Retail Customer Experience: Making the case for custom point-of-purchase content
Commentary by Paul Flanigan
Through a special
arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current
article from Retail Customer Experience,
a daily news portal devoted
to helping retailers differentiate the shopping experience.
At Best Buy,
Paul Flanigan managed the entire in-store network business. He now consults
on all aspects of digital signage and retail communication.
In a consumer’s home, the advertiser competes with everything; there is nothing
endemic about a TV program, a magazine, or the Internet. But retail
is different – very different.
At retail, the competition narrows down to the category. When Nike competes with
Budweiser at home, it’s only a matter of who likes what. But when Nike competes
with Adidas and Reebok and K Swiss and Puma (to mention a few) on a wall of
footwear, the category focus by both the customer and the advertiser at the
point of purchase is paramount. This is where the last 10 feet of the path
to purchase are won.
Why do advertisers and venues accept external advertising for the retail environment?
Why do so many brands and manufacturers just repurpose their 30-second awareness
ads to run on the shelf?
The simple answer is that there are not enough
data to support the theory that custom content does any better at selling
a product than regular broadcast advertising. Numbers get thrown around
all too easily: 70 percent of shopper decisions are made in-store. Or is
that 50 percent? I recently read that POPAI’s MARI project claims that
only “three percent of in-store marketing communications is currently passed
and seen by shoppers.” In a 2008 study from IMI Consumer Track, North Americans
were asked what influenced them to purchase brands they don’t normally
purchase. The respondents said they were influenced by an ad they saw on
television 24 percent of the time.
Why should retail marketing push brands and
advertisers to create custom marketing content?
You have to stand out. The amount of stimuli
waging a war for the customer’s attention is close to immeasurable. Repurposing
advertising does two things: It tells the customer what they already know,
and it tells them you don’t have anything to add to your proposition. Result:
The customer deselects you because there are other, newer things to look
The customer’s mindset is different in the
store. Marketers must stop believing that “purchase decisions” and “unplanned
decisions” are the same thing. An unplanned decision is based on impulse. “Oh…I
need shampoo, too. While I’m here…” Where the two types of decisions
mix is in the shopper’s mindset at the point of purchase. Therefore, the
approach to the customer should be different.
Advertising is part of the equation, not the
solution; it must work in tandem with everything else. Steven Keith Platt
notes that the purchase decision process is influenced by several factors,
including how a shopper navigates the store, the displays and all their
components, and a shopper’s motivation.
Collectively, these factors paint a better
picture of how a product gets into a customer’s hands. Marketing must sit
at the table and be a part of the deal so that proper attention can be
given to the messaging that accompanies the product.
The need for extra money to create custom
content will diminish. The content will be part of the negotiated deal
for the product life-cycle in the store. It will not be an afterthought
tapping into someone else’s budget. Further, because of its separation
from any other kind of advertising, it will give marketers the ability
to better measure impact.
While statistics may support some of the arguments,
they should never make a case. Knowing that the customer and the environment
are completely different in a store than in a home should warrant the argument
for custom creative at the point of purchase.
Do you see an urgency for more customized in-store marketing for brands?
In what ways should brand messaging and delivery at the store level
differ from branding efforts around traditional media? What are the
challenges in brands coming up with a distinct in-store messaging strategy?