How members joined in, drank beer and wrote the tasting notes

We set up the Co-op Member Voice team to, well, give Co-op members a voice. We’ve been engaging with members both online and in their communities in many ways. We’ve asked them to ‘join in’ and talk to us about their favourite pizza toppings, we’ve arranged community dog walks and we’ve done an awful lot of baby talk!

By speaking and listening to our customers and members, we’ve got a better chance of both meeting their needs and giving them what they’d like.

One of our first Member Voice engagements was when we gave 100 active members in Holmfirth 6 bottles of wine so they could host their own wine tasting event. We asked for their thoughts and used their recommendations and tasting notes in point of sale material in the Holmfirth store. All 6 types of wine saw an increase in sales when the member testimonies were seen by customers.

One of our most popular opportunities was when we asked members about their favourite local real ales. Over 900 members waxed lyrical about their favourite local tipples and you can see what we learnt on the main Co-op blog.

Try the beer, write the tasting notes

We had a big response to these opportunities so in January we invited 100 members to taste 3 brand new, not-even-in-the-shops-yet, Co-op own-brand beers: IPA, Triple Hop and Golden Ale. We asked members to taste them and tell us what they thought for the chance to see their tasting notes on the labels.

It’ll be interesting to see if members and customers react to the member comments on the packaging keeping in mind the successes of the Holmfirth wine trial on local wine sales.

Beer sampling on social

As you can imagine it didn’t take long for the 100 cases to get snapped up. Members were thrilled to be asked to taste and give their thoughts on our new beers and ales and took to Twitter to share what they were doing. You can see some of their tweets by searching #coopjoinin.

image shows tweet with twitter image. tweet says: 'cheers COOP can't wait to buy more of these especially GOLDEN ALE, just simply exceptional. twitter image shows man holding bottle and glass of beer.

image of tweet which includes a twitter picture. tweet says: 'really enjoyed trying three new beers for @coopuk. the triple hop was our favourite - highly recommended. Thanks for letting us #coopjoinin'

The 100 tasters then filled in a survey about the beers and the Beers, Wines and Spirits team chose a comment about each beer that would be printed on the corresponding bottle.

The Golden Ale tasting notes were from Michael Gibbons, a Co-op member from Luton. 

image shows the The Golden Ale label with member's tasting notes: ‘A smooth ale with a golden caramel complexion, the perfect beer for a summer garden.’

Sam Dineley, a Co-op member from Bristol wrote the Triple Hop tasting notes.

image shows The Triple Hop label and tasting notes:‘A complex but complementary blend of hops gives this beer a rich and rounded flavour with a subtle and smooth aftertaste’

And the IPA comment was from Tom Packman, a Co-op member from Essex.

image shows IPA label with tasting notes: ‘Good, traditional IPA. Voluminous, good body and fruity hop.’

A meet-up in a brewery

We invited the 3 members whose notes were chosen to Frederick Robinson’s Brewery where we make and bottle the ales. After a full brewery tour, we were taken to the bottling plant to see the Triple Hop bottles coming down the line and being filled and packaged ready to head to our Co-op Food stores. Then we tasted some of Robinson’s customer favourites, along with the fresh off the line Triple Hop.

The Co-op ales go on sale in our Co-op Food stores on 13 March and our members’ voices are shouting loud and proud from the label!

You can join in with a Member Voice opportunity by logging into your Co-op Membership account.

If you’d like to become a member you can sign up for membership. Join us!

Visit drinkaware.co.uk for the facts about alcohol.

Terry McLeod
Member Voice team

Engaging with members online and in their communities

Last week, Alex blogged about the ways members are giving feedback through the opportunities on the Membership website. Members are already talking to us about existing products, ideas for new ones and ways we can improve their experience. Since September when we launched the new membership:

  • over 800 members have been helping our local sourcing team find the best British beers by suggesting local ales they want their Co-op to stock
  • 1300 members helped our food teams by answering questions about their favourite pizza toppings, bases and sauces
  • over 1000 members have helped the Co-op Brand team explore our baby ranges, pet food and Free-From range

We’ve always had a range of online opportunities that members can get involved in, but recently the Member Voice team have been organising offline opportunities within local communities that members can sign up to through the Membership website. The aim of the research is the same but it’s more personal and often more in depth. And often more fun!

Visiting members in their communities

One of the most useful ways to gather information on members and their relationship with the Co-op is to visit them. Me, Mark Robinson-Field and Jo Warburton from the Member Voice team have been out in communities, getting members together or catching up with them in their routines.

Dog walking in Wales

With the help of the local Member Pioneers and Deb Wozencraft, the Co-op Engagement Advisor covering Wales, we organised dog walks in Wrexham and Machynlleth. We wanted to find out about our members’ pet food buying habits so we could see if we’re meeting their needs. We asked them where they buy dog food and what type they go for, whether the Co-op is their first point of call or more of a top-up shop. We also asked whether they buy doggy treats from us.

Members and their dogs outside the Co-op store in Wrexham before the dog walk.

Baby talk in Didsbury

We also dropped in on a parent and toddler group in Didsbury to talk to members about their shopping habits when it comes to their children.

We asked parents to arrange cardboard cut-outs of various, unbranded baby/toddler products on a shelf. It helped us understand what they need from their local Co-op and which products, in which size packs, would be make their experience easier and quicker.

Activity completed by parents in Didsbury. Image shows the types of baby products parents would like to see stocked in their local Co-op.

It takes time, but it’s worth it

We’ve found that this kind of contextual research is invaluable because we get to see a slice of people’s lives. It helps us understand more about their lives, how we fit into them and how we can meet their needs better.

Members have been phenomenally generous with their time in supporting their Co-op. In fact, since September members have given over 780 hours of their time to making their Co-op better, that’s 33 days!

Members can visit membership.coop.co.uk to find out how they can make their local Co-op better for their community. If you’d like to become a member you can sign up for membership.

Our member voice team is growing. If you think you can help us understand and enhance the impact of our Join in activities, why not find out more and apply today?

Terry Mcleod