Friday, March 20, 2009

Woolworths to Buy Gasta search network?

The resurrection of Zavvi and Woolworths as online-only brands has once again brought the role of search as a brand-building tool to prominence.

Zavvi's new owners The Hut Group this week told new media age (nma 12 March) that search, managed by MediaVest Manchester, would lead the charge to regain consumer trust lost when its high street presence failed at the start of the year.

Likewise, Woolworths, now owned by Shop Direct, has already rolled out a paid search campaign stating that 'Woolworths is Back Soon', with natural listings pointing to the blog the company is using to encourage consumer input into its future.

It's a tough gig as both brands face an uphill struggle to convince consumers the companies, although now owned by wholly separate companies to those that went into administration before Christmas, are reputable and, perhaps more importantly, reliable.

Neither have large budgets to splash their brands around, so it's logical that both have started with search; an effective paid strategy won't cost the earth and the more buzz they generate among bloggers, social networks and the like, the more effective their SEO.

I've been critical of retailers' poor approach to search in the past, not just in promoting their own wears but also failing to capitalise on the misfortunes of their rivals.

That's why both Zavvi and Woolworths' strategies will be watched with great interest. Both The Hut Group and Shop Direct have taken on massive challenges, but both have identified search as the key component to achieve future success; if they can get this right then everything else should fall into place.

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