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Woolworths store in Sydney

No matter where you turn at the moment it’s impossible to avoid the latest craze that is supermarket collectables. The country’s biggest supermarkets have been battling it out in a war of who can dispense the biggest supply of the littlest things. On one side of the ring there’s the seasoned pro Coles, with the second iteration of their smash-hit Little Shop series. On the other, we have the fierce contender Woolworths, who came prepped and ready to fight with their Lion King Ooshies, anxious to avoid a repeat of the previous year’s defeat.

There’s already been extensive commentary on the “pester-power” these campaigns have on parents. So instead Mediaverse looked at the campaigns from a media exposure perspective. We ran the numbers for the past thirty days on Little Shop and Ooshies to see how they performed across traditional and social media.

Little Shop outperformed Ooshies in traditional media with 855 online news and 83 print media mentions, in comparison to Ooshies 618 online items and 25 print mentions. However, Ooshies blew Little Shop out of the water on social media with a massive 2,462 mentions, dwarfing Little Shop’s 829 hits.

Do more media mentions equal a winning formula? We looked behind the numbers to see which supermarket came out on top.

Plastic waste wars

The overwhelming driver of conversation around Coles Little Shop was public outcry slamming the supermarket’s campaign for its negative impact on the environment due to the non-recyclable nature of the collectables. Traditional media outlets were quick to report on calls for a boycott of the collectables, with the supermarket forced to address concerns that they were acting in contradiction to their commitment to eradicate single-use plastic bags. This also drove conversation across Twitter where anger towards the use of non-recyclable plastic overshadowed public excitement surrounding collecting, swapping and selling the mini collectables.

The activity of the Coles Twitter account reinforced this further, as the company actively sought to neutralise complaints about the environmental impact of the items, defending their recycling program and emphasising that the collectables are to be kept, not thrown away.

Where the first iteration of Little Shop saw the newness of the collectables outweigh plastic waste criticisms, their second foray hasn’t been afforded the same concessions with environmental concerns clearly dampening the mood among the media and community.

Consumers behaving badly

Woolworths has largely been able to avoid environmental criticism. The supermarket giant pre-empted environmental backlash through a partnership with TerraCycle to repurpose the Ooshies as materials to be used in outdoor products.

In contrast to the Little Shop, the high volume of social conversation discussing Ooshies illustrates an almost a cult-level of hype around these mini Lion King collectables. Social activity reached viral status after a farmer decapitated a rare Ooshi on live television. This then sparked a discussion about the implications of the online bullying the farmer received after attempting to sell the collectable.

Although this had the potential to damage the positive mood around the collecting craze, Woolworths managed to avoid being negatively associated with the poor conduct of some consumers. This was most accurately illustrated through the difference in the kinds of queries Woolworths Twitter account fielded in comparison to Coles. Whilst they still responded to concerns about plastic waste, a quick explanation of their recycling program managed to keep most of these complaints at bay. Social activity tended to focus on lighter concerns such as consumers making satirical remarks about ingesting the Ooshies and minor complaints about not receiving as many Ooshies as they were entitled to.

So, is there a winner?

In the competition for the public’s affection, so far Woolworths appears to be in the lead. They have found a winning combination by leveraging The Lion King movie factor, proactively minimising environmental waste criticism and avoiding association with poorly behaved consumers. However, with time still remaining and sales figures still to be announced it remains to be seen who will come out victorious in the biggest mini fight for 2019.

 

Image: AAP Image/Joel Carrett. Supplied by AAP Photos image library.

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