BrainTrust Query: What do consumers want from in-store media?

Discussion
Oct 27, 2006

By Adrian Weidmann, Principal, Adrian Weidmann Consulting


A hot topic in today’s retail media landscape is trust and acceptance. As new and evolving retail media are appearing, the industry is looking to better understand how they will affect consumer trust in-store. To answer that question, let’s look at some history:


  • The radio was invented in 1895 but it took 27 years before a business model emerged from this newfangled technology.

  • Vladimir Zworkin followed in 1927 with the invention of the iconoscope – the basis for today’s television. It wasn’t until 1941, 14 years later, that the newly formed FCC authorized commercial television.

  • ARPANET was commissioned in 1969 and became the birth of the internet. On August 9, 1995, Netscape had its IPO and the dotcom era began. It wasn’t until after the bubble burst in the late 1990s, that traditional rules of commerce emerged out of this technology boom.

  • Networking technology spawned the introduction of ‘digital media networks’ in the 1990s and, not unlike the media technologies before it, this too was a tactical solution in desperate search of a meaningful business strategy. Technologists introduced digital media networks with a ‘field of dreams’ attitude blindly (and wrongfully) assuming that in-store advertising would pay for their displays and/or widgets.

At their onset, one common denominator that proponents of these technologies failed to recognize was lack of trust by their targeted audience. In every case, years passed between the introduction of the technology and when trust was established with the consumer so that commerce could begin.


The eroding efficacy of traditional media channels can largely be attributed to the fact that they have lost the trust of the consumer. If the consumer doesn’t trust the medium, they will certainly not trust, or be receptive to, the message. The consumer is taking control through media that have earned their trust.


Google is a terrific example. Google provides services that internet users find useful and helpful. It is only after these services are accepted in a trusted online experience that Google can reach out and develop commerce on the consumer’s terms. Banking ATMs, self-service airline ticketing and check-in have similarly gained the trust of their users and, hence, their acceptance.


To date, many in-store displays have been implemented as location-based store television networks or websites. Often, they are being utilized much like traditional TV – rooted in capturing people’s attention while they shop with little thought to the context of the shopping experience. It is only a matter of time until we see text scrolling diagonally across a screen, rationalized no doubt by claims of “engaging the customer.” These implementations are out-of-context “visual speed bumps.” If the consumer isn’t responding to your message in the comfort of their home, why would they respond favorably when you’re following them into the store like stalking paparazzi? Trust is gained by having a positive bidirectional relationship, not a one-way dialogue.


Discussion Questions: What will it take to nurture consumer trust in in-store media? How must in-store media differ in its approach, compared to TV and
other media?


In today’s media cacophony, what the consumer wants is helpful and enlightening filtration. Surprise and delight them and you’ll begin to gain their trust!
Digital media networks are inherently multi-channel (in both marketing and technical terms) but must first be architected in environmental context and implemented to help
the consumer (and retail associates). Upon that foundation, trust is built one brick, click and clip at a time. Having established this ecosystem, the consumer will then allow
commerce on their terms. – Adrian Weidmann

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24 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: What do consumers want from in-store media?"

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Laura Davis-Taylor
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Laura Davis-Taylor
11 years 1 month ago
This is fantastic feedback and refreshing to see. Within all of these comments is a common theme: it’s all about the consumer response to whatever is on the screens. As an individual deeply entrenched in the retail digital signage industry, I hope others see these responses and consider the danger of positioning RDS purely as an advertising play–it undermines the potential of it. I really like Michael’s comments, as he hits it on the head that we are in an environment where sales and experiences matter. Adrian’s commentary is simply making us look hard at the trust issue with all media–exponentially worse today than it was in the past due to the one-sided, overwhelming use of it. Or I should say the overuse of it. When RDS first emerged, many of us in the store design industry saw it for it’s most obvious characteristics: guaranteed compliance and its ability to target and daypart promotional messages to best suit the shoppers in individual stores. Anyone who has worked with traditional POP knows that a huge percentage… Read more »
Jeff Weitzman
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Jeff Weitzman
11 years 1 month ago

I must agree with Charles Walsh; the issue has little to do with trust. The examples in the Query, with the possible exception of ATMs, aren’t examples of consumer trust either. It’s quite a leap to use examples of the technology adoption curve to illustrate the effectiveness of advertising media.

Nevertheless, the use of in-store media is going to be more or less effective depending on how well it is executed. TV screens endlessly looping through a list of specials are just so much more background noise after a while. A video showing how to prepare a dish using a particular item, playing in the meat or produce section, or a useful cleaning tip in the household section may have a clear positive impact.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 1 month ago

What, exactly, is this “positive bidirectional relationship”? Is this just another term for “positive consumer feedback?” If it is, the consumer’s only possible channel for positive feedback is to purchase the advertised products. Thus, in order to attain a “positive bidirectional relationship,” all in-store media (not to be confused with “decor”) must be accountable for increasing sales velocity. So, how can video – commonly associated with ad exposures rather than unit movement – contribute in-store?

Contrary to some comments, trust IS an essential element in successful in-store ad/promo. Shoppers generally trust in-store signs and shelf tags. For in-store video to work (i.e., to be measurably effective for the sponsoring advertisers), it must be integrated into campaigns that include trusted media such as signs, coupon distributors, and sampling.

Dan Nelson
Guest
Dan Nelson
11 years 1 month ago

In-store media is either viewed as forced on the consumer (I’m a captive audience) or found as useful and valuable by the shopper– which should be the goal of retailers. Retailers need to be cautious since they now own the gate key, and not the suppliers who drive TV, Radio, print, etc.–which shoppers can choose to turn off and tune out. If shoppers are “turned off” by in-store media bombardment, trust and loyalty in the chain suffers; not just that store.

Frustrate or add pain to the shopping experience, and shoppers will take their business elsewhere. Give shoppers added value, (which effective in-store media can be) and they will line up to spend more money with you. Right now, shoppers are mostly indifferent to In store commercials/ media but the fine line to cross can come with big gain or loss consequences.

Joel Rubinson
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

In-store media can be very impactful. For one client, we calculated that the in-store communication impact of their permanent display with signage equivalized to upwards of $50MM in traditional TV commercial value.

More and more, preferences are forming instantly at POP, rather than the traditional (flawed) model of AIDA (i.e. that TV commercials create a premeditation to buy as a pre-requisite for purchase).

Also, in-store media can be entertaining, or it can be cacaphonous. Each store must police this, to not have it cross the line.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

Might we change the question and ask why we should want in-store media to succeed? Are there not a lot of people who would prefer to shop without being stimulated?

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
11 years 1 month ago
I find Mr. Weidmann’s interpretation of how consumers “relate” to advertising/marketing or businesses somewhat paradoxical. I don’t believe that trust plays much of a role in consumers’ decision to pay attention or to use a product or service. Perhaps if you substituted “reliability and consistency” for “trust” it might better reflect consumer patterns. Consumers are driven by what satisfies their needs. Google wasn’t built by consumers “trusting” it so much as by the fact that it delivered better search results and did so faster than any of its competitors. It is a demand and supply economy and the market is shaped by those who can provide what the customer wants and to do so in a way that satisfies them more than any other offer. I would argue that advertising is rarely something that any consumer trusts or desires. When cable television was introduced, it grew quickly because it offered commercial free entertainment and people were willing to pay for it. One of TiVo’s selling points is that it allows consumers to “fast forward” through… Read more »
Al McClain
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Al McClain
11 years 1 month ago

Retailers need to edit their in-store media mix better, just as they need to edit their SKU assortment properly.

The movie industry at one time had a good idea when they showed a couple of previews before each movie, that would spark viewer interest. But, they couldn’t leave well enough alone and 2 became 3 and now it’s regularly 5 previews before a show, preceded by as many as 5 commercials, along with a few “welcome” messages. The movie industry overdid it so much that consumers are protesting in some areas, wanting the actual start time for the shows to be published.

It’s always tempting to toss in “just one more” message but eventually you reach a tipping point and your customers have had enough.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

Trust is only part of the issue. Consumers don’t rush to a new media or format until it is clearly in a form that is easy to use and desirable by them. Just because new technology is there doesn’t mean that consumers want it, know what to do with it, or will use it. When it is clearly and obviously important to their life, they use it. When in-store signage is obviously useful and contributes positively to their shopping experience they will use it. Until then it will just be something else that slows up the shopping trip that they are trying to finish quickly.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

Any in-store media, i.e. communications to the customer, needs to inform, direct or answer customer questions. Entertainment is fine if you have lots of time. But if any media wants to be needed and appreciated by the customer, it must essentially take the place of an informed salesperson, the original in-store media.

Ben Ball
Guest
11 years 1 month ago
Two quick points to add to the already great discussion: 1) The level of “trust” a consumer will have in the messages delivered in-store will be highly correlated to the level of credibility a shopper already ascribes to that retailer. For example, the in-store videos prevalent throughout a Cabela’s store or a Bass Pro have high credibility due to the inferred endorsement of the store itself. Outdoors enthusiasts trust these retailers and therefore the messages they allow. 2) As much as we endorse and study in-store marketing, we should not be too quick to proclaim the death of traditional media and the purchase cycle. Our work suggests that the traditional cycle of need, awareness, information gathering, purchase and product experience is alive and well. What is often reported as “impulse purchase” or “purchase decisions made at the shelf” is really just the final stage in a longer process that starts with need states at home. The fact is that different consumers are in different stages of the purchase decision hierarchy when they reach the shelf.… Read more »
Pamela Tournier
Guest
Pamela Tournier
11 years 1 month ago
I think Herb is on to something there with “Think OnLine.” My firm works with credit and debit card data–we analyze transaction paper trails–which provides a panorama of how people shop across all retail venues, along with fairly rich media insights based on how people use information. (Yes, all of this is apparent in their paper trails!) We’ve seen a tremendous growth in the last 3 years in what we call the “On Demand” media segment, which includes TiVo owners and others who use “On Demand” information downloaded and viewed on THEIR terms, on THEIR time. And the recent growth of this segment makes perfect sense, because people are so busy and so bombarded. Maybe it’s an issue of trust, maybe it’s simple practicality, but the Internet provides the most efficient filtering mechanism for screening out clutter. To the extent that they can help lure people to the store with relevant, timely information, Internet and other forms of on-demand media will be successful and grow. But that’s going to require a very different creative formula… Read more »
Giacinta Shidler
Guest
Giacinta Shidler
11 years 1 month ago
I believe it has potential but it’s all about the content and the execution. From what I’ve seen so far, there are a lot of little cooking demos which just don’t work. They are making some fairly complicated recipes with 5 ingredients or more. They look good so it makes me want to pull out a pen and paper and take notes–but the segment is over too fast and anyway I’m not going to stand taking notes in the middle of the aisle. Also, the most prominent place I have noticed them is in the checkout line. This can only have entertainment value at that point since the consumer has completed their shopping. The content should be very short and very pointed. Suggestions for one or two items for dinner, snacks, school lunches etc. And tips on selecting or preparing produce, meat and cheese. Tips on the health benefits of various foods, and substituting favorite foods with more healthful products. Educating the consumer on specialty alternatives such as lactose-free or vegetarian.
Bernice Hurst
Guest
11 years 1 month ago
I’m with Stephen and others who have asked what I believe to be the obvious question on this one – not “why not” but “why”. The only advantage I can see to in-store media is to the vendor; I can’t see any possible benefit to the customer. You might just as well transmit on a frequency heard subliminally by humans – you will spend more, you will buy more, you will spend more, you will buy more ad nauseam. Perhaps it can be attached by RFID to loyalty cards or iPods. Or surely the technology exists to have the voice running below music broadcasts. In my old fashioned way I’m still a big fan of setting out products and leaving consumers to choose for themselves. They will decide what they like and don’t. They will ask questions if they want answers and, to use the word of the day, find sources of information that they feel they can trust. Am I the only one here for whom advertising is counter-effective? Way too much protesting too… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

People waiting on the checkout line would appreciate in-store TV that entertains or gives usable info. Some office building elevators have screens that give weather, news, and stock prices, for example. The elevator screens usually have no sound track, so they’re not intrusive, and the ads don’t wipe out the useful content. Some checkout line TV fits the high standards set by the elevator screen broadcasters. But much of the in-store broadcasting is useless, intrusive, or annoying. Do you feel bad for the retail employees victimized by having to listen to the repetition? And how many customers will prefer shopping in a less intrusive environment?

Ken Wyker
Guest
Ken Wyker
11 years 1 month ago

In-store media will succeed when it is used to “serve” the customer and not to “sell” the customer.

The content MUST be something that the customer wants to view; it’s ridiculous to think that a customer will want to see a commercial while they are shopping a store, yet that’s what a lot of the in-store media attempts to do.

The challenge for in-store media is similar to the challenge for email and the internet. If you want customers to pay attention, you have to provide value. If you can provide informational or entertainment value for the customer and at the same time communicate your company’s expertise, show how your product meets a need, or provide an additional incentive to purchase, then you might have a winner.

David Mallon
Guest
David Mallon
11 years 1 month ago

I don’t know Herb Sorensen, but I’m finding he hits the mark on RetailWire no matter the subject. I think he’s gotten right again here.

I don’t think anyone knows whether in-store networks will work over the long term. There are many exceptional details to be solved before we get anywhere close to knowing whether there’s potential or not. Chief among these is the CONTENT that will influence consumer behavior. Let’s hope it all gets solved before retailers just give up.

Besides the consumer trust, we have to be concerned about trading partner trust. Retailers would love to get access to brand marketing dollars and break out of the allocated trade promotion bucket. They’ll twist the brands’ arms to get them to advertise on their network, regardless of whether the brands find it to be effective.

With Wal-Mart putting monitors on end-caps, it looks like a price roll-back with end-cap display is about to get a lot more expensive.

Herb Sorensen
Guest
11 years 1 month ago
The key here, as Joel mentions, is quantitating the immediate impact of the message within the store. With television, the audience was far removed from the desired action the media was intended to stimulate. In the store, it is up-close and personal, with immediate impact. The difference is HUGE in both the opportunity and the metrics. As has been often noted, in-store media presents the opportunity for immediate feedback on the effectiveness of the media– did exposure lead to any change in shopping behavior and did that in turn lead to a sale? Answering these questions requires a good deal more knowledge of the audience than commonly exists. The store is NOT a small room like a living room, where all in the room might be presumed to be exposed to the media. Only those people within eyesight of the media in the store have any opportunity for exposure, and then only if the media happens to be facing their faces. And that is a HIGHLY transitory exposure. In the vast majority of cases it… Read more »
E Allen
Guest
E Allen
11 years 1 month ago

I find that, as a consumer, I go to a retailer to shop. I have an item or list in mind and want to get them and quickly. I find these in-store media attempts distracting and annoying, especially where there are several media kiosks within earshot.

And here I am badmouthing something the company I work for does at the end of many aisles. Go figure!

rick gringhuis
Guest
rick gringhuis
11 years 1 month ago

I agree with Mr. Walsh. It’s not about trust. It is about satisfying a need better than alternatives. Further, in-store media is bigger than narrow casting networks; it includes the signs, posters, handouts, flyers that populate the store space. The networks [let’s call them ISBs–In-Store Broadcasters] are just another layer of customer directed communication. If they are relevant [meaning they reach a customer at a point in time and place where the customer is open to communication about X] and meaningful [information the customer wants] then it can be successful. We’re going thru the “ain’t it neat” phase of adoption. And it’s the providers and retailers who think it’s neat. The customer has yet to weigh in. Personally, I find it irritating. The Jewel stores have put ISB screens at check out. If you stand and watch people in the line, 90% don’t even glance up. It’s the tabloids that capture their attention. ISBs have a long way to go to prove they are in fact viable.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
11 years 1 month ago

Consumers want an easier shopping experience where they can get in and out of the store quickly, can get what they want at a reasonable price with customer service (as defined by the customer). Some consumers like a fun and entertaining experience while shopping, others do not. If in-store store media can assist consumers with their shopping experience, then it can increase the consumer’s trust of that retailer over time.

It seems to me that more in-store media should be based on consumer needs and focus on things like clear signing to show product locations, pick-up for quick meals at the deli, products with certain health attributes, family meal ideas, identification of what items really are on sale and even restroom locations.

Consumers have lots of choices in retailers and don’t want to be bombarded while shopping. On the other hand, useful information to direct their shopping can be a positive.

John Morgan
Guest
John Morgan
11 years 1 month ago
Luckily, retailers already have the consumer’s trust. A recent survey by Harris Interactive found that only 6% of consumers thought that supermarkets should be more regulated, the lowest of any industry surveyed. It is very important that in-store media companies take this into consideration when implementing their networks. We must be very careful not to violate that trust. Herb’s points are spot on. This is an entirely new medium and it requires new thinking in creative and technology implementation. Messages must be relevant to the shopper’s environment. You shouldn’t advertise shaving cream in the produce section. We knew this when designing our network and that’s why we are implementing channels of content appropriate for each area of the store. We think these are some of the keys to this new medium: 1) 9 x 16 portrait-mode screens. 2) Shorter length communication (:15 spots). 3) Put screens near products and product content relevant to that area of the store. 4) Integrate store audio for messaging. From recent announcements, it appears other retail media networks think our… Read more »
Anne Howe
Guest
11 years 1 month ago
I think it is vital for our industry to let the consumer/shopper tell us through research what is influencing their purchases in the stores as the retail media landscape gets more involved and complex. At this time, we see low “vertical percentages” of consumers who indicate their purchases in many categories are actually influenced by in-store TV, but the influence of displays, events, websites and word of mouth is ever increasing in many categories. Also growing are satellite radio, and blogging, even though the numbers are still small, the indices are very high for some consumer/shopper segments in many categories. We expect to see the impact of in-store TV growing as more locations in the store are tested and more relevant creative is broadcasted. I hope the marketplace and the retailers will give this time to evolve into a vital opportunity and not be too quick to judge. In-aisle TV will likely have a much greater impact, and needs to be measured separately from in-store TV overall. Same for at register TV. Personally, if I’m… Read more »
Bob Lansdowne
Guest
Bob Lansdowne
11 years 1 month ago
I don’t think consumers “want” anything from in-store media, any more than they “want” something from traditional advertising, which is in effect an uninvited guest in their life, and is allowed in if it entertains, communicates about something they want to know about, provides them something of value, fills a need, etc. The issue is how to make it effective (and cost efficient) for the marketer and the retailer in terms of moving a good product to consumers at the right price. We all know that the way to accelerate sales of a product is to display it prominently. But only certain products can demand this kind of display, and the cost is high for the marketer and also for the retailer in terms of alternate use of the same space. The clutter of point of sale and other media in-store is significant and can interfere with shopping as much as it helps. I’d be interested in knowing if there are any objective case histories as to what key retailers and product marketers consider to… Read more »
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