Case Study: OK Västerbotten Cooperative Association: Better Together
OK Västerbotten is a cooperative association in Sweden owned by it’s members. The association manages 36 fuel stations that also function as post offices, convenience stores, cafés and meeting places.
How we worked together
Not many have known what OK Västerbotten does, nor what the association stands for – and the members are generally older.
The adopted solution for OK Västerbotten was to abandon all the traditional marketing and turn its focus to PR services. This way, the association could engage in a more personal dialogue directly with their local customers, all based on the brand promise “More value together” and the promotional campaign to recruit more and younger members: “Better together”.
From 2015 to 2017 the editorial reach has increased by a whopping 4 000 percent, during 2017 the organic reach on Facebook increased by 96 percent and the brand recognition in Västerbotten is now at 96 percent. The association is growing, there are now nearly 94 000 members now and the operating profit has improved by more than EUR 600 000 between 2015 and 2017.
North Sweden, Västerbotten county. Here, OK Västerbotten manages 36 fuel stations that also function as post offices, convenience stores, cafés and meeting places. In doing so, they facilitate life across the county, from coast to mountains. And they have the courage to talk about it in a positive, life-enhancing way.
The collaboration between Punkt PR and the cooperative, member-owned association (one of seven independent OK associations in Sweden), began at the end of 2012 and intensified in 2015 in connection with a change of management at OK Västerbotten. Since then, we – the agency – have assisted in areas such as developing the association’s new brand platform and communication strategy as well as launching and updating their annual PR plan. We have also been a partner surrounding business development, not least in terms of their organizational development, where OK Västerbotten has gone from working analogously to working digitally. The cornerstone of our relationship is our ongoing, long-term collaboration, through which we provide strategic consultancy, conceptual work and content for the association’s own and earned channels. Our PR efforts aim to bring proof to the brand promise of More Value Together, as well as the vision of providing ”world-class” service to the people of Västerbotten.
All this with the purpose of increasing the association’s brand awareness, member involvement and rejuvenating an aging membership in the association. OK Västerbotten has chosen to abandon traditional marketing and now invests solely in PR.
OK Västerbotten is facing three major challenges: 1. Awareness. All stations within the county collaborate under the brand name OKQ8. OKQ8 is known by the public but considerably fewer know about OK Västerbotten, what they are and stand for, or the value the association brings to the region and its members. 2. Rejuvenation. The association has many older, male members. The association is therefore striving to rejuvenate its membership and become more appealing to young women. 3. Engagement. Many of OK Västerbotten’s 94,000 members are inactive. They do not use their fuel station card nor their membership and therefore their democratic rights within the association.
With this in mind, we have set up goals that will help us meet these challenges. The PR efforts must contribute to:
- A further and wider reach and increased recognition
- Attracting more young people (rejuvenating the membership)
- An increase in engagement (enabling digital and physical interaction)
Our extensive work on brand insight has led us to the conclusion that OK Västerbotten represents values that are vital to today’s young consumers:
- Participation and co-ownership
- Local connection
We also know that conscious and principled brands in themselves attract and create conscious and principled customers. Therefore, OK Västerbotten works intensively and focused in three primary areas of sustainability: social, economic and environmental – for the benefit of customers, members and the region. For example, in collaboration with local energy company Umeå Energi, OK Västerbotten has invested in electric vehicle charging points, which have been installed – and communicated – during 2017. The head office, situated in Umeå, is now powered by solar cells. OK Västerbotten continues to invest in local and regional products. Over the past year, the association has developed a new food concept called Street Taste.
A range of US-style type of street food, made using produce from Västerbotten. All of this is summed up in the brand promise: More Value Together. The more members that OK Västerbotten attracts, the better the conditions for developing the stations and, thereby life in the county. And the more successful OK Västerbotten is, the more its owners – the members – will get back in dividends. A financial and social cycle that has many winners. This insight, and the brand promise, permeates all strategic decisions and thereby all communication.
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