Netto nimbys – not all surprises are good surprises

Residents of Lymm in Cheshire are apparently up in arms after the Waitrose they expected, turned out to be a Netto.

As part of a new retail development, the villagers of historic Lymm were promised a luxury supermarket and had believed they were soon to be shopping in the likes of Waitrose, Marks and Spencer or Booths. When the details of the store final emerged, in turned out that they were to be provided with a Netto, famed for its value goods and discount brands.

While plans for the development had been in the public domain for some time, the developers had chosen not to reveal the name of the store until a later date.

This is where I believe the real problem arose. Residents spoke of being ‘misled’ and ‘conned.’ While the coverage in the national newspapers (and yes, this really did make national news) focussed on the ‘Netto nimbys’ and the ‘despair of the residents after the Waitrose they had hoped for turned out to be a discount store’, I believe the real issue was in the lack of communication. Would these residents really have been so horrified if they had been expecting a Netto all along? Are they really as snobbish as the papers would have us believe, that they wouldn’t want a store that is actually a joint venture with Sainsburys?

Perhaps some PR activity was needed in advance here. A surprise unveiling of a store is a great idea but you have to know your audience. A little consumer research would soon have told the PR company that this was a discerning area and that the residents may need a little warming up to the idea of a Netto store. Careful liaison with the local people would have helped with their understanding of the store’s offerings. Communication between the potential customers and the new store must surely be vital to ensure that they are stocking the right goods and to help with the perception of the brand? Lack of communication has, in this case, as it does so often, left the local residents to come to their own conclusions.

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