Keith Norris Award - Direct Marketing Organisation of the Year
Entry Rationale
Countdown, one of the three big brands in the New Zealand grocery sector, operates 184 supermarkets nationwide. Each store offers a unique set of several thousand weekly specials for purchase in store or online.

Each week, Countdown uses mass-market communications such as traditional unaddressed letterbox advertising (mailers), and TV and radio ads to tell Kiwis about weekly specials - a tall task with so many specials, each appealing to a different subset of New Zealanders.

myCountdown launched in 2014 as Countdown's point of difference to mass-market communications. Driven by customer preference and transaction data, overlaid with segmentation and propensity modelling, the myCountdown email and web programme represented a significant investment, giving Countdown the ability to talk one-to-one with shoppers in a highly personalised, relevant way.

Countdown's direct digital strategy is driven by an agile approach based on continued investment and an ongoing improvement of the programme (6-month periods are planned, reviewed monthly, monitored and discussed weekly). To better understand the success drivers, they constantly monitor incremental sales, email open rates and engagement, analysing customer behaviour and factors within the month that contributed to that success.

Entering the FY16 financial year, the challenge Countdown set itself was to drive significantly more value to the already profitable segment of myCountdown customers. This included a lift in spend within the existing myCountdown audience, while also increasing email open and engagement rates. At a broader level, there was also a focus on increasing the size of Countdown's email able customer base to have more conversations with Countdown customers on a daily basis.

To execute Countdown's objectives for FY16, a development framework was established to create a roadmap for innovation and enhancements. Recognising the unprecedented ability of one-to-one conversations to seed, nurture and drive behavior change, Countdown’s direct marketing focus was two-fold: enhance mechanisms for communication delivery; and refine and enrich its direct communication programmes.

Underlying this framework were four key elements:

• Best in class infrastructure to deliver customers the best one-to-one multi-channel customer
   journey and experience with the Countdown brand.
• Streamlined registration process to start the conversation with new Countdown customers as
   quickly and as simply as possible.
• Embark on developing the Countdown conversation with new email customers, to ultimately
   convert them to the data-driven myCountdown programme.
• Nurture new and existing myCountdown customers to lift engagement rates across the base.

Driven by its brand purpose ‘to make Kiwis lives a little better every day’ and its commitment ‘to make things easy’, Countdown’s strategic intent has been to continually enhance, improve and refine every aspect of the customer experience – and it has delivered outstanding success, both for customers and the business.

The judges rated this an excellent entry that demonstrated the direct programme is at the heart of the organisation and is a key strategic asset. And one that is delivering a great customer-centric and highly personalised customer experience. “What is really impressive,” they said, “is the value data insights have had in not just driving communication but better business decisions that further deliver results.”