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Interview with Giedrius Juozapavicius, Brand Communications Director, Maxima Grupe

By Adam Mullett. 06.01.2009

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If the Maxima brand was a personality then this personality would be open and practical.

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How would you define the Maxima brand?
– The Maxima brand encompasses two areas of activity. First of all, Maxima creates convenient and universal places where people can buy everyday food, household appliances, leisure goods, even clothing. Secondly, Maxima creates new brands that expand the supply of consumer goods and services. The products labeled with their own brands offer quality for an attractive price.
Maxima positions its retail chain as having a universal and wide assortment of products, shops of various sizes and being so geographically widespread, including areas where the population in scarce.
The essence of the Maxima brand is convenience for the customer. This concept encompasses all the advantages of our supermarkets–convenient locations, easy to navigate between the shelves, convenient product layout, best prices and quick, convenient service.
If the Maxima brand was a personality then this personality would be open and practical–it does not embroider anything, it sees things the way they are and informs about it. But it is also good-natured, has a sense of humor, and stays positive and in a good temper. The Maxima brand communicates not subsistence, but domestic life, which can be made easier.
We mustn’t forget that the understanding of the exceptionality and value of this brand varies in different countries. In Lithuania, we can speak about all the exceptional factors of Maxima, but in Estonia we can speak only about some of these at the moment.
Why is the Maxima brand perceived differently in each of the Baltic countries?
– The Maxima brand is well known in all three Baltic states. In Lithuania and Latvia, the brand recognition is up to 100 percent and in Estonia almost 90 percent. The strategy of positioning is based on the same brand principles in all three countries. The difference is that the level of expression of our brand’s advantages and exclusivity varies in each. In Estonia, our retail chain is just being expanded: Maxima X-type stores dominate there and XX- and XXX-type stores are few in number. So in Estonia Maxima is seen as a store of small spaces and not such wide assortment. But we are single-mindedly expanding our chain in Estonia and consequently the meaning of Maxima brand will change in the future.

What challenges does Maxima face in new markets?

– In order to strengthen one’s position in new markets at first you have to organize a certain geographical outspread of the chain and form the “recognizability” of the brand. Also it is necessary to start forming the brand’s benefits and advantages to the customer.
I think that the common mistake of companies expanding in new markets is that they begin communicating the benefits of the company before completing the geographical outspread. In this case, the customer gets disappointed because he does not receive the announced benefits and the company suffers huge expenses for such a meaningless brand communication.

Would you say that Maxima has encountered problems in maintaining its brand image in the face of competitors? How does it deal with this?
– In Estonia, we are having problems with image not just because of launching a smaller retail chain than in Lithuania or Latvia, but also because of the smaller size of the stores that dominate there. What also prevents the smoothly creation of an image for Maxima in this country is society’s low appreciation of Lithuanian business in general–and also because our company is often related to Russia since the very first shops were opened in districts with lots of Russian speaking citizens.
In addition to this, quite a large proportion of Estonia’s Russian speakers work in our shops there. The funny thing is that according to research, some Estonians tend to relate our name with the well-known Russian first name Maxim.
Nevertheless, we are solving this and other brand problems in Estonia, for example by organizing Estonian language courses for all our employees and intensifying our cooperation with local partners.
We also hope that the newly appointed head of the Estonian Maxima retail chain, who knows the local market really well, will help the company to understand the specifics of Estonian consumption culture and take the appropriate steps in marketing and image formation.
In Latvia, our main image problems are related to slower services and convenience assurance. So having performed research and analyzed the situation, we have made decisions that will accelerate the assurance of the main benefit at Maxima– convenience.
Accordingly, this year we have been actively communicating our efforts and initiatives to change and ensure more convenient shopping. We are already monitoring the first results. According to research in the Baltic states, more than 30 percent of Latvian citizens said this summer that they usually did their shopping at Maxima stores.
In Lithuania, Maxima’s image is the brightest. According to recently published data by the London-based company EPSI Rating, even though the overall satisfaction with supermarkets is decreasing, Maxima’s index is higher than the total state index by customer loyalty – 75.2 against Maxima’s 81.7.


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