The Real marketing team managed to ruin their brand in such a way, that they had to pull out of the Polish market. How did they do that?
When hypermarkets appeared in Poland in the late 1990's, they had a mass of clients and little competition. They did not even need to advertise themselves, because of their strategic positions in and around the Polish cities. Everyone knew where to find them.
But with competition on the rise after 2005, the hypermarkets had to try harder to keep clients happy. But Real did not try harder. While other hypermarkets updated the appearance of their shops and products, Real made things worse by introducing dominant and aggressive yellow and red banners 'Oferta' and 'Promocja' and putting them everywhere. Their cheap home brand Tip got worse looking packaging than Real Germany.
When their shops started to loose clients, they introduced a home 'quality' brand Real Quality, which in fact looked like the cheap home-products line of competitors like Tesco.
When it was obvious that the Polish consumer did not just want low prices, but also a pleasant shopping experience, Real kept relying on their uninviting banners and packaging.
In 2010 they launched a campaign that was to improve their image, but it was late and still too little.
In 2011 I got involved in trying to sell Real new concepts that would improve their image and looks. They shared a secret internal report, which concluded that people living in the direct neighbourhood of a Real shop, preferred to drive a few kilometers further to a competitor than to go shopping at Real ...
The Real marketing team felt insulted when I suggested they should get rid of their banners and billboards in the current form, and change the packaging style of both their home 'budget' and 'quality' line.
They agreed however on the idea to add one or more characteristic figures to be connected to their brand; their competitors had a cartoon couple (Tesco), talking cartoon fruits and vegetables (Biedronka) and Real had tried something with talking animals, but they where just normal animals with a voice-over.
Real more or less agreed on my idea to use cartoon figures based on banknotes and coins with limbs and faces. Papa & mama banknote, two or three coins as kids. It could have worked out nicely, if they would not have insisted on using wallets instead of banknotes and coins. This was the moment I asked to be taken off the project, because no one listened to my argument, that wallets had too complex shapes to become lovable characters.
I thereafter watched the S4 agency Real team struggle with those wallets, trying to shape them into something presentable. The development took a few months, in which the agency lost more than 55.000 euro in expenses. Drawings, 3D renderings, 3D animations. Changes, adaptations, changes.
The wallet idea could not be brought to life, Real did not change anything in their shops.
The next year they pulled out of the Polish market and their shops were taken over by Auchan.
Real had all chances. Good locations, a good offer, brand awareness.
Arrogance, ignorance, and conservatism do not promise any brand a bright future.
Real shops were saturated with unappealing banners and home brand packaging.
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