The secret sauce fuelling Barbeques Galore customer loyalty approach

Australian barbeques retailer shares how it's building out a customer loyalty program to drive engagement

Recent years have witnessed a proliferation of points-based loyalty programs and spend-and-save offers as marketers have sought to create more regular engagements with customers.

But for Barbeques Galore, where the average purchase cycle for a new barbeque is seven to eight years, establishing more regular engagement with customers has been a challenging proposition.

So when chief executive officer, Angus McDonald, and his team set about considering a customer loyalty program, they knew they would need something more than another points offering. They also knew if Barbeques Galore did not step up to the challenge, someone else might.

“What we are seeing is growth of a much more engaged customer in our category,” McDonald tells CMO. “People’s relationship with food is changing and a willingness to explore new and different styles of cooking is a really exciting part of our category.

“There are so many different things you can cook on a barbeque and so many different ways you can do it. There are also so many different types of barbeques you can use to deliver that experience, including ways to use a barbeque with rubs and sauces, accessories and so on.”

Rising interest in barbequing is translating to an exciting opportunity for the business, with McDonald noting Australians have begun purchasing additional units such as smokers and kettles to sit alongside traditional barbeques. In turn, that’s fuelled interest in learning what they can do with new cookers.

What was obvious, however, was the traditional transactional loyalty program wouldn’t create the types of relationship Barbeques Galore was looking to build. Research demonstrated the importance of building a sense of community, which led the retailer to investigate how that could be translated into an engaged audience around its brand.

“We are looking to build a much more emotional connection with our customers and to build a community around all that’s great about barbequing in Australia,” McDonald says.

The result is the Barbeque Legends Club, an online community providing members with information and access to more than 30 free courses enabling them to share their passion for barbequing.

“The Barbeque Legends Club we are setting up is all about helping to connect with people that are looking to become more immersed in the category, whether they are a beginner or an advanced barbequer,” McDonald says.

The Club also offers access to classes with award-winning barbequers and opportunities to participate in paid face-to-face and online masterclasses. Barbeques Galore has been recruiting members through its social and email channels and via a group of ambassadors.

“It’s early days but we already have thousands of members on the online community and we are seeing some early active engagement. We are looking to continue to focus on those new members and getting them engaged in the program,” McDonald says. “Between now and Christmas, we will be active every week with content, launching classes and doing other online events. Now that we are starting to get through the pandemic, we’ll be getting back to in-person events as well.”

Importantly, the club is already driving the ongoing engagement McDonald and his team have been seeking and creating commercial opportunities through the sale of barbeques and related products.

“There are lots of opportunities for us to continue to work with a customer between barbeque purchases and have them coming back to our stores, for rubs and sauces and other consumables,” McDonald says. “But also, any time there is new technology coming to the category, there is an opportunity to introduce that to our members first as well.

“This is about us maintaining an ongoing engagement with our customers, rather than just seeing them every seven to eight years when they decide they want a new barbeque.”

The program is one of a series of renovations McDonald and his team has undertaken since he joined Barbeques Galore from Super Retail Group in mid-2019. The company has updated and modernised its in-store experience, including rolling out new formats, and has transformed its product range. It's also taking hefty steps to invest in ecommerce and build out its own marketplace.

“We’ve been very focused on introducing new and innovative and exclusive products into our business,” McDonald says. “And we have done a lot of work on systems and processes and that has led to some heavy investment in technology.”

Those investments include a new ERP system and the acquisition of Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud solutions.

“That is giving us far better capability in terms of how we connect to our customers in the omnichannel world of retail,” McDonald says. “But the critical piece that pulls it altogether is our brand. We had to do some work to much more clearly define what it was that made Barbeques Galore unique and special, and that allowed us to stand apart from our competitors in the market.”

That led to creation of a new customer value proposition and new brand campaign in 2021, with the accompanying advertising campaign winning silver at the Sydney Design Awards 2021. Barbeques Galore was also named among the 20 coolest retailers by Inside Retail magazine last year.

That work has also led to creation of Barbeque Legends.

“The beautiful thing about what we are creating here, is that it is a genuine community of likeminded people that are passionate about barbequing, and so we are already seeing naturally people sharing content and ideas,” McDonald says. “That is what is so exciting. The category itself is growing because the participation is very different to what it was some time ago.”

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