Quality assurance program yields 25% sales increase

One vancouver agency took an untraditional approach in its effort to change the image of Toys & Wheels, a $50-million toy store chain based in Port Coquitlam, near Vancouver.Instead of relying on advertising, the Glennie Stamnes agency built its $1-million image...

One vancouver agency took an untraditional approach in its effort to change the image of Toys & Wheels, a $50-million toy store chain based in Port Coquitlam, near Vancouver.

Instead of relying on advertising, the Glennie Stamnes agency built its $1-million image campaign around a quality assurance program designed to create immediate customer satisfaction at any one of the chain’s 75 stores across Canada.

The result of the agency’s two-year campaign has been a 25% increase in comparable sales figures since 1990, including a substantial increase in sales during last winter’s Christmas retail season.

Glennie Stamnes began its association with Toys & Wheels with a request to commission qualitative and quantitative market research.

‘The research told us to find a way to improve the general impression customers had about return policies at retail stories,’ Bob Stamnes says.

Core supplier

‘We also wanted to change the chain’s `one-off specialty store’ image toward one that showed that Toys & Wheels was a core supplier that stocked quality name brand toys,’ Stamnes says.

The agency decided that an in-store service program would improve the Toys & Wheels image by alleviating the perception most consumers had about returning toys, he says.

‘We achieved our objective by showing that customers would never have a problem returning products. We also showed that every employee would always have the decision power to make a decision on the spot to take the product back.’

To foster in-store support for the program, the agency developed a training video featuring employees in a game show format to help them role-play return situations.

To break through the clutter of the multi-colored in-store environment, large black-and-white end-of-aisle signs were made proclaiming ‘No Hassle Returns.’

Store employees were given toymaker aprons emblazoned with the new message.

Stamnes attended international toy shows and met top toy suppliers.

He came away with an agreement from Panasonic to supply Toys & Wheels with free Panasonic batteries in exchange for carrying the batteries exclusively.

Theme

To communicate the new policy, partner Rob Glennie then developed a campaign theme, ‘Batteries Now Included’ in print and radio advertising, some of which was supported through Panasonic’s co-operative advertising program.

The print ad shows a chain of batteries in place of a toy train on toy tracks.

In addition, the advertising went on to convey the main benefits of Toys & Wheels’ new customer service program, which included guaranteed competitive pricing, the no-hassle return policy and complete satisfaction or money back at all 75 stores.

The television and radio spots focussed on Toys & Wheels’ stock of name brand toys while print ads focussed on limited-time-offer promotions, including free gift wrapping and free batteries.

The research also provided the agency with enough information to target select homes located around a nearby Toys & Wheels store.

The direct mailing program was geared to only those home locations that most closely matched the profile of the target customer and their product needs.

10% increase

Glennies Stamnes was rewarded for its efforts the first year when an internal audit through the chain’s own point-of-sale software program showed an increase of 10% in sales volumes, according to Stamnes.

By tracking each product category, the Toys & Wheels report indicated the agency had succeeded in its effort to change the chain’s image to that of a national supplier of top quality brands.

The second year of the campaign showed yet another increase of 15% in comparable sales, according to Stamnes.

Most gratifying were increases in sales revenues in Eastern Canada and increases during last winter’s Christmas season.

Says Stamnes: ‘We got rid of quite a few batteries.’