You haven’t heard of Wegmans????

I swear I’m not crazy.

My go-to icebreaker fun fact when I first came to college was, “I work in the Wegmans Bakery!” I was under the impression that everyone understood my love for Wegmans, because that’s the culture I grew up in. I was wrong. People outside the radius of Wegmans’ 92 stores don’t quite understand the hype. They all think I’m crazy.

As a lifelong resident of Rochester, New York, and a frequenter and employee of the flagship Wegmans Food Markets in Pittsford, I’ve grown up alongside a cult-like devotion to this grocery store. In Western New York, it’s almost blasphemous to shop anywhere other than Wegmans. It’s not just a supermarket, it’s a lifestyle. When you need to meet up with a friend, you meet in Wegmans café. When tourists come to Rochester, one of their first stops is Wegmans.

 

Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen. He was #1. So is Wegmans.

Now, this crazy devotion is based on real reasons. Wegmans has been voted the #1 grocery store in America, the #1 best place to work in America, the #1 pharmacy in America, #1 corporate reputation in America, and the #1 overall retailer in America. That’s wild.

Each location is sprawling—about the size of 8-10 supermarkets combined. It’s designed like an open-air European market, which makes the shopping experience enjoyable. Some customers experience a sensory overload, but many love the overwhelming possibilities. Employees are meticulously recruited and intensively trained to provide exceptional customer service. And while Wegmans stocks mountains of organic food and are the largest gluten-free seller, their prices are 10-15% lower than competitors.

Wegmans is mostly vertically integrated, and they own their distribution warehouses. They’ve been investing heavily in internal digital improvements, such as a 2006 data synchronization improvement which increased productivity by 7% and saved $1 million in labor costs yearly.

So, what has Wegmans been up to lately in the digital world? How is their social media presence? Actually, not so great. I found some areas for real improvement, so let’s dig in.

 

Tweet, Tweet

 

When people don’t know how to contact Wegmans, they go to Twitter. Wegmans has amassed 169K followers, and keep in mind they only have 92 stores. Of their 60.6K tweets, most are responses to customers. Recently, they’ve only been tweeting new content about once a week. They have been very responsive to compliments and complaints. Wegmans’ responses are always professional and understanding, often forwarding the customer to another link for further help on their issue. Responding to and resolving issues quickly ensures that Wegmans doesn’t lose loyal customers because of one bad experience.

One downside to Wegmans’ responsiveness is the very nature of Twitter’s mobile interface. While on desktop, tweets are sorted by original tweets vs tweets and replies, the mobile interface groups them all together. This means that if a customer is exploring Wegmans’ Twitter account on their phone, they will have to wade through a sea of responses in order to discover the few content gems. While Wegmans cannot change Twitter’s mobile structure, they can attempt to combat this by putting out more content. Tweeting once a week is not sufficient to drive real engagement.

Although this data is from 2015, it shows that Wegmans is really struggling with engagement. To improve engagement, Wegmans needs to produce content that customers care about more frequently, while using high quality images and linking to more information.

Interestingly, while I searching for the official Wegmans Twitter account, I found an abundance of fan accounts, such as @weggysbible, @LuvWegmans, and @WegmansHoe. These fan accounts are great examples of customers’ extreme devotion to Wegmans. They can leverage a social media fan base like this. By putting out more fun, cultish Wegmans content, they will digitally connect with all the Wegamaniacs.

 

Hold on, let me take a picture for the gram.

Instagram is a treasure trove for #FoodPorn. One might think that supermarkets would jump at the opportunity to engage customers on Instagram, but in 2015, supermarkets had a relatively low presence on Instagram, Wegmans included. As of today, Wegmans a shockingly low 2,176 followers, and it appears as if they restarted their account from scratch, as their first post was mere 2 weeks ago.

Wegmans has huge potential for engagement on Instagram. As Ulker mentioned in her blog, Starbucks gamifies the Instagram experience by reposting user-generated content. Wegmans could use this same strategy to incentivize customers to post the perfect photo of their food in the hopes of being featured. There are already so many Wegmans fan accounts, such as @weggies_subs, @WegmansDoesItAgain, @WegmansFanClub, and @WegmansWhatsGood. This shows that users are excited about Wegmans and want to post pictures about it.

 

 

Like us on Facebook 

Screen Shot 2017-02-17 at 3.11.00 PM.png

The Wegmans Facebook has over 355,000 likes, and they share content somewhat more frequently on Twitter. Content receives relatively high engagement rates, especially compared to Twitter. One problem is the visibility of negative comments. While deleting negative comments is usually a bad idea, strategically hiding these comments might be beneficial.  There is no easy way for customers to submit complaints via Wegmans’ Facebook page, so many customers resort to voicing their concerns in the comments on Wegmans’ posts. Wegmans responds promptly and professionally, but Facebook’s structure ensures that these comments are immediately visible to anyone scrolling past that post. While Wegmans can’t change this feature, they can pin a post to make it clear where customers can submit complaints and requests. This won’t eliminate the problem of comment negativity, but it should diffuse it a bit.

 

#DannyWegmanIsMyHero

 

Additionally, the CEO of Wegmans, Danny Wegman, does not have a social media presence. He is regarded as a celebrity in the Wegmans world. Despite not having a Twitter or Instagram, he is mentioned in hashtags such as #dannywegmanistheman #dannywegmanownsmybankaccount #dannywegmanftw #dannywegmanisbae and many more.

He stops by the flagship store every Saturday to do his shopping, and he is consistently flanked by a posse of star-struck customers dying for a chance to speak to Mr. Wegman. By developing a social media presence, Danny could become much more present representation of the family-owned Wegmans brand.

 

Supermarket with Supermedia

Wegmans also has a strong presence on YouTube and Pinterest, where they share videos and pictures of fun recipes. They also developed an app, which helps customers create a shopping list, find items in the store, and browse recipes. By harnessing these platforms, as well as sharing more universally enjoyable content on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, Wegmans will not only please their loyal customers in the digital world, but will build brand awareness for non-customers who stumble across their posts.

With their strong fan base, there’s no question that Wegmans will maintain their #1 position. It’ll be difficult to reach quite that level of extreme loyalty without first stepping up their social media accounts, and letting the Wegamaniacs explore even more Wegmans content online.

6 comments

  1. I first heard of Wegman’s (before it arrived to Chestnut Hill from a friend who coincidentally is also from Rochester and has similar feelings about the supermarket, so I know you’re not the exception! I do think trendy/well loved brands ought to develop their social media presence and I’m honestly surprised that such an innovative supermarket hasn’t been leading the way in their regard. I’ve seen places like Wendy’s really establish themselves further by their social media presence and can see this boding well for Wegman’s if it chooses to go down that path!

  2. My wife just turned me on to Wegman’s this year. The Burlington location is my new favorite grocery. Fantastic brand. Pretty much takes the Whole Foods concept and strips out the overpricing and scale-down of variety. Result is the perfect supermarket. Seems like they are on top of having a social media presence, and that some of what they’re doing with SM extends the character of the brand very well, but in my opinion the foundation is just that it’s a great business at its core and that is what is driving successful social media growth.

    Recommendation: The photo at the top of the blog would have made a fabulous Featured Image to help the post stand out among others in the blog thread.

  3. I knew I liked you for a reason. We live near the first Wegmans in the state of Mass (Northborough), and we’ve been going there since it opened. I’m equally as big of a fan as you are. Thanks for sharing about the digital side.

  4. I am also a HUGE fan of Wegmans and cringe at the fact people go to Star Market, to be honest. Thinking about how a grocery store, especially one that is considered to be a lifestyle, may interact with customers on social media raises an interesting point. Foodies have certainly capitalized on social media and in order for grocery stores to stay relevant in the social media world, it is definitely important to keep up. I think you are right about the potential for Wegmans to use instagram to connect to its consumers. I think Whole Foods does a great job at this and would recommend looking at their instagram if you are interested in this subject. I did not know wegmans has an app and I will certainly be checking that out… I’m excited!

  5. I grew up in Corning, New York and worked at Weggies for 5 years so I definitely understand your love for the store and how great it is to work there in general. It’s quite literally the greatest place on Earth. You could never wear sweatpants or pajamas to go there because you undoubtedly would always see someone you knew. But anyway, growing up in that kind of hysteria, it never even crossed my mind how much Wegman’s could benefit from a strong social media presence. The advantage of having such a loyal and devoted fanbase would pay huge dividends on social media if they can figure out how to leverage it correctly.

  6. Although I live way to far from Wegman’s I truly love it because it reminds me of my supermarket at home, Publix. I can understand your love for it because the same details come across, I have my friend Magnolia who I’ve known since I was 7 (and cried when she saw me a month ago because of how old I’ve gotten), everyone dies for a Publix sub, their chicken tenders are the best and everything is fresh. I never really thought about their social presence because of their strong, loyal customer base, but now that you’ve mentioned all the digital aspects for Wegman’s, I see that for being a food brand, they could really be doing a lot more and on more relevant platforms. Great post!

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