January 15, 2019

Home from home

img_20181228_100504Where do you think the above snap was taken? Don’t look too hard as otherwise you will spoil the fun!

I’m hoping that you zoned in on the all-too recognisable Heinz tomato ketchup and thought the photo was perhaps taken in my local supermarket. Well, not quite. I took this picture in my Xmas holidays spent in the coastal area close to Malaga on the Costa del Sol. It is the heartland for ex-pat Brits and it was all too easy to find those little creature comforts of familiar foods readily available in the Mercadona next to the villa we were renting.

With all the chaos created by Brexit (at the time of writing, it is all very much up in the air), the number of Brits living in Spain has actually dropped. According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), in the last five years, the number of British residents in Spain has dropped from 397,892 to 240,785 – a fall of 157,107. However, for someone who has no point of comparison, it felt like British presence was still a feature of the landscape in Cala de Mijas where we stayed.

I had a lot of fun ambling around the supermarkets, trying to spot the items catering to the Brits. Here are some of the treasures I found.

Brussels sprouts – of course! Well, it was Christmas.

img_20181228_100414And fancy a curry – albeit with salmon – but I guess fish is pretty hard to avoid in coastal Spain.


Can you spot the bacon in the centre of the bottom shelf?

img_20181228_101327Spot the wannabe After Eights on the top shelf?img_20181228_100233But there were also some delicacies clearly aimed at the local residents. The below is not my cup of tea.

img_20181228_100726And out in the streets, there other similar indicators of Brit presence.

img_20181228_110112But I want to use my final photo to highlight a new dynamic reverberating in the area. Having chatted with a local (Irish!) estate agent, it seems that Scandis are the new big kids on the block since an airline started added direct flights between Norway and Malaga. So in the Mercadona, amongst the bacon and baked beans, I also found the dark rye grainy bread so beloved of Scandinavians.


I can’t say that I saw any pickled fish, but that’s probably coming!

May 25, 2016

The Big Shop

Time for me to be ‘untrendy’. When we hear about how grocery shopping habits are changing, it’s all about ‘a little and often’ and how we are falling out of love with the big weekly shop.

Well, I would like to tell you about a recent visit I made to a new supermarket that is not all about convenience trips, but somewhere very big (80, 000 sq foot). It’s the Sainsbury’s store at Westwood Cross in Thanet, which opened in November 2014. As I have explored in other posts, Thanet is more worthy of exploration and evaluation than you might at first think on encountering a part of the country which is flat till it reaches the muddy grey sea and populated by people who are older and/or less affluent than their other Kentish peers.

Sainsbury land

I have been meaning to check out this Sainsbury’s for some time now as its arrival was heralded with much fanfare (it would create jobs, require changing the local road system, be the epitome of the latest and best in sustainable design etc). I found this nice leaflet online which helps to give a sense of how the store was a big deal. Note in particular the community initiatives – which I assume were meant to help make the new supermarket be part of the local scene, rather than to create a scene. But I must confess I am little underwhelmed by the employment of just one local construction management trainee and the donation of soil to a local campsite to help construct a new golf course!

Going inside the store itself was sadly also rather underwhelming. Walking through the threshold with a sense of great anticipation, past the plug-ins for electric vehicles (setting false expectations for something quite different), it was still a Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury car park

This meant nice enough clothes and household goods, and nice food, but failing to give the impression of an emporium teeming with a rich abundance of exciting items. The aisles were very wide – not doubt good for avoiding trolley crashes – but it compounded the sense of emptiness you get from looking at shelves which could be fuller.

Sainsbury inside

However, it was not a fruitless journey as I did manage to find an item I had never come across before and wasn’t even looking for: giant couscous. Have you ever tried it? NB not worth the trip to Westcross!

August 25, 2014

This is not an advertisement

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Marketing — by xrematon @ 6:34 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I have been doing some research around the area of content marketing. It’s a very active field with lots of going on. In fact, I would probably say it’s pretty hyped up at the moment. I don’t mean to deny its value (I actually think it has a lot going for it), but it strikes me that on many occasions people ‘do’ content marketing for the wrong reasons.
Those reasons relate to basic human nature. If your idea of content marketing is producing an online film to go viral (a presumptuous ambition to have in the first place), then you might think you are setting yourself up for having some fun and who wouldn’t want to do that? I don’t wish to claim expertise on what make something go viral, but an uncontroversial requirement is that it is enjoyable – think of the Tippex ad , or Old Spice , or Evian babies .
Another factor that makes content marketing alluring is that it helps you look cool. It lets the brand in question puts itself in the centre of what is getting everyone’s attention at that moment. The following is a telling quote from the editor of now abandoned People.co.uk site: “I want to put clients in the context of the zeitgeist.” Perhaps I am pushing it but I hope you get the idea.
I think the reality of content marketing is that it is a lot of hard work to do it well. Coca Cola, who are very very big on ‘content’ (check out this video to get their take on it), have ditched the standard corporate website for something that is very content rich. Instead, Coca Cola has the Journey, which featured more than 1,200 pieces of content in the first year – doing that is very different to updating some pages every week or so. And I haven’t even touched upon Coca Cola’s main marketing activity: all the ads, posts, tweets, films, events etc it carries out across the globe to keep people entertained and talking about and around the brand.
And having looked at many different examples of content marketing in an attempt to find case studies worth discussing, what are my favourites? Well, I must confess I am going to put in a plug for the unsexy but very useful supermarket magazines. It’s all too easy to forget they count as content marketing. They have been around for several decades now and are actually pretty huge. They are in the top ten of all most circulated magazines in the UK with the publications from Tesco and Asda at their head.
Supermarket magazines are not flashy but they are valued by their audience and give the impression they really get the world of their customers, pondering great unanswerables such as ‘how do I make healthy, tasty, inexpensive food on a daily basis’, ‘how I get through daily chores without losing it’, ‘how can my family and I make the most of our time together’ ad infinitum.
Pretty compelling stuff – at least it is to me – a sometime suburban housewife.

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