Retail Customer Experience: Making the case for custom point-of-purchase content

Discussion
Sep 15, 2009
Avatar

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.

Ugh!

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
at.

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.

Discussion Questions:
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?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

19 Comments on "Retail Customer Experience: Making the case for custom point-of-purchase content"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Paula Rosenblum
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

The Brand is holy. That sounds a bit melodramatic, but it’s true. And the point of purchase is where retailers get to make good on the implicit promise in their advertisements.

Without complete consistency across all sales and marketing channels, a brand cannot hope to compete. And if you break that promise, it will take about 25 minutes for customers to post their dissatisfaction on every social network in the universe.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 7 months ago

At the store level you want to close the sale. In the media, you want to get them to walk in the door. So yes, they are two entirely different animals and must be executed differently. In store messages should focus on the touch/taste/shininess of the product. Best Buy executes effectively in most categories, (how can they not considering what they are selling). Another great player is The Apple Store. Successful retail does hinge on the in store messages you convey. It could be the difference between a single item purchase or a bigger basket.

Peter Milic
Guest
Peter Milic
11 years 7 months ago

The goal of advertising would not be the same in traditional media as it would be within a retail environment. Within a store and more specifically at the point of purchase, the mindset of the consumer is focused on making a choice between alternatives. These are likely to be brands within a category, but it could be a choice between subcategories (i.e. chips, pretzels, popcorn for snacking).

Traditional advertising is not created to evoke an immediate response, rather it attempts to portray a product as a suitable choice when the time comes to make a decision. Given the mindset of the shopper is to make a decision in the next few minutes or even seconds, the in-store message needs to focus on what is most relevant to that particular shopper on that particular day. That is really difficult since the only thing that appears to be relevant to all shoppers all days is price.

Dan Raftery
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Some messages created for mass media can serve a useful purpose in retail, but only when the shopper has been exposed to the message outside the store. I agree that the differences between planned, reminded and impulse purchases should be considered when developing in-store messages. The problem, however, is that traditional message delivery methods are product-centric, not consumer-centric and any given product could be potentially driven by all three decision types.

Two solutions currently exist. The first involves using the cellular networks to deliver a personalized massage. Plenty of efforts going on there. The second has been around for a long time, but has been relegated to the automotive parts categories–the cross-reference guide.

Shoppers need data to buy the right oil filter. In the food aisles, they are increasingly interested in ingredient and nutrition data, but can only get that information online. The next breakthrough in in-store customized marketing could be just around the corner.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Where is Don Schultz, the apostle of integrated marketing, when you need him? Of course the message must be consistent between all marketing communications–this would be Marketing 101. This means your media message must fit your brand message must fit your packaging must fit your pricing must fit your location on the shelf. Inconsistencies doom a brand. (Anyone remember Delta Gold Potato Chips?)

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Brand advertising should carry a consistent message promoting the brand’s attributes across all advertising. Telling the story of the brand and how it will benefit consumers is essential in a campaign. This can be expressed using facts or emotion. In-store marketing should reflect these efforts. The tactics of in-store marketing may change to fit the retailers, but the core story should not.

Those tactics are influenced by what the retailer will permit, budgets, footprint in the store, etc. They can be adapted to enhance performance at specific retailers. They can be supplemented through other promotional tactics. But in the end, they need to support the core story/message of the brand.

Sandy Miller
Guest
Sandy Miller
11 years 7 months ago

Customized in-store marketing is really customized in-store selling. It is presented at the exact place and time when shoppers make buying decisions. When effectively executed in-store programs increase sales lift 20%-100%. However, it must provide clear, compelling Reason to Buy information.

Lisa Bradner
Guest
Lisa Bradner
11 years 7 months ago

I think a definition of personalized content is important here: I don’t necessarily need a shelf talker that says ‘hi Lisa” when I walk up–in fact I’m more likely to find that creepy than helpful. What I need is the kind of deep product information that today I have to research on the internet before walking in store. I don’t want it flashing it unbidden, I want it accessible and available WHEN I ask for it. That might be via a 2D mobile barcode and a WAP site: a big part of the personalization will be about understanding how I want to access the content as well as when.

Everyone here has said it already–the store is about closing the deal, providing data and breaking down barriers. It doesn’t change the value of the brand but if you’re not evolving your message from “you know me, buy me” to “here’s specifically what you get” once your customer hits the store, don’t waste a lot of time or money on fancy store displays.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

I agree with Mr. Milic’s position that there should be differences in the content of the advertising depending on the delivery point. Non-retail advertising is designed to position the brand/product as a something that deserves consideration when the time comes to make a purchase decision. At retail, decision time is here and so are all the alternative brands/products.

Certainly it would be effective to reinforce what the non-retail brand message was, but decision making process may only last a couple seconds for a food item, etc. For traditional shopping goods such as sold in Best Buy, the manufacturer has a longer period in which to influence the decision. The question then becomes, is advertising the best way to do that or is it educating the sales force on the merits of the brand?

Anton Xavier
Guest
Anton Xavier
11 years 7 months ago

As with online advertising, I would not be surprised to see advertising messages slowly move towards a consumer-centric model.

As Dan Rafferty mentioned, this would probably be backed by the growth in available nutritional and ingredient data applications. An integration of this data with purchase history and dietary preference data is the area providing the most significant opportunity.

Of course, the question of food label data quality has always been there but these issues are close to being resolved to an acceptable degree of certainty.

Harvey Briggs
Guest
Harvey Briggs
11 years 7 months ago

The brand is sacred, its core values, position and equities must be consistent across consumer touch points.

The message, however, must be relevant at each point of contact to be effective. At retail, the consumer mindset is much different than it is while browsing the web, reading a magazine or watching TV. The key is understanding where you are in the selling process and delivering a relevant message that will motivate your customers to pick up your product instead of the other options at their disposal. Take advantage of each opportunity to stand out, but make sure you do so in a voice that’s consistent with your brand.

Robert Heiblim
Guest
Robert Heiblim
11 years 7 months ago
As my firm worked closely in this exact area for consumer electronics we have a point of view on this. Our work online at etown.com and with Best Buy and CNet convinced us of the value of good content at retail. That being said, while the local content is more detailed and close to the product or category, it remains important for the content to be consistent with brand messages. Whether descriptive or even feature-benefit oriented the messages need to be relevant to brand value or over the longer term they may erode share or produce unintended results. Other posters have correctly said that “brand is the ruler” here and we agree. However, in the CE space consumers do need to be able to differentiate based on signs, packaging and POP. So, while brand remains consistent the need for content that illustrates clearly the differences and enables choice is key. This is especially true for vendors or retailers seeking to upsell or switch consumers. It is remarkable how many manufacturers or retailers ignore this allowing… Read more »
Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
11 years 7 months ago
The simple answer to the question would seem to be another question, namely what additional elements need to be communicated when the customer is standing in the store? Put differently, external marketing is effective if it motivates the customer to come into the store, internal marketing is effective if it motivates the customer to actually purchase the product when they are in the store. Whether this marketing should be different depends largely on the attributes of the product:– Is it a new or established product?– What does it actually look/feel like up close?– Is it a rational or emotional decision? (socks vs. a Hermes scarf)– How information-rich is it? (bag of flour vs. a netbook)– How broad is the distribution? The store environment is a major factor as well. Is it a self or full service format? The more self-service, the greater the need for in-store marketing. I think the comment from Steven Keith Platt is the most important–the purchase decision is influenced by several factors. Spending time on the difference between external and internal… Read more »
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
11 years 7 months ago
Traditional media (Television, Magazines and even the internet) are designed to reach a broad audience with the hope of attracting a few that will retain the message and investigate (maybe even purchase) the product when they recognize it in-store. I do believe that the message in-store needs to include a few modifications from the broad message. For example, what outlet are you selling your Brand (sneakers in this example) in? If it is Wal-Mart the in-store message needs to have a value twist. If your sneaker is also sold at Target that message needs to focus on possibly the image and finally if the same sneaker is in a sports outlet the message needs a performance twist. Yes, Brand should be king, but Brand needs to realize that consumers not only shop for Brands, but they also select a retail brand and your Brand needs to fit. Using a broad based advertising strategy to gain awareness is only the start. Working with retail outlets to modify that message so it fits is where I see… Read more »
Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
11 years 7 months ago
The challenge is that with everyone targeting the consumer with their individualized message, the poor consumer is becoming inundated. I rarely watch live TV anymore, preferring to watch it without commercials either on the Internet or via the DVD recorder. As all the various brands target consumers with their low-cost custom messages, it reaches the point where our ability to create messages becomes inversely proportional to our ability to impact purchase decisions. The consumer simply “tunes out” all the noise and buys their trusted brand. Instead of affecting a change, the cacophony of advertising simply entrenches the consumer deeper in their established patterns. Someone has to be a gate keeper here so that the consumer does not get overwhelmed. Maybe this is an important role for the retailer, who has to prevent their store from becoming an unpleasant experience. By managing the flow of promotions and ensuring that a customer is not bombarded by too many ads, the retailer can ensure the effectiveness of the ads delivered. This will probably take some negotiating with manufacturers… Read more »
Chuck Palmer
Guest
11 years 7 months ago
The issue of marketing content in the retail space has created opportunity and tension for decades. Fashion brands and department stores have been working together on this very successfully for years. These partnerships run the range from a single fixture or shelf presence to full blown in-store shops with dedicated, specifically trained and directly paid staff. Think about the pioneers in cosmetics and apparel; Ralph Lauren and Estee Lauder come to mind. Let’s look at this through the consumer’s eyes. She is purchasing a thing, but most likely, whether conscious or not, is fulfilling a need. She is coming into the store with lots of information from lots of sources about the brand and the store. The in-store experience is critical because, simply, it is not home (or any of the other places she gets hit with impression-inducing messages). In the store she wants useful (rational and/or emotional, she decides) information to make that decision. For some store+product decisions this is high-consideration and we have the luxury of engaging her in a rich experience. For… Read more »
Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
11 years 7 months ago

They are two very different stages of the brand relationship and buying experience. And while both must be consistent and excellent, I don’t feel the shelf is the place to build brand awareness.

The challenge at the shelf is helping the consumer through the tyranny of choice. The clutter of products and performance claims. The style, color and size considerations. I think it’s an opportunity to be the voice of authority, expertise, and category knowledge.

One of the shoes on that wall of 200 shoes is the right one for you, but which one? Can New Balance do a better job of guiding and educating you to the right shoe than Nike or will Reebok outdo both?

Branding is about breaking through the noise of competing messaging. In-store marketing is about breaking through the noise of selection.

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
11 years 7 months ago

At some point people are going to break. I keep referencing the “Paradox of Choice,” by Barry Schwartz. When is communication going to be too much?

Ben Sprecher
Guest
Ben Sprecher
11 years 7 months ago
This is fundamentally about relevance to the shopper. Sure, creating different content for point-of-purchase vs. TV advertising can be valuable, but it has to be more relevant to the shopper. Most comments above have been talking about relevance in terms of lining up with the shopper’s mindset while shopping, but there is a deeper level of relevance we should talk about too: relevance to that particular shopper. Think about Amazon’s recommendation engine; if you are buying a printer, you see the toner and cables it needs, but if you are buying a gourmet cheese, you may see an imported Italian sausage. This isn’t simply cross-selling, it’s based on the particular shopper’s past buying and browsing behavior and how it compares to other Amazon customers. Image the same level of support in a retail environment–buying shredded mozzarella could trigger notification that you should remember the pizza sauce and pepperoni (or, if you never buy meat, the sliced mushrooms instead). Lisa’s suggestion of the cell-phone-scannable 2-D barcodes, combined with retailer’s loyalty data, could provide the foundation. Or,… Read more »
wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Should a brand’s message be the same or different at the in-store level versus its message seen in traditional media?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...