Southern Co-operative enters home shopping market with Xest


The Southern Co-operative, which has more than 150 outlets,
primarily food retailers, across southern and middle England, has
launched a home shopping offering targeting the grey market.
Co-operative Xest sells mobility products and other daily-living
aids. It is supported by This Morning agony aunt Denise
Robertson, who will host an event on the company’s behalf during
Carers Week this month.

A strategic review of the cooperative society led to the launch
of the brand. “Xest conducted extensive market and
competitor analysis,” says a spokesperson, “talking
to in excess of a thousand potential customers” prior to
its launch. It appointed Rise Communications and its creative
partner Devilfish to build a brand identity that reinforced
positivity and independence, as is evident from Xest’s tagline,
“life to the full”.

The Southern Co-operative recruited a separate management team
specifically for its expertise in home shopping. Xest managing
director Andrea Dipple was hired in March 2008, having previously
worked at over-50s holiday and insurance specialist Saga
developing its home shopping propositions, including its first
transactional website.

The Xest spokesperson declined to disclose how many catalogues
were printed and to whom they were distributed, but clearly the
business has invested heavily in consumer PR and promotional
activity. As well as obtaining Robinson’s endorsement, Xest has
appointed a PR agency, booked adverts in national media, engaged
in pay-per-click online advertising, and launched a direct
marketing campaign.

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