“For over 40 years, our brand has been part of Australia, so we’ve got some great heritage. But perhaps in recent years, we haven’t been as clear around what’s made our brand special and what our customer value proposition is,” CEO Angus McDonald told Inside Retail.
“Everyone who walks into a store is looking to barbeque just that little better, whether someone’s looking to buy their first or second barbeque. Or maybe they’re passionate and looking for a new smoker, a new accessory or there’s a new technique they want to apply – all those people want to barbeque better. If you care about barbequing well, then the expertise and the support of our team and range of our brands and the value we provide is the formula we can bring to deliver those expectations.”
That newly redefined brand proposition, which leverages staff knowledge and expertise, underpins other areas within the business, explained McDonald. An important part of the strategic review is the launch of an engagement platform, where it is easier for teams to provide their feedback and insights with the wider business.
“I’ve heard it said before that you can’t expect to have an engaged customer if you don’t have engaged team members,” he said. “That’s the centre of us recognising that we’ve got lots of experience and expertise and we want to do as much as we can to share it, both in terms of making sure we use the wisdom in how we craft our plans for the future, and making Barbeques Galore a better place to work. Then building on that is starting to re-investing in training and development for our team.”
Meanwhile, McDonald admitted that the brand has been slow to develop product, so now a key focus is accelerating that process by bringing into market new products from its private ranges, including Ziegler and Brown.
“Then the other piece we’re doing is focused on our backend systems and processes, making sure we’ve got the plumbing in place to deliver a seamless experience across all channels,” continued McDonald.
“We’ve been looking at our supply chain in terms of how we can improve our fulfilment capability for online but also fulfilment through our stores and how we integrate that with delivery, assembly services and the post-purchase services we provide once you have the product in your own patio.”
Earlier this month, Barbeques Galore also rolled out the first of its newly redesigned stores at Warringah Mall, which brings the brand’s personality to the fore. For example, in the centre of the new store is a large demonstration area set up like an outdoor kitchen known as “The Steakhouse”, where employees can fire up any barbeque and cook a meal for customers.
“We’ve got a whole business approach around how we reconnect and re-engage customers around our future and what it’s about,” said McDonald. “It’s not just a brand campaign, it’s not just an update to our store experience, it’s not just the introduction of new ranges or improvements we’re making to our back-of-house processes. It’s the alignment of all those pieces to deliver a better overall experience.”
Taking a leap
Since the pandemic hit, retailers have largely focused on cost-cutting; for a lot of businesses, now is not the time to make big investments in marketing. But according to Barbeques Galore chief marketing officer Mike Ainsworth, there’s a good case for some businesses to consider getting a foothold in their market right now.
“Why wouldn’t you invest it in times like this? I’d never advise recklessness, but if you have funds to invest, you absolutely should. It’s not the first recessional slowing of an economy. There are countless case studies that say spending during them makes a huge difference throughout [a crisis], and especially at the other end of it. A lot of people are pulling out, so you just need to invest the same amount of money and you’re doubling your share of voice,” Ainsworth said.
Danny Lattouf, partner at The General Store, echoed Ainsworth’s sentiment and noted the significance of brands stepping up in this current climate.
“So many retailers are sitting back, waiting and seeing what customers are going to dictate and what the future looks like,” he said. “Barbeques Galore was quite brave when they decided, ‘Let’s just go forward with our strategic counsel and execution and decide who we are, what we stand for and how we want people to see us, rather than waiting to see what happens next.’”
During the peak of the pandemic, Barbeques Galore continued to create content to engage with their customers. In fact, the day that Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared barbeques a no-go zone for Australians, the team quickly put together a video based on a ‘virtual barbeque’, which ultimately went viral.
“I was sitting at home, watching the news on Sunday night and the moment Scott Morrison banned barbeques, I just thought, ‘You’re kidding! Come on, man!’ It’s a fair statement though and we clearly respected that in the campaign,” said Ainsworth. “Covid-19 had just hit and we had just finished our brand platform, we were feeling brave and immediately thought, ‘Let’s respect the direction but let’s not give up on being Australian.’”
Twenty-four hours later, the Barbeques Galore and General Store teams had shot the virtual barbeque video on a minimal budget.
Several other videos followed, each focusing on the challenges of living through coronavirus and finding the humour in everyday situations, from trying to work from home with the kids to a home training video with steaks instead of dumbbells.
Collectively, the five videos attracted more than 2.5 million views, 7000 ‘likes’ and 5000 shares on social media.
“The campaign has definitely taught me that you can really get caught up in overthinking things, but in the end, you just need to know where your customers are at, what’s important to them and build something towards that. It will always have a profound impact,” said Ainsworth.
“It’s taught us to listen to your customers and what’s in their heart I guess. It’s pretty powerful.”