Coles Little Shop is one of the greatest retail marketing campaigns of all time

From organic reach to persuasive brand loyalty, the Coles Little Shop promotion ticks every single box on the marketer's dream wish list, argues Algo Mas' Julie Wrobel.

My 19-month-old twins are too young to care about Coles Little Shop, although we’ve still been caught up in the craze. So why is Little Shop one of the greatest retail marketing campaigns ever?

Wide market appeal

The campaign is aimed at children but let’s be honest, what parent doesn’t get a buzz from unwrapping a Little Shop packet to find a coveted mini Oak inside? So while our kids encourage us to shop at Coles, it’s an easy sell as we want to complete the set just as much as they do.

Increased average transaction

Last week I purchased two Snickers bars at the Coles check-out to increase my $57.80 shop to over $60 so I’d be eligible for two Little Shop packets instead of one. I don’t even like Snickers.

Brand loyalty

As well as the Coles Little Shop minis there’s an extended product range of Little Shop Accessories including a Collector’s Case and Coles trolley (all branded of course), most of which sold out early in the campaign and are being hawked on eBay for $100 plus. These Coles accessories and minis are now in doll houses and our kids’ pretend play is peppered with Coles branded free range eggs. Children are apparently exposed to between 500 and a whopping 5,000 brand messages a day. Coles figured out a way to create brand loyalty right there in little Sally’s play room, even when the TV and iPad are off.

Organic reach

Marketers often talk about organic marketing, the act of growing customers and brand recognition without paid advertising. The Coles Little Shop campaign has created, organically, a secondary market of swap meets and recess time trade-offs, extending the campaign’s reach. Families are rallying together to collect full sets for the grandkids. Gumtree gurus are cashing in selling complete sets for up to $1000 and at least 20 Coles Little Shop Facebook groups have been created, one has 22,000 members. A search for “Coles Little Shop” in Google returned over 702,000 results.

Despite the backlash against the unnecessary plastic packaging and the ethics of promoting brands to three-year-olds, who for some reason will now only eat John West tuna (sorry Sirena), the campaign has been a huge success, with Woolworths recently blaming Coles Little Shop as a reason for poor 2019 Q1 sales.

Oh, and if anyone has a spare Nutella, I have plenty of Weet-Bix, Chobani and bananas to trade… email me at juliew@algomas.com.au.

Julie Wrobel is the managing director of branding and communications studio, Algo Mas. This piece first appeared here.


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