch your store on social; or just looking for a bit of insight, read below to find out more.

The power of social media has never been greater!

1 in 5

would welcome more content
inspiration from brands

Retailer social Sos.

Whether you use it as a news source, to shop, or simply connect with friends, there’s no getting away from the fact that social is an ingrained part of everyday life. Try imagining life without it. (*breaks out in sweat*).

Yes, the growth of active social media users in the UK is slowing, but that’s because so many of us already use it, which is why platforms such as Twitter and Instagram are now such an essential part of so many business strategies, providing new and exciting ways to engage with customers. But how are independent and convenience store retailers using social media to grow their business?

That’s the question we asked ourselves when we donned our digital and trade comms hats and decided to take a closer look at how grocery retailers in the UK are using social media to aid business growth. More specifically, independent and convenience retailers – otherwise known as the linchpins of local communities.

69% of retailers see untapped social media opportunity.

A key take out for us is that 69% of retailers see the growing importance of social media to their business. And, whilst 1 in 3 are now active, averaging 3.7 hours per week, over half of those not active say they don’t have the time nor expertise to make the most of the opportunity.

The study of 250 independent and symbol group retailers across the UK shows the main reason for social use is to connect with their customers. Nearly half use social to hear about new products, with a further 24% specifically using social to decide what products to stock. Facebook is the most used platform, most likely due to scale, functionality and familiarity, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and WhatsApp.

What’s more, 70% of those active have dedicated social media pages for their stores, with the majority (88%) creating their own content, 22% sharing content published by a brand and another 1 in 5 sharing content published by the trade press.

1 in 5 would welcome more content inspiration from brands.

Despite the growing interest in social by retailers, they lag behind other industries and general consumer use – a staggering 67% of the population use social.

Conversely, retailers also continue to rely on more traditional trade media formats, with 71% of those surveyed rating trade magazines as their most important source of business information, followed by trade press online (47%), word of mouth (50%) and sales reps (43%). Here’s what our very own Amanda Meyrick, CEO at Clarion had to say:

“Brands often forget that retailers are consumers too. We live in a digital world so of course social media is having an increased impact on their businesses. Whilst the majority rely on the all-important traditional channels, there is an untapped opportunity for brands to assist self-confessed time poor trade partners in helping them to build their social profiles to grow their businesses.”

Which poses one final question?


How can we help these retailers get their feet on the social media ladder and
help them really engage with their
local communities?

Here are some of Clarion’s top tips:


Choosing the right channel

Facebook has lots of native features that retailers could capitalise on for free e.g. offers, locations, branded content, and easy access ads. However, for certain retailers there is still value in other channels.



As well as creating the right presence and profile, it’s important retailers create content that gives customers a reason to visit their pages, and consistently to make it worthwhile. The worst thing a retailer can do is set up a channel and leave it unattended without activity.


Community-first content

A key, and cost-effective opportunity for retailers is to engage with their local community and local conversation on social. This will provide quick and easy content that’s hyper-relevant, includes their direct customer base and strengthens relationships on a local level. e.g. sharing community news, sponsoring local clubs/5-a-side etc. and creating exclusive offers to select local audiences.


Adding relevance through paid

Organic reach is increasingly low. Without some form of paid support, the value of creating social content will be confined. Paid does not need to be very expensive and also means that retailers can make their content more relevant to specific audiences, generating considerable wider reach.

If you’re a brand wanting to tap into this area; a retailer looking to launch your store on social; or you just fancy a bit of a social chat, then please do get in touch.