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Convenience stores trying to attract more women, especially moms, to their stores should spend more time in front of the computer, paying close attention to Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
According to a survey by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA), conducted by BIGresearch, women with children at home are more likely to use Facebook (60.3 percent), MySpace (42.4 percent) and Twitter (16.5 percent) than average adults (50.2 percent, 34.4 percent and 15 percent respectively). A significant 15.3 percent of moms also maintain their own blog.
"Retailers that aren't engaging customers through social media could be missing the boat," said Mike Gatti, executive director of RAMA. "Twitter, Facebook and blogs are becoming increasingly popular with moms as they search for coupons or deals, and keep in touch with loved ones. The Web provides efficient, convenient ways for brands to stay in front of their most loyal shoppers and attract new ones."
One of my friends (in the flesh and on Facebook) recently became a Wawa fan on Facebook. "I did it for fun and to show support," this stay-at-home mother of a preschooler, who lives in Delaware, told me recently.
She's not alone in her public praise. "When I became a fan of Wawa," she told me, "I noticed many of my local Facebook 'friends' were already fans."
Wawa maintains two "official" Facebook pages, one corporate and one for careers. At last count, there were more than 180 groups and pages created by fans.
Today, positive word-of-mouth often means positive words that are posted or tweeted. A customer's good word about a particular product or service reaches hundreds -- or thousands -- of other likely customers in seconds.
Elsewhere online, retailers such as Rutter's, Sheetz, Kum & Go, RaceTrac and 7-Eleven are active tweeters, using the media to push products, strengthen the brand and customer ties, and recruit employees.
Recently, RaceTrac followers learned about a celebrity sighting at a store (rapper 50-Cent stopped in). 7-Eleven typically tweets messages such as: "Quesadilla and coffee, $2.99" or "Looking for a District Manager in NJ. Bachs & 3-5 yrs exp."
These messages are not ignored. Moms frequently use social media to share experiences and information. Nine out of ten (93.6 percent) mothers say they regularly or occasionally seek the advice of others before buying a service or product, according to the RAMA survey polling 4,206 women last spring with children at home under age 18. A staggering 97.2 percent said they give advice to others about those products or services they purchased.
7-Eleven, Kum & Go and others have used Twitter to build customer feedback by speaking directly to individuals, while simultaneously reaching all their Twitter followers. When one 7-Eleven follower tweeted "she was inside a Slurpee," the retail chain responded to her: "Wow, that must be cold. Talk about brain freeze" -- and everyone following 7-Eleven's tweets witnessed the exchange.
After Kum & Go Twitter follower SCJMollyM tweeted "bought one of those refillable cups @KumandGo and it rocks! Saves me a nice chunk of change each time I get coffee..." Kum & Go responded "Keep your eye out for another refillable mug offer @ KG for 2010 -- great deal for those that drink coffee/ftn on a regular basis!"
While social media appeal to all types of customers, retailers would be remiss if they didn't tailor some of their messages to good ol' tired, but wired, mom.