Stakeholder Research in Food & Retail for Ahold

In collaboration with LBi Lost Boys, STBY conducted a stakeholder research for Ahold, the international retailing group that owns large consumer brands such as Albert Heijn, Etos, Stop&Shop and Giant. As input for the development of a new digital communication strategy, Ahold wanted to gain a better understanding of the needs and concerns of their key external stakeholders.

Through a series of in-depth interviews with a mix of journalists, analysts, and NGOs in the US, UK and Netherlands we documented a large collection of recent and actual Customer Journeys. The recurring patterns in these stories, identified in the analysis, have been translated into a set of personas, each consisting of a rich profile description and a few typical aggregated customer journeys.

The conversations with the external stakeholders were complemented with interviews with key internal experts within Ahold. As professionals in Corporate Communication, Investor Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility they represent important ‘touch points’ for external stakeholders, either through face to face contact or phone and email. Their interaction can be one of the key aspects in the overall customer journey, just as the online platform can be. These individual touch points can all be ‘moments of truth’ that make or break the service experience.

The development of an online communication strategy cannot be done in isolation from these ‘offline’ touch points. They all need to fit together into a smooth and integrated service delivery. So one of the main research purposes was to develop a holistic vision on how the corporate website connects to the wider context of Ahold’s corporate communication.

By empathising with key external stakeholders, Ahold can look at their corporate service offering from an ‘outside-in’ perspective, validate their current communication strategy and innovate their future strategy. The insights from the stakeholders research provide a useful sounding board for this.