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Loblaw Leans into Omnichannel Solutions

26 Jun 2024

Loblaw Companies Ltd. continues to seek ways to grow and be a leader in Canada’s retail media space. On June 11, Loblaw hosted its “Upfront,” an annual event that gives the retailer an opportunity to present its goals and strategies for growth to brand partners. Three members of Mars United℠ Commerce’s Client Leadership team attended the event and came away with these findings.

This year’s Upfront focused on Loblaw’s omnichannel plans for expansion across its three main divisions: Shoppers Drug Mart, Supermarket, and Hard Discount.

A Quick Look at Loblaw 

Shoppers Drug Mart: Loblaw’s retail pharmacy chain has more than 1,300 stores in 10 provinces and two territories, and accounts for 31% of total company sales.

Supermarket: Loblaw’s superstore grocery banners, including Loblaws, Atlantic Superstore, and Real Canadian Superstore, total 200-plus locations across Canada and account for 50% of sales.

Hard Discount: Loblaw’s value stores make up 16% of the total Canadian market, led by the Maxi and No Frills chains. The retailer plans to open 40 new stores and convert dozens of other locations by the end of 2024. The conversions have been primarily focused on expanding the Maxi and No Frills formats.

Across these businesses, growth plans for the next year will focus on three key areas:

1. Digital Advertising

Loblaw will continue to develop omnichannel advertising solutions aimed at encouraging product discovery, driving brand loyalty, and maximizing business reach by meeting shopper needs. Lauren Steinberg, SVP Digital, Loyalty Media, noted, “Customers who shop in-store and on PC Express [Loblaw’s grocery delivery and pickup service] spend about 26% more than customers who only shop in our stores. Speaking to the most valuable customers starts online.” 

Tapping into this customer base will require Loblaw to be wherever shoppers are searching, browsing, comparing, and planning their in-store trip. The most effective way to reach these omnichannel shoppers is through the Advance powered by Loblaw retail media network, Steinberg explained. By leveraging Canada’s largest loyalty program, PC Optimum, and its 15.5+ million active members, the platform delivers media segmentation at scale and an extensive database of shopper insights. 

2. A New Omnichannel Optimization Platform

Coming in the fourth quarter is LOOP: the Loblaw Omnichannel Optimization Platform, which is built to provide omnichannel measurement and insights that will facilitate optimal budget allocations and objective-based campaigns for brand partners. The platform will also deliver shopper and cart analytics reports.

The platform will capture the full impact of omnichannel measurement across any activation channel:

  • Instagram, 
  • Facebook,
  • Offsite display, 
  • Onsite display, 
  • In-store media, and 
  • Onsite sponsored products.

Brands will be able to access comprehensive customer insights that answer such questions as:

  • Who are the shoppers?
  • How are they shopping for your brands?
  • What else are they purchasing?
  • What is the impact of innovations and promotions?

3. An Intense Focus on Data

Effectively and efficiently reaching shoppers at any point along the path to purchase is fueled by reliable data. Swetha Subramanian, VP-Data Strategy and Measurement Science, explained that making  sound decisions takes three steps: “First, you need credible data. Two, [the data] has to tell you something new. And three, it has to be actionable.”

If these three steps are met, brands can drive business decisions effectively. To harness the data, however, brands need to adopt a collaborative approach across their ecommerce, brand, and shopper teams to assure a successful omnichannel strategy. 

The ultimate goal for LOOP is to provide insights that surpass traditional expectations for closed-loop measurement by tracking behaviour wherever the shopper may be.

Additional Takeaways

Retail media spending in Canada is projected to jump 52% to $3.8 billion in 2025 and account for 23% of all digital ad dollars. So it’s no surprise that this year’s Upfront focused on the launch of LOOP and Loblaw’s efforts to simplify media planning and buying for brand partners.

In addition to the retail media initiatives, Loblaw is looking to grow its three divisions both physically and digitally. The retailer is identifying underserved communities in which to expand the Hard Discount format and provide shoppers with affordably priced groceries. And as beauty and personal care sales continue to rise, Loblaw wants to grow Shoppers Drug Mart by offering more luxury beauty brands and skincare lines. Across the supermarket banners, the focus will be creating excitement among customers with new pricing and promotion initiatives that particularly leverage the loyalty program. 

No matter where brands are looking to grow their business at Loblaw, it’s clear that the retailer is making every avenue available. It will be important for brands to stay on top of LOOP’s launch to see how it works and which of its capabilities will make the most sense to utilize. 

To learn more about retail media opportunities at Loblaw, download the inaugural edition of our Retail Media Report Card: Canada.

(This form doesn’t download reports)

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