NGA: Mobile Marketing Not Just for the Big Guys

Feb 18, 2011

One of the highlights at the National Grocers Association
annual convention held in Las Vegas this week was the push for mobile marketing.
While an industry observer might expect an event like the National Retail Federation
Annual Conference to feature the latest tech trends, with some definite exceptions
the independent segment of the supermarket industry has never widely been considered
to be at the vanguard of innovation. So, the fact that there was significant
mobile marketing educational programming and even a few exhibitors at the conference
was just short of remarkable.

In terms of content, the NGA show featured a
keynote address by Michael Becker of the Mobile Marketing Association that
included compelling numbers on the current and future impact of mobile technology
on the consumer. Mr. Becker then led a panel of experts from Wakefern, Coca-Cola
and Inmar Promotion Services that focused on mobile marketing for retailers.

panelists gave several examples of how mobile marketing has been effective
and, more interestingly, where it failed. One of the first efforts Wakefern
tried was to send coupons complete with bar codes to mobile users. The company
found that the process became too laborious at the checkout, so the discounts
are now tied to the loyalty card. Coca-Cola sent messages and offers for Diet
Coke and Coke Zero to what the beverage marketer perceived to be the target
audiences — women
for Diet Coke and men for Coke Zero. It was quickly determined their assumptions
on the audience were not entirely accurate and the message needed to be further
customized in order to be relevant to consumers.

The panelists also gave advice
to retailers of all sizes on mobile marketing strategies and tactics. They
suggested starting simple, make the website mobile-enabled, understand that
ROI make take some time and, most importantly, listen to the customer.

Discussion Questions: What can independent retailers do to keep up with larger competitors when it comes to mobile marketing? Do the small guys have any particular advantages they should seek to exploit?

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9 Comments on "NGA: Mobile Marketing Not Just for the Big Guys"

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Bob Phibbs
10 years 3 months ago

Mobile marketing is being backed by all the Madison Avenue types who lost their $ from the decrease in print and TV ads. Just because it is interesting, doesn’t mean it is anywhere close to mainstream. If you have Bitter Betty at the register, or produce that looks like it arrived last month or aisles so long and stacked high you feel confined, those I would bet can help increase profits more than new ways to coupon.

Paula Rosenblum
10 years 3 months ago

I think there’s a nice opportunity here. First of all, there’s less red tape around getting “some kid” to create a mobile site for an independent. Second of all, people are really really worn out by the lack of service in large chain stores.

The independent retailer can be nimble. Hopefully, price inflation doesn’t take the air out of that nimble balloon.

Roger Saunders
10 years 3 months ago
The Independent would do well to explore this opportunity with CPG and Manufacturing concerns. Some work together would provide new learnings for both. Based on the BIGresearch Simulataneous Media Usage (SIMM) Survey, an increasing number of consumers continue to point to mobile devices playing a larger role in Influencing their purchase decisions. Depending upon the category, the range of consumers saying they are influenced by the application / media is 3% to the low teens for categories like grocery and electronics. The independent’s challenge is one of resources and time. That’s why they have to align with some of their vendors. The prize this time is for “shared learnings” for both parties. Those “shared learnings” have to ultimately lead to sales and new/strengthened customer relations for the retailer, and added case sales for the CPG or manufacturer. Takes a commitment on the part of both, as well as an understanding that the independent still has to drive an existing team to keep the store(s) moving forward. Mobile devices are going to play a larger role… Read more »
Joel Rubinson
10 years 3 months ago

The article touches on an important issue. Mobile apps need to make the shopping process EASIER to take root. If you have used shopkick or stickybits, you’ll see that they fail that test so, while I know we’ll get there (harnessing mobile as part of our shopper marketing programs) we still have a ways to go.

Dan Berthiaume
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 3 months ago

From a cost standpoint, indie retailers should focus on apps that customers can engage with their own mobile devices. If the apps are well-designed enough, they can effectively replace the cost and expense of providing PDAs or even stationary customer interfaces such as kiosks. There is also the option of providing apps for employees’ own devices, although as touched upon yesterday ensuring employees are only using their devices for approved purposes may be more trouble than it’s worth.

Bernice Hurst
10 years 2 months ago

From a purely anecdotal and gut-reactional point of view, it seems to me that there is virtually no opportunity for mobile marketing to those consumers who prefer independent retailers. They are going for the very niche products and service that are available, not for the high pressure, high tech same old, same old.

That said, I was actually in Las Vegas this week and walked past the Mirage. If only I’d known what (and who) was inside….

Carlos Arámbula
10 years 2 months ago

Independent retailers need to approach technology as the great equalizer. Promotional activities will be available through the merchandiser, and it benefits an independent retailer to have the technology in place to accept the programs.

I would imagine independents will also have lower costs and time to update technology and leapfrog larger retailers in regards to innovation, and if that means suppliers will provide more marketing programs then the costs will be justified.

Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson
10 years 2 months ago

Staying abreast of what’s going on with mobile marketing is one area where size doesn’t matter. Small or large, indie or global–all retailers need to know how consumers are using and/or want to use mobile to interact with brands. And they need to begin crafting, testing and refining strategies to successfully reach mobile consumers.

It’s good to see indie grocers are taking those steps. One area where indies may have an advantage is their place in the community, e.g., their support of the local community, locally-made and -grown products, and the heritage and tradition associated with a long-time, community-based brand. Mobile can be used to tee off those positive brand traits by, for example, creating mobile- based loyalty/reward programs, using mobile to facilitate local currency programs, and/or using mobile to keep the local residents informed about what’s going on at their local store.

Matthew Keylock
Matthew Keylock
10 years 2 months ago

The mindset of any retailer when it comes to mobile marketing should be to leverage this personal channel by providing relevant communication to each customer in the manner that they prefer.

Independent retailers have more of a level playing field with larger retailers regarding mobile marketing because it’s still in its infancy. They have just as much time to find out from each customer what they want: Do they want to receive a message before the trip and help with a shopping list? Do they want communication in store while shopping, and if so, what kind of messages?

The retailers that use mobile successfully will maximize the medium’s 1:1 communication potential and not try to use it as a “mass marketing” vehicle. Needless to say, all of this must be done in a way that respects the customer by gaining their permission and respecting their privacy.


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