FGL Sports Limited
Touché! PHD Media
|Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):||April 29th – May 12th 2013|
|Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: ||April 29th 2013 |
|Base Period as a Benchmark: ||April 29th – May 12th 2012 |
Fast-Changing Retail Landscape
Sport Chek is Canada’s largest retailer for sport apparel and equipment with a network of 182 stores. However, in 2012, the retail landscape it had come to dominate was rapidly changing. Aggressive US retailers wanted in the game and their entrance was imminent. Canadians were increasingly taking the game elsewhere, flocking across border in search of a better deal. And most concerning for all brick-and-mortar retailers was the increase of showrooming - the practice of consumers browsing bricks-and-mortar stores to check out products, only to make cheaper purchases elsewhere online.
Creating A Meaningful Bond With People To Ensure Future Loyalty
Realizing the impeding risk of entering a price-driven war, Sport Chek wasn’t going to rest on its laurels. Instead it commissioned research to understand its relationship with consumers and take the offensive to future-proof its dominance in the market place. By investigating the current relationship Sport Chek had with its consumers, we quickly realized that although the retailer was successfully established, it had not created a connection with customers beyond price and convenience. Should competitors enter the market with more competitive prices, Sport Chek would have no other play than a margin-losing price war – which always results in more casualties than victors.
We knew we had to break away from the price & convenience paradigm in order to reinforce Sport Chek’s positioning as the Canadian authority in sport, maintaining sales growth of 5% year-over-year. To do so, we would need to forge a stronger bond with consumers and drive loyalty for the Sport Chek brand.
Providing Inspiration To A Better You
We identified the drive for betterment as a unifying motivator across all sports and decided to anchor our new brand platform on that powerful insight. In 2012, our new brand communications started to instil the need for self-improvement, inciting the passion for training and competition and acting as a call to action for viewers to get up and pursue their better.
The Opportunity For Mother’s day
When shoppers are thinking about the perfect gift for Mom on Mother's Day, their purchasing decisions are driven by a heartfelt hark of emotions. It thus seemed like a great opportunity for Sport Chek to increase their emotional bond with consumers. However, over the years, retailers have repeated every nostalgic Mom moment there is to tell. They remind shoppers of why Moms are special, why they deserve a special day, and that oh, here's an offer for the traditional gesture of gratitude for Moms (flowers, breakfast, etc). Result – everyone says and stands for the same thing, so nobody stands for anything when it comes to Moms and Mother’s day.
How do we stand out and spark contemplation over what it means to be a Mom in a way that's both emotionally meaningful and contextually relevant to the Sport Chek shopper?
The resulting business objective was clear. We needed to break away from uninspiring seasonal clichés to create an emotional connection with consumers and increase sales around Mother’s Day.
From a business standpoint, the objective was to leverage the Mother’s Day holiday to drive sales in key and relevant categories. Specifically, we aimed to cause a spike of 5.5% in comparative sales in 2013 versus the same time period in 2012.
From a communication standpoint, we aimed to strengthen Sport Chek’s brand affinity, by increasing the bond of the brand with athletes across the country.
$500,000 - $1 million
Understanding The Relevance Of Mother’s Day For Sport Chek Consumers
When looking at the target audience for this specific campaign, we realised that it’s not just moms that consumers are buying for on Mother’s Day. A survey by NRF found that they’re also purchasing gifts to give wives (24%), daughters (10%), grandmothers (8%), and sisters (8%). So our target audience had to encompass anyone buying gifts for the women in their lives. For Sport Chek that would mean people buying gifts for active women – Sport Chek calls them the “Achievers”.
Achievers’ parents have identified that sports play an integral role in the physical, mental and emotional upbringing of their children. The greater the involvement a child has with a sport, the greater the commitment from his / her parent has to be. Practices, occasional injury, and disappointment from defeat, are all things that an athlete’s parent will have to deal with. Moms play a special role in nurturing the interests and the passions of their children, and provide valuable moral and emotional support through the lows and highs of their sporting careers. They are the silent partners that ensure their kids never give up.
Athletes and their Moms develop an exceptional relationship that no Mother’s Day gift can live up to. So, how could we tap into that incredible bond to celebrate Mother’s Day?
A Meaningful Role To Play For Mother’s Day
We had to remind people about the heart-to-heart connection. In contrast to other retailers who simply exploit the frenzy of commercial activity surrounding Mother’s Day, Sport Chek had the chance to genuinely stand out by delivering an authentic message, celebrating the true meaning of the occasion.
Celebrating The Dedication Of Athletes’ Moms
The campaign aimed to celebrate the role Moms play in making their kids better athletes, reminding all achievers how important their Moms are in providing the inspiration, motivation and support they need on their athlete journey. In fact, behind every athlete, there is a Mom who knows what it takes to reach the top of his or her game.
As Sport Chek just signed an 8-year Olympic sponsorship, we decided to feature Canadian Olympic hockey player Meaghan Mikkelson and underscore the role her mom, Betsy, played in her development as an athlete. Who better than Olympians’ moms can represent the dedication to go above and beyond in helping shape the careers of their kids?
Choosing The Right Medium To Convey The Emotion
To bring this story to life, we needed a medium that could go beyond the usual Mother’s Day flyer and help us get those goose bumps we were after. We thus decided to produce a 30 second TV spot, making sure we could tell Meaghan’s story and create an emotional bond with consumers for the holiday. This was the first time that Sport Chek would undertake a TV commercial for Mother’s Day.
We chose TV as the main media vehicle to capitalize on Mother’s Day and create an emotional connection with our audience. To drive sales, the TV spot was also supported by flyer, a digital gift guide as well as in-store signage in Sport Chek stores across the country.
Cheering On Meaghan Mikkelson And Her Extraordinary Mom.
The campaign featured Canadian Olympic hockey player Meaghan Mikkelson and underscored the role her mom, Betsy, played in her development as an athlete. Growing up in Baltimore, Betsy wasn’t surrounded by hockey nor did she know much of anything about it. It wasn’t until Meaghan started playing that her Mom really began learning about the game. Hockey brought the mother and daughter duo closer together and Betsy became an essential figure for Meaghan to turn to for support throughout her career.
The spot aimed to bring their relationship to life featuring Meaghan enduring a punishing training routine while superimposing a phone message from her mother providing words of encouragement.
The visuals of Meaghan running, doing Cross Fit workouts, and dipping into an ice bath, were in direct contrast with the warm voice over from her Mom demonstrating how maternal support is necessary at all times, especially during gruelling training. The phone message was crafted in collaboration with Betsy Mikkelson so that it would be authentic and true to the way she actually supported her daughter’s development as an athlete. Our target audience could relate to these sentiments and recall similar words of inspiration, motivation and support they received from their own Moms.
The spot was supported by content on social media, a Mother’s Day flyer, an online gift guide, as well as POS in stores across the country. For these pieces, we captured key visuals of Meaghan during our TV shoot. The shots were high-intense shots of her training on & off the ice, in dynamic action and executed in a darkened environment with a red flare. For POS and flyer, the visuals of Meaghan were then accompanied by quotes from her Mom to be reflective of the story we told in TV.
The campaign was supported in media over a two-week period, from April 29th until May 12th 2013.
As Mother’s Day is a short time of the year, we decided to condense the buy over 2 weeks leading up to Mother’s day on May 12th. The buy was made for two-thirds on specialty networks (where we could best reach sports enthusiasts) as well as on conventional networks to reach mass audience in key cities across Canada (Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver).
Across all networks, we strongly targeted sports programing (TSN, Sportsnet, NHL Network, CBC Hockey Nights etc) and benefited from the fact that the campaign timing aligned with the NHL playoffs.
The short Mother’s Day blitz was followed up by a similar Father’s Day 2-week campaign in June, which helped reinforce the message in the consumer’s minds.
Despite Mother’s Day being a very competitive time of the year and having a media spend 35% smaller than the usual minimum spend by Sport Chek, the campaign managed to successfully exceed all expectations.
Sales Increased Significantly Around Mother’s Day
The campaign has driven a positive business impact, over-delivering on our objective of causing a 5.5% spike in comp sales in 2013 versus the same time period in 2012.
Year-On-Year % increase for Mother’s Day sales
Sales went through the roof as we achieved a 26% increase in week 14 and a 32% increase in week 15 versus the year before, delivering the best sales Sport Chek has ever realized for Mother’s Day, as well as exceeding business objectives for the period by over 20%.
Year-On-Year % increase for online traffic and sales
The campaign also saw great success online as Sport Chek’s website received significant lift in traffic and sales (week 14 & 15). The website sales increased by 81% during the week of May 6th versus the same week in 2012.
Comp sales of Women’s key Categories (2013 vs 2012)
We can also say that the overall sales increase wasn’t coincidental as we saw considerable increase in sales across key women’s gift categories such as yoga wear, athletic wear, casual wear and footwear.
We Created An Emotional Bond With Consumers
Beyond sales, the campaign also helped us achieve our communications objective of strengthening Sport Chek’s brand affinity with achievers. Research conducted after the campaign showed that consumers saw Sport Chek as a brand that supports the Moms behind every great athlete, and as a brand that is unique and differentiated. They enjoyed watching the ad and it gave them a good feeling about Sport Chek. (See following section for more details.)
We Received Strong Press Recognition
The campaign was praised by the press and received considerable PR coverage. The total number of impressions reached 6,768,853, which is worth an impressive $115K in ad value. Key networks such as Breakfast Television Calgary, CTV Calgary, Yahoo! Canada Sports, Yahoo! Canada, and the Globe and Mail all picked up the campaign.
By tapping into the deeply emotional story of Meaghan and her Mom, we managed to position Sport Chek as a brand that understands the impact Moms have in the develop of our athletes, allowing Sport Chek to play a meaningful role in the Mother’s Day celebration.
Post-test ad tracking (conducted by Sklar Wilton) showed that ‘Mother’s Day’ was one of Sport Chek’s most strongly recalled ad to date (despite a moderate amount of GRP’s) with 38% prompted recall.
Our ‘Mother’s Day’ ad also received solid ratings across most attributes. The main communication takeaway was that the ad ‘motivates you to be the best you can be’. The spot also worked hard at ‘giving a good feeling about Sport Chek’ and ‘making the company seem different from others’.
Finally, the ad resonated most strongly with Achievers (our core audience), especially in terms of message delivery and impact on perceptions of Sport Chek.
As mentioned, the media budget for the 2013 Mother’s Day campaign was 35% lower than Sport Chek’s usual advertising campaign budget. With lower GRP’s, we still managed to deliver outstanding results.
Sport Chek Promotions are consistent year-over-year which means there was no unusual promotions during the Mother’s Day season versus years before. The only promotion was offering free shipping on all Mother’s Day gift ideas, which is a recurring promotion.
The comparative sales data included in section 5 (business results) do not take into account expanded distribution so new stores did not influence the presented results.
Unusual Promotional Activity:
There was no unusual promotional activity in-store or online during the specified timeframe.
Other Potential Causes:
Gifting intentions for Mother’s day this year were not higher than usual. The “Mother’s Day Survey 2013” by BMO (Bank of Montreal) actually states that 68% of respondents were planning to give their mom a gift this year, down from 73% in 2012.
Sales of sporting goods in Canada did not particularly increase. Statistics Canada released numbers as part of “Retail Trade - May 2013” showing a marginal increase of 0.7% in May 2013 over May 2012 sales in sporting goods categories. In fact, sporting goods retailers are usually not top of mind for Mother’s Day. Florists, greeting card manufacturers and restaurants are the usual winners for Mother’s Day.