Case Study

Casino Launches the C'Vous Community and Puts Customers At the Heart of their Relationship with the Brand

Launched in February 2012, Groupe Casino's branded community, C', became the first community in France where customers could interact to create products and services for stores. Its branded community positioned Groupe Casino to be the first major player in the food distribution market to develop an empathetic means of listening to and creating a dialogue with its customers. The community initiatives allow the brand to truly listen to the voices of customers, and collaborate with its fans to create innovative products.

Can you give us a brief summary of what Groupe Casino does?

Historically a French food retailer, Casino is now a global leader in distribution with 60% of its business coming from young countries with strong growth potential, primarily in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Its vision of commerce is founded on the proximity to customers and the ability to adapt to the realities of extremely variable local environments, both in terms of commercial offerings and new strategies for driving engagement and retention of its customers.

What's your role in Groupe Casino's C'Vous online community? What were the initial challenges that led to its creation?

I'm one of the founders of C'Vous. We created it as an internal start-up within Casino back in March 2012. Today, we're the same team of four people who were working together back at the origin of the concept. Our initial goal was simple: to offer consumers and clients a new type of relationship with our brand. Casino considers its clients to be brand influencers, so we wanted to offer them a dedicated space to express themselves. In the spirit of Web 2.0, we created the C'Vous community for our customers to share, exchange, learn, be heard by the brand, and see their ideas realized in our stores.

What Lithium solutions have you implemented, and why?

We're particularly big users of the modules dedicated to ideation, including the forum, contests and games, the blog, groups, surveys, and dedicated Facebook applications.

What types of uses have you made of the platform?

Our community is very specific, because we focus on promoting forum discussions, exchange of ideas, and sharing between members. Strictly speaking, we have no customer support mission. Co-creation is really the heart of our initiative.

What are the major contributions to the brand so far from the community?

For our customers, C'Vous responds to a need to truly be at the center of their relationship with the brand. For the majority of brands, and for big retailers in general, customer-centricity is more an aspiration than a reality. We wanted to break through that barrier at Casino, and this space allowed us to do that by giving us a chance to hear customer dialogue and work directly with our customers and fans. For the brand, it gives us access to knowledge of our customers that was previously unattainable. It's an extremely powerful tool.

What are the biggest results so far?

Thanks to our community, we've already been able to co-create 8 new products with our members. An additional 100 products were chosen to be highlighted in our stores. Several ideas and service concepts have been implemented in our stores, thanks to our customers. Our work is centered on the ideation from our community members, and transforming those ideas into real products in retail stores.

What are some key figures in your use of the Lithium platform?

The community has enrolled more than 50,000 members, with more than 1,000 ideas posted, many of which have either been implemented or are currently under consideration. More than 250,000 votes have been issued, along with 15,000 messages and comments. All this was accomplished without buying any ad space, and our natural traffic comes entirely from word of mouth and the visibility of our co-created products in stores.

What has ROI been like? What are the principal benefits?

The impact on our brand image has been substantial and rewarding. It's an important vehicle for fans of the brand and our 50,000 members. Our community has developed a sense of belonging to the brand and a deeper engagement.

In terms of co-created products, we've seen huge success with new launches, and this has boosted our capacity for innovation. For example, we created Apérichefs, which involved the community in the creation of a product from A to Z. This started with a casting. Out of the candidates who submitted recipes or ideas of snack food products, nine Apérichefs were selected and invited to Casino's office in Paris to brainstorm and taste snack food products using their recipes or ideas. Then community members could vote amongst six delicious propositions of snack food products (madeleines) recommended by the nine Apérichefs. This is an example of true product innovation from our community.

Finally, the impact of the branded community on e-commerce and on the drive to shop in-store is undeniable; community has impacted our sales and positively increased customer loyalty.

Have you been able to develop the platform autonomously?

Yes, absolutely. This is one of the biggest advantages of the Lithium platform: we're 100% autonomous. The tool is very agile, and adapts perfectly to the way we function as a sort of internal start-up within Casino.

What are the main Lithium analytics you've been using?

We use as much data from the Lithium platform as possible. It's a gold mine of valuable information for optimizing how we manage the community. Traffic, page views, connections, posts, types of name it. In general, we use a lot of data from the Community Health Index as well.

Has the community principle spread in Casino beyond C'Vous?

Indeed, and in an impressive manner, as nearly all of the group's brands are using or plan to use the Lithium community platform. This is a true sign of success and an overwhelming passion for the community initiative.