Brand Feedback Series: Publix

Why I Love Publix


The world can be a tough place to exist in nowadays. Religion, politics, parenting styles, and relationships do their best to tear us apart and pit us against each other. But if there’s one thing that people in the south can unit over, it’s our mutual love for PUBLIX!


I grew up in a Publix family. We shopped all of our grocery items there, and the only time we ever left the confines of it’s comfort to brave one of its lesser rivals was when we needed something like a pool float or DVD player. Between their infamous Pub Subs, free cookies from the deli, BOGO deals, and friendly employees clad in nostalgic green vests, shopping at Publix truly is “a pleasure.”


A Lasting Impact


Publix is known not only for their incredible customer service, but also for their community service. One of the Hallmark’s of the company is their desire to be actively involved in the communities in which their stores are located. Most recently, the corporate office donated an incredible $5 million to Habitat for Humanity (one of the many charities they support)! I don’t know about you, but I sure feel good supporting a company whose causes are so important to them. 

Pub 1.png

Beyond their charitable causes, Publix is known for the amazing employees they hire! I’ll never forget Joe Skipper. He was the “seafood guy” at my Publix in Ormond Beach, Florida for as long as I can remember. Because I grew up going to the same Publix most of my life, Mr. Skipper knew my face and my name, and walking past the seafood counter was always such a treat. Unfortunately, Mr. Skipper passed away a few years ago, but I have no doubt that he impacted countless customers and fellow employees.


Hitting The Market (No Pun Intended)

So at this point, you’ve probably grasped the fact that I totally love Publix! But despite their amazing employees and charitable causes, Publix, like all other companies, has to put in work to keep their brand cohesive and reach their target audience.


I’ll start with the positive and give kudos where they’re due. The Publix marketing department is incredible at providing quick and positive responses to customer inquiries. And these aren’t just generic responses – they’re well researched and it’s obvious that Publix makes an effort to accept every chance they have to interact with their customers. They’re also very consistent on their 3 main platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Scroll through any of Publix’s feeds and you will find that they post every 1-3 days. Impressive!


Check out this response to a woman concerned about the ethics behind the eggs. 

Pub 2.png


The Face Behind The Name


So with me singing Publix’s praises, you may be wondering when the heck I’m going to get to the part that needs improvement. Well, we’ve arrived.


The first thing I noticed scrolling through all of Publix’s feeds is that while they share a lot of yummy seasonal recipes and shopping tips, I didn’t see the faces of any real people. The very first thing I do when considering using a service or brand is go to their social media pages to see the people behind the company. Who will be helping me, do they look trustworthy, and do they like their job? Relationship is at the heart of everything we do, so why not put the faces of people like Mr. Skipper out there for the world to see? Publix should consider starting a temporary or seasonal campaign called  “Population: Publix” or “People Of Publix,” in which once a week they showcase employees of the month, celebrate employees for their longevity and anniversaries with the brand, and show that they value the people who make their stores so great! 

Pub 3.png

Media Influencers



But, Publix should also realize that there are people outside of their company who can bring value to the brand as well! Take for example, blogger Mix and Match Mama (AKA Shay Shull). She is a southern wife and mother who centers her blog around cooking, family, faith, and fashion. How easy would it be for Shay to share a short post on her blog using a Publix recipe? She could even just share a brief Insta-story about how one of Publix’s “Aprons” recipes saved the night after a crazy day, and include a “swipe up link.” The amount of influence that social media celebs have nowadays is mind boggling, but I can nearly guarantee that if some of Shay’s faithful followers saw that she is a fan of Publix’s recipes, they would be running down the aisles to grab the same items! I searched the World Wide Web and could not find a single media influencer partnered with Publix. It’s possible they’re out there and I’m missing them – the Internet is a big place after all – but it appears that Publix is missing a huge opportunity here. 

Pub 4.png

Of course though, if bloggers like Mix and Match Mama are going to partner with Publix, it only makes sense for the brand to create their own hashtag for influencers to use. As I scrolled through all of Publix’s platforms, I didn’t see a single hashtag being used. Hashtags aren’t just some clever or sarcastic sayings to hack on to the end of a post. They create community, they bring conversation, and they tie together posts from the brand, their influencers, and their followers. There’s plenty of opportunity to get creative here, but what about something like #ThePubIsAPleasure to play off of their tag line?


Whether Publix chooses to reach out to media influencers and create a more centralized community with hashtags is up to them, but I think they’re missing out on a great opportunity if they don’t!


Shopping Services


Lastly, let’s chat about Publix’s shopping services. You know about those, right? Oh, you don’t? Well don’t feel bad – I didn’t either until I started doing research for this post. Instacart and Shipt are two companies that offer annual subscriptions for their personal shopping services. Sign up for one of these services and get groceries delivered directly to your home! Hello, grocery shopping of the future…I’ve waited a long time for you!

Pub 5.png

Now maybe Publix feels like by posting anything about these services they’re essentially giving those companies free advertising - I get that. However, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve reinvented leftovers in order to avoid going to the grocery store again. If I had known about these services sooner, I totally would’ve been participating. In other words – Publix would’ve gotten more of my moolä. While they don’t actually make money by partnering with these services, the amount of “in app” shoppers does eventually add to their bottom line.


Extra, Extra….!


The issue for Publix when it comes to advertising is that whereas many companies are starting to transition away from print marketing and are positioning themselves in the online market, Publix still has many “old school” customers and penny-pinchers who really get a kick out of clipping coupons, and bringing in weekly ads and savings flyers, so I would assume that a large portion of their marketing budget goes toward that print marketing.


However, I think that by allocating even a small portion of their time and budget to more creativity and greater diversity on their social media channels, Publix can expand their reach far beyond where they’re at now. Publix prides themselves on excellence and rightfully so – they’re a great brand and with some small tweaks to their marketing strategy, they will only get better!


Brand Feedback: Advanced Auto

The Backstory

If you drive a car, Advance Auto Parts is almost certainly a brand you’re familiar with. The brand goes all the way back to 1932, and are known for their speedy service and mostly friendly mechanics. They also happen to be the largest retailer of replacement auto parts in America, so like I said, it’s likely we’ve all dealt with them at least once in our lives.


The problem is…when I’m not dealing with them, I don’t see them. I almost never see billboards, Facebook ads, or any form of advertising from them. It’s possible that I’m just not their target audience so that’s why I see less of them - but when I do need some help with my automobile they’re not fresh in my mind so I don’t necessarily think to go to them right away. So, I decided to do some digging. Did they actually have a bomb advertising strategy and I was just missing out on it? Turns out that while there are definitely some things they’re doing right, there are also plenty of areas for improvement.

Going Social

While already a great brand, Advanced Auto could only stand to grow and gain a larger audience. Firstly, by showing love to other high profile brands on social media. For example: It’s pretty likely that Armorall Wipes, which is a high margin brand, sell well in their stores and impact their bottom line. They should totally be liking, sharing, and commenting on Armorall’s social media posts! They should also be doing the same things on posts from people who share about using or wanting to use Armorall. When users of their products begin to notice that there is some sort of connection between Advanced Auto and Armorall, they’ll likely begin to feel some brand loyalty towards Advanced Auto.


Here’s an example of Armorall sharing a post from a DIY blogger with a high following. Kudos to them for remembering to tag the original poster!



point 1_preview-3.png

However, “liking” other people’s content alone obviously won’t garner enough attention. In the same way that Coca-Cola uses #ShareACoke and Charmin uses #TweetFromTheSeat, Advance Auto should take note and get creative with their own brand hashtag. What about using something kitschy like #TrailFails as a funny way to share other people’s daily content? Brands that are serious about not taking themselves seriously are our kind of people! This will keep them at the top of their audience’s mind in a way that matters and helps their voice come through. Here’s an example of where they did something similar, but they do this so rarely (and without a consistent #hashtag), that it really doesn’t get the reach it deserves. Plus, I personally think that with a hashtag like #TrailFails, the potential for ensuing hilarity is high.


The post below didn’t get the reach it deserves. If they shared more often and with a consistent hashtag, they’d get more interaction. They need to remember to tag the user who originally posted the image to create even more engagement (and give credit where it’s due)!


point 2_preview-2.png

Engaging With The Audience

Speaking of tagging people - Advanced Auto recently did a campaign involving Richard Rawlings! That’s a huge deal! People in the auto world know him as the owner of the Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas and TV star on the show Fast N Loud. The fact that Advanced Auto recruited him to do a small series on their social networks shows huge initiative on their part. Unfortunately, the campaign still wasn’t hugely successful due to lack of hashtags, tagging, and not getting fans to share the video clips. Landing advice from a celebrity in the auto industry should have warranted way more hype. Take a look at this screenshot of one of the video clips below. It got less than 400 views, and only 1 comment. ONE?! That’s at least how many I get every time my mom comments on my posts. Surely you can do better than me, Advanced Auto. 


point 3_preview-2.png

Final Thoughts

I would suggest taking some of the marketing budget they spend in other places (like print), and using it to specifically create, post, and boost unique, brand-centric, story driven content. Do this, invite media influencers into the conversation, and then watch engagement blow up!


For Advanced Auto specifically, it’s all about Instagram and Facebook. This is where the bulk of their engagement happens, and they need to seize the momentum! Take a look at the comment below on one of their Instagram posts. This doesn’t seem to be from a troll – it looks like genuine feedback. This would have been the PERFECT opportunity for Advance Auto to jump in and create interactivity. Heck, they could’ve even just asked the commenter what kind of content he WAS looking for, if not advice from Richard. The company is missing opportunities to connect with their audience left and right. Even if they thought that their content was “on point,” they still should have weighed in. All I know is that everyone in my life sure seems to love giving his or her opinion! Why can’t my family be more like Advance Auto? But in all seriousness, brands that can take constructive criticism and use it to grow have unlimited potential. As print media loses momentum, Advance Auto should consider reorganizing their strategy to focus their time, attention, and resources on the online platforms that dominate their space. 


point 4_preview-2.png

Despite all of this feedback, it’s definitely obvious that Advance Auto is putting forth effort in trying to find their “voice.” They already post pretty consistently on Facebook and Instagram, and with just a few tweaks to their approach, their branding could really take off!


Do you agree? Have anything to add? We want to hear your thoughts below!