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The Royal Wedding: A right Royal opportunity for businesses?

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25th Apr 2011
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Royal Wedding fever has gripped the nation and with £6 million forecast to be spent by consumers and tourists, Jeremy Michael provides tips for retailers.

Royal Wedding fever has gripped the nation, with just days to go before Prince William marries Kate Middleton, UK retailers and restaurants need to take advantage of this historic event and allow the Royal Wedding to kick off the summer.

With an expected £6 million to be spent by consumers and tourists, the industry needs to maximise the levels of patriotism and waves of optimism sweeping the country. It is an opportunity for retailers and restaurants to turn one visit customers into loyal partners for life.

With festivities providing a massive boost to sales, retailers and restaurants should be rolling out and developing themed merchandise and memorabilia to capture the country’s excitement. We have already seen Princess Catherine Barbie dolls, Royal Wedding iPhone covers and Union Jack plates, cups and saucers. Retailers and restaurants need to develop innovative ways to encourage potential customers to spend the big day with them.
For instance, bars and restaurants having themed menus and drinks, and retailers offering a variety of memorabilia will be the biggest attraction as everyone will want to celebrate the special occasion in style. Pubs such as Marstons Inn and Tavern are already rolling out Royal Wedding menus until mid May, with limited edition choices, such as sea bass Princess, steak Royale and chicken Windsor. The Park Lane Hilton and Dukes Hotel in London both have special Royal Afternoon tea menus with ‘sapphire tea’ and royal blue macaroons allowing customers to dine like royalty.
Estimates say two million people will take part in street parties to help celebrate the Royal Wedding and government and local councils have supported this, with David Cameron’s declaration for people to get on and have fun. National events capture the heart of the country and supermarkets often raise awareness through promotional activity. Supermarkets can use this opportunity to develop a variety of street party packs with union jack cakes and bridal bubbly. Similarly, ASDA has a whole section dedicated to the Royal Wedding – where people can purchase union jack flags, wigs, face paint and balloons to decorate their street.
Tesco produced a popular £16 version of the dress Kate Middleton wore when the couple announced their engagement, while sales of rings at Dorothy Perkins similar to that given by William to Kate have soared. Party packs can be created based on what ‘type’ of street party is going to be held, for example charity – Save The Children has launched ‘Born to Party’ packs to help young adults celebrate the day.
Hints and tips
With a predicted half a million people expected to arrive in London for the Royal Wedding, retailers and restaurants need to ensure that staff are prepared and managed properly to guarantee customers have an enjoyable time. Businesses cannot allow themselves to miss delivery deadlines or compromise on delivering high levels of customer service because of inadequate preparation and staff scheduling. This can have a very negative effect on sales and retailers and restaurants should take this chance to grow their existing customer base. It is inevitable that restaurants and pubs will get overcrowded or stock may run out in stores, but those that have contingency plans in place will ensure that a high level of customer service will be delivered during this national event.
Whilst dealing with this busy period, SMG has identified some top tips on how retailers and restaurants can turn first-time customers into loyal lifetime customers.
Some things that retailers need to consider:
  • When stock runs outs - if retailers are faced with this problem, they must offer customers a substitute to avoid disappointment, including an alternative product or phoning another store to check the products availability.
  • Avoiding the queues - no one enjoys queuing and it can be very off-putting to customers, but large queues are unavoidable as many people will be shopping in preparation for the Royal Wedding. Retailers should focus on having as many tills open as possible to avoid customer frustration. SMG research reveals that if a queue is only two minutes long, and customers see three closed tills around them, it will give customers an impression of poor queue management.
  • Store design and layout - the store design sets customer expectations and it is important that the brand messaging is reflected in the store and in the levels of customer service. The store layout also needs to cater for all types of customers, from first time visitors to regular visitors. SMG insight has found that the main factors retailers can address are cleanliness, speed of checkout and ease of locating items. The Royal Wedding is a national event and stores should maximise the heightened levels of interest and consumer spending by constantly promoting the particular offers and memorabilia. Stores should have the themed display sections at the entrance to the store to instantly attract customers. Similarly, when customers are queuing it is advisable to have a selection of merchandise on show to encourage customers to make additional impulse purchases.
  • Making sure your staff has the right attitude - staff should always have a smile on their face, remembering that a happy retailer means a happy customer, which in turn means happy figures. Customers do not want to be greeted by an unhappy and disengaged sales assistant. The Royal Wedding will be extremely busy, so preparing retail staff will ensure courteous service to customers.
  • Paying attention to customers - remember to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. The lead up to the Royal Wedding will be hectic, with everyone buying merchandise to help celebrate and make their day special. Listening to your customer’s suggestions and criticisms during this time will help build and attract loyal customers – which is ultimately the best result from the Royal Wedding season.
Some things restaurants need to consider are:
  • How to accommodate customers when a restaurant is full - suggest an alternative time to return and acknowledge that you would like to seat them. SMG research identifies that this is extremely important as most customers will be more understanding and patient if they are made aware of the situation straight away.
  • Provide incentives to your staff - most staff will be on their feet all day and unable to join in with the festivity. Providing incentives to staff is beneficial because they will feel involved, rewarded and appreciated during the busy day.
  • Not to be dismissive to your customers - it is inevitable that during the festivities restaurants will get overcrowded as waiters are unable to serve customers all at once. However, rather than see this as a problem, staff should capitalise on the new wealth of customers. SMG research shows that customers will be more understanding and patient if they are recognised and dealt with accordingly. Therefore staff should acknowledge potential customers immediately, stating “you will be with them in a minute” and offer any help until they can be seated.
  • The key to a successful business is a loyal customer base. Retailers and restaurants can use the Royal Wedding as a platform to improve and enhance their existing customer base. The industry needs to understand the key drivers of what customers wants and why they return. They need to focus on turning first time customers into those who are loyal and will return and recommend. Creating an enjoyable atmosphere and a celebratory mood with excellent customer service will see most customers return again and again.

The United Kingdom is set for a Royal feel good factor and more importantly the perfect lead up to the 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London hosting the Olympics in 2012. British morale is moving upwards with the expected £6 million boost largely through retail sales and hospitality trade from the Royal Wedding. The nation is seizing the occasion to celebrate something positive, and retailers should grasp this opportunity with both hands, allow growth in their sales and improvement in their customer loyalty to ensure that both customers and the industry live happily ever after.

Jeremy Michael is managing director at SMG UK.

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