#PRAwards 2021 highlight: FairPrice's 3-pronged approach to alleviate COVID-19 concerns

FairPrice took home the bronze award for best PR led integrated communications at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's PR Awards 2021, by implementing a strategic public relations campaign together with PR agency Golin. The campaign was complemented with social media activations. These were conducted to inform, address concerns and encourage community participation in the three initiatives FairPrice introduced from March to June 2020. It is part of a holistic campaign to address top of mind concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out how FairPrice impressed the judges with its initiatives.

Challenge 

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, when Singapore raised its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition to orange, demand for daily essentials like toilet paper, instant noodles and rice saw a surge by as much as five times compared to the week before. The sudden increase resulted in a bottleneck of deliveries to stores and caused a temporary shortage of products in stores and online. The announcement also caused a panic buying situation, which inadvertently hindered certain groups of people from acquiring daily essentials for themselves.

Following this, the government announced the start of the circuit breaker period, where Singaporeans were given a stay-at-home order to cope with the rising number of COVID-19 cases. While supermarkets were allowed to remain open, it saw a gap in which the vulnerable, especially seniors, had difficulties acquiring food for themselves. Additionally, with the disruption of the supply chain amidst globally, Singaporeans were also concerned that prices of certain items will be subjected to price fluctuations as the demand for food and grocery products outstripped supply.

FairPrice’s roots as a social enterprise and co-operative means that fulfilling its social mission is a core strategic intent, which is just as important as its business objectives. It aims to do good not just for customers, but for the community at large, the environment and employees as well, especially in times of crisis. To reaffirm its commitment as a social retailer, especially amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, its key objectives are to make essentials accessible and available, provide for the vulnerable and needy, and manage the cost of living for Singaporeans.

Strategy 

FairPrice introduced three initiatives from March to June 2020 as part of a holistic campaign to address top of mind concerns of the nation amidst COVID-19. A strategic public relations campaign, complemented with social media activations, were conducted to inform, address concerns and encourage community participation.

A priority shopping hour was introduced last March to improve safe distancing measures for vulnerable segments of the community - including members of the Pioneer Generation, persons with disabilities, and pregnant women - when they shop for their daily necessities. The priority shopping hour was implemented at all its stores, which takes place every Monday during the first hour of the store’s normal operating hours. This also aimed to allay concerns among seniors and the less mobile of not being able to purchase groceries following reports of stockpiling and panic buying, leaving shelves empty of high demand items like toilet paper, rice and vegetables. This dedicated hour allowed seniors and the vulnerable to shop at ease without having to jostle with the crowd.

Meanwhile, FairPrice on Wheels is a community initiative to enhance the accessibility of daily essentials at selected mature estates with a higher concentration of low-income seniors through specially outfitted grocery vans. This was implemented during the circuit breaker, following reports that there was a growing concern that seniors were unable to get groceries. Diminished support from volunteers and social service organisations during the circuit breaker period also exacerbated the problem.

To help alleviate this, FairPrice on Wheels grocery vans looked to provide basic grocery essentials right to the doorstep of seniors who needed them the most. Items the vans carried included a curated range of rice, bread, instant noodles, cooking oil, canned food, toiletries, fruits and vegetables. In all, five vans were deployed to 11 locations across Singapore, mainly in mature HDB estates. This initiative also draws inspiration from the “loti chia” or “bread trucks” of yesteryear which seniors could identify with, thereby enhancing engagement. Bread trucks used to ply the streets in Singapore, serving residential districts that did not have nearby access to grocery stores.

Over the years, the FairPrice house brand range, which is priced at least 10% cheaper compared to leading brands, has helped defray daily expenses and provided good quality everyday essentials for Singaporeans. Driven by its social mission to do well in order to do good for the community, it remains committed to moderate the cost of living in Singapore, especially during times of crises.

To further extend the support for Singaporeans amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it extended the price freeze of 100 of the most popular house brand everyday essentials for another six months. This reaffirms FairPrice’s commitment to hold prices helps cushion Singaporeans against potential price increases, regardless of changes in supply, socio-economic factors and external factors that could affect food prices. It also acts as a benchmark for prices of everyday essentials, ensuring they remain affordable.

Execution 

To reach out to the target audience and relevant stakeholders, FairPrice engaged all mainstream media titles in Singapore to share more about the three initiatives to relevant stakeholders, including customers, partners, and union members. It also pitched for thought leadership interviews with tier one local and regional broadcast titles to further put forth FairPrice as an industry leader and urging relevant stakeholders and retailers to further support Singaporeans during the pandemic.

golin image 1

Beyond media outreach, FairPrice also tapped into its influencer advocate programme, FairPrice Insiders, as part of the public relations strategy to share more about the price freeze initiative through a creative kit drop. The curated creative kit included items that were part of the 100 products that were on price freeze till 31 December 2020. The kit served to encourage FairPrice Insiders to use the products included to create their favourite home recipes and to share with their followers about the house brand range that is available across all its stores islandwide.

golin image 2

To complement traditional media outreach and influencer engagements, FairPrice also reached out to the target audience through social media campaigns and social media marketing, to inform, engage and drive participation over the circuit breaker and post circuit breaker period. Through social media posts featuring product highlights, recipe creations using FairPrice house brand products and updates on the initiatives, it reached out to followers to seed key messages from various campaigns in a lifestyle-centric manner.

golin image 3

golin image 4

Results

FairPrice's campaign received 100 pieces of coverage across tier one titles such as The Straits Times, The Business Times, Channel NewsAsia, TODAY, as well as posts from parenting, F&B and lifestyle influencers. According to FairPrice, the initiative was well-received by the target audience, with many social sentiments commending the various initiatives that helped moderate the cost of living and bring daily essentials closer to the vulnerable members of the community.