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By The Drum | Editorial

December 6, 2023 | 5 min read

Waitrose & Partners and S:E Creative Studio have won the Audio category at The Drum Awards for Content. Here is the award-winning case study.

Our brief was to reach infrequent / non-core Waitrose shoppers (25-44 years) with content that communicated the brand proposition “Food To Feel Good About”, highlighting Waitrose’s superior quality, service, and sustainability credentials.

Strategy: The first task was to understand our target audience. To do this, we used Sony Music’s Cultural Landscape Survey which interviews a large nationally representative sample and focusses on attitudes and behaviours, lifestyle and media habits, digital interactions, and brand affinities. We identified an audience of “curious cultural connoisseurs,” a segment that sits outside of the traditional Waitrose target audience but had some existing affinity with the brand.

Delving further, we conducted a one-week diary study with a small number of recruits from our target audience via a mobile ethnography platform, immersing ourselves in their everyday lives so we could collectively experience the moments that really mattered to them. By doing this, we discovered that this audience views food as part of a much bigger conversation connected to entertaining, travel, careers, ethics, and cultural understanding.

What’s more, our research told us that this audience were part of the 3.2 million people who consider themselves “foodies” who regularly listen to podcasts in the UK. They use podcasts to increase their understanding of the world and improve their cultural knowledge through interviews and real-life stories.

So, podcasting provided the perfect opportunity to engage with this audience. But we knew success would be hard won, as no brand had ever maintained a consistent place in the UK podcast charts. Winning an audience would require us to create an entertaining show that not only educated the audience but was brave enough to make food the catalyst rather than the whole story in a conversation that stretched into all areas of culture.

So we made Dish. A podcast that not only provides weekly meal inspiration, but weekly event inspiration too.

Over the last year, we’ve released 36 weekly podcast episodes. Each episode was recorded in our kitchen studio using food and drink purchased at the local Waitrose, using a Waitrose recipe.

Our hosts, Angela Hartnett and Nick Grimshaw, invite celebrities over for a meal. And when celebrities can see a meal cooked in front of them, with the best quality food, by one of the UK’s best chefs, their reactions are genuine: they ask questions, they show appreciation, they offer something of themselves back. This makes for good conversation and the best advert for food you can ask for.

It’s an invitation that has attracted cultural influencers who matter to our audience … Nish Kumar, Clara Amfo, Rylan Clark, Dolly Alderton, Hugh Bonneville, David Harewood, Pru Leith, Stanley Tucci, Ottolenghi, Annie MacManus, Aisling Bea and many more. The meal is designed around our guests, with a conversation plan researched to make them feel as comfortable as they would be at any table with friends. We make sure to focus on seasonal produce for each recipe in a way that demonstrates sustainability while also ensuring our production adheres to best practises for reducing unnecessary waste.

To an audience of infrequent shoppers, we want to be as inclusive as possible, making it as easy for them to feel like guests at the table. Listeners are given the chance to send in their own questions via voice notes or email. In this way, we communicate the Waitrose’s famed levels of service and knowledge, extending it beyond their physical stores and into the daily lives of our audience.

The podcast is widely available on Apple, Spotify, and every major podcasting platform. We also video the whole experience and release clips on our hosts’ social channels as well as those of Waitrose. Guests frequently share clips on their social channels too, broadening the reach of the podcast and introducing it to new audiences. Everyone is invited to the table and all recipes are available on the Waitrose website with links to all recipe ingredients.

And the conversation has spread beyond our podcast episodes and social content, as Dish has featured in national print, radio, and TV outlets - firmly placing a meal from Waitrose as a weekly cultural event.

Results: Our brief was to reach infrequent / non-core Waitrose shoppers (25-44 years) with content that communicated the brand proposition “Food To Feel Good About”, highlighting Waitrose’s superior quality, service, and sustainability credentials. Our results show we’ve achieved this objective:

On average, people listen to 97% of each episode.

Over 60 million organic video views across social.

Dish was No.1 in the Apple Food charts for over 20 weeks. And we received over 2000 ratings, achieving 4.9 / 5 on Spotify.

Dish has reached a cultural status, meaning it can attract celebrity influencers like Nish Kumar, Clara Amfo, Rylan Clark, Dolly Alderton, Hugh Bonneville, David Harewood, Pru Leith, Stanley Tucci, Ottolenghi, Annie MacManus, and Aisling Bea, all who sample Waitrose food and advocate its quality.

Dish has received 1327 pieces of press coverage, including 6 front pages and appearances on BBC1’s The One Show, ITV’s This Morning and Lorraine, The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio, The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, Claudia Winkleman and Dermot O’Leary on Radio 2.

But most importantly, our research has shown that 36% of Dish listeners now claim to regularly shop at Waitrose, even though the brand has an approx. 5% market share of the grocery market. And 78% of listeners say they are big fans of Waitrose.

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