Families are a rich seam to mine for grocery spend versus other consumer segments but, rather than market to mum with strong price messaging, retailers would be better advised to tailor campaigns around events and create occasions to bring more family shoppers into store more often, according to retail marketing firm TCC. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

Billed as the engine of the economy, the family is a top consumer group right now. Kantar Worldpanel records the grocery spending habits of six key life cycle groups: pre-family, young family, older family, young post-family, older post-family and single elderly. While young family and older family shoppers visit stores less frequently on an annual basis than all other groups, except the pre-family segment, their spend per trip is significantly higher.

In the 52 weeks ending 25 December 2011, younger family shoppers spent on average £25.10 per trip and older family shoppers spent £26.17 per trip. Conversely, older post-family shoppers, who visit stores the most often, spend £16.35 per trip; while single elderly shoppers spend the least, £11.62 per trip.

On an annual basis, older family shoppers are one of the biggest spending groups, racking up £5,023.00 in sales on average in the year to 25 December 2011; only marginally behind the top spenders, the older post-family segment. Young family spend, meanwhile, reached £3,760.00 in the same period, outpacing both that of the single elderly group, £3,049.00 and pre-family sector, £2,716.00. It's no wonder that the UK's top supermarkets are firing their marketing messages at the family segment.

And family buying power is not unique to the UK. Research company Nielsen's May 2011 study - Understanding the Modern American Mom - reveals households with kids under 18 make up a third of US households, yet they are responsible for roughly half of all purchases of cereal, juice, fresh meat and prepared food, it says. Moms also over index for shopping for groceries online.

As the Kantar Worldpanel figures showed, retailers have an opportunity to drive sales by attracting families and increasing the frequency of their store visits. TCC works with international retailers to do just that. For example, Carrefour in Belgium and Wellcome in Hong Kong both teamed up with TCC to attract family shoppers with loyalty campaigns featuring soft toys from the animation studio, Dreamworks.

Carrefour's current programme has been designed to build customer loyalty, attract new customers and specifically, the family. Shoppers collect a stamp for every €25.00 spent during a five-week period and redeem 25 stamps for a free soft toy.

Wellcome had three key objectives in its promotion: to increase store turnover; increase the number of big weekend shoppers; and increase spend among daily shoppers, particularly those with kids. Over a 12-week period, Wellcome awarded stamps for each HKD55.50 spent and double points for purchases over HKD277.00 at weekends. As a result, the retailer recorded significant sales increases with strong shopper participation. The return on investment was significant, said Wellcome.

Polish forecourt retailer, Lotus, homed in on Dreamworks' Shrek licence to attract families and increase sales. The programme TCC devised was based around a game card and offered Shrek-themed glasses for points earned based on spend. It ran for 12 weeks with all glasses successfully redeemed during the promotional period.

Albert Heijn in the Netherlands also had its eye on family shoppers and children with its TTC Global campaign, orchestrated around a Premier League sticker collection. The promotion offered shoppers an opportunity to collect 270 different stickers (15 per football team) and awarded one sachet of five stickers for each €10.00 spent in store. Shoppers could also purchase a sticker album for €1.49 and, during the first week of the campaign, Albert Heijn teamed up with a supplier and offered the album free with purchases of Calve Peanut Butter. The retailer created in-store theatre with the campaign and took it outside of store onto outdoor media. It culminated in a national sticker swapping day at a football stadium. As a result, sales increased, Albert Heijn attracted a significant amount of new family shoppers and had great participation. A substantial number of sticker packs were issued and a staggering 8,000 people attended the sticker swapping day.

According to TCC, retailers can successfully tap into key dates in the calendar such as major film releases and sporting events to create an in-store event through its programmes. These give family shoppers a further incentive to visit the store. For example, working with TCC, Rewe in Germany and Esselunga in Italy developed in-store events around the 2010 Football World Cup. Rewe had been official fresh food supplier to the German national football association (DFB) since 2008 and makes good use of the logo and team manager in its advertising. In the run up to the FIFA World Cup in 2010, Rewe wanted to use images of the German players to increase shopper frequency and basket size in order to drive turnover. The promotion featured trading cards of the German football team, which shoppers could collect over a seven-week period - one trading card for every €10.00 spent shopping. Shoppers could also purchase a collector album for €1.99 to display all 25 cards. Rewe supported the campaign with advertising across TV, radio, print media and the internet, as well as a significant package of POS. The promotion met Rewe's objectives with the retailer giving away more than 110 million trading cards and selling over 1m albums in the first four weeks of the campaign.

Esselunga, Italy's fifth largest retailer, chose to focus a campaign on Adidas footballs in four designs. Over the eight and a half week promotional period, shoppers could collect points for each €25.00 spent in-store and additional points for purchases of products from supplier sponsors. Collectors with 15 points could then buy the size five footballs for €5.00 or an Italian mini-ball for €2.00 with 12 points. According to Esselunga, the campaign met its objectives of creating an in-store event during the World Cup and increased sales with a positive return on investment.

Getting supplier involvement in campaigns can significantly enrich the programme content and make them more cost effective for the retailer too. In the Czech Republic, Ahold's supermarket chain, Albert, ran a family-focused promotional campaign featuring the Smurfs, which was totally funded by suppliers. As a result, the campaign benefited from significant in-store promotional point-of-sale, an extensive outdoor media campaign, TV advertising, plus coverage in newspapers, magazines and online. The programme ran for eight weeks in 280 stores between 10 August and 4 October 2011. Shoppers spending CZK200.00 received a 3D Smurf Card - one of 24 different designs to collect - but would receive an additional card if they bought products from one of the supplier sponsors. The list of suppliers' participating products changed on a weekly basis during the campaign and products were flagged up in-store with a wobbler and featured on a special list. There was also an album, which collectors could buy for CZK49.00. The campaign was further enhanced with activities including card trading days, providing children with an opportunity to exchange duplicate cards; plus games and competitions.

Corporate social responsibility played a role in the campaign too. Through its charity, the Albert Foundation, the retailer made the cards accessible to children living in children's homes in the Czech Republic. Albert also garnered celebrity endorsement with well known Czech and Slovak celebs taking part in events to support the programme, such as painting white Smurf statues; which were then sold at auction to fund Albert Foundation projects. Albert's campaign had so many family touch points that it drove sales, basket spend and market share. According to TCC, it has also spawned other retail interest in the Czech Republic. On a lighter note, Albert said it was the first programme in which shoppers actually stole the point of sale.

All of these campaigns, details of which TCC has kindly allowed The Best Customer Guide to publish here, show how any retailer can give entire families extra reasons to visit and revisit their stores, forming new shopping habits and brand choices in the process.