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. 

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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. 

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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! 

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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. 

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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!

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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!