Stand By For Demo

Nov 16, 2009
Bernice Hurst

By Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire

new collaboration between Premier Retail Networks (PRN) and Rouxbe Video
Technologies Inc appears to serve several purposes. Under the partnership,
in-store videos from Rouxbe, the online cooking school, will show shoppers
some of the basics they need to cook assorted dishes ranging from “unusual
appetizers and homemade soups to international cuisines and delectable desserts.”

anyone who likes what they see can sign up at home for either free or paid-for
content at what Rouxbe claims is “the web’s first-ever online cooking school.” Declaring
that “we are currently teaching home cooks in 180 countries around the world,” the
goal is “to help you become a better and more confident cook by teaching
you basic to advanced cooking skills and techniques – the same things that
chefs learn in a professional cooking school – so you can be free from being
a slave to just recipes.” Recipes fit techniques and consumers’ famously
busy lifestyles. Tips, quizzes and personal support from chefs are also on

videos will be shown in-store through PRN’s Checkout TV network and TV Wall
network of HDTV screens. PRN said it has more than 210,000 screens in over
6,400 retail locations worldwide, reaching more than 600 million shoppers
with its programs each month.”

most interesting about the project is its target audience. Rouxbe says their
students are “home cooks of all ages that are motivated to become better
cooks.” Focusing on techniques taught through 8-12 minute lessons online,
programming on Checkout TV is usually no more than 30 seconds per segment.

Chase, spokesperson for PRN, told RetailWire, “With an average wait
time of five minutes in the checkout line, Checkout TV network offers marketers
a great forum to engage captive shoppers about products and services available
both inside and outside the supermarket … content selection varies by retailer
depending upon their in-store programming strategy.”

the in-store program now complementing the website’s free sample lessons,
time spent watching may be the incentive to spending more time – and money
– on the overall shopping experience.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of brief cooking demonstrations
being shown on in-store TVs? Can cooking programs work given the length
of time needed to watch? Whereabouts in-store is the
best place to position screens?

commentary] Customers watching while they shop, or once they are back home,
will find the programs informative and detailed, therefore necessarily time
consuming. The question, then: is the collaboration intended more as a marketing
tool to sell membership subscriptions than as a prompt for planning meals and
choosing different ingredients while still in the store?

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9 Comments on "Stand By For Demo"

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Kevin Graff
11 years 6 months ago

Set aside the time required to watch a video, and this is a great idea! Retail’s movement to ‘theatre’ and ‘experience’ necessitates these type of initiatives. If you’re in a grocery store, you’re obviously looking to do some form of ‘cooking’. What everyone knows is that more people need to/want to cook better. Now you can get more than just the products at the grocery store…you can get the ideas of what to do with them.

Doug Stephens
Doug Stephens
11 years 6 months ago

I think what grocery stores need to get better at is providing on-demand information to shoppers–instead of interruption-based signage and video.

If I want to cook a prime rib roast but don’t know how, can I access that information quickly and easily? If I want to know what I need to bake bread, can I find out? Grocery stores have been woefully lacking in this regard.

I believe that when we look back 5-10 years from now, we’ll see that digital signage and in-store video was just a low-value stopping point on the way to digital personal shopping assistants. PSAs will give shoppers exactly the information they need, when they need it. And all permission based as opposed to interruption based.

Roger Saunders
11 years 6 months ago

“Time poverty” and “space/equipment costs” works against this being a big winner. However, if a retailer has the commitment and facilities to conduct these classes, it’s a treat for consumers–both for themselves and to watch others in the mix.

The cost justification for the strategy has to include the marketing and merchandising teams. The right retailer might ask, “Why not pull in the Food Network, or other similar local programmer?” That step could provide content, localization, and introduce the human aspect of “that’s my neighbor” (we’re not all Rachel Ray’s or Emeril’s).

Doron Levy
Doron Levy
11 years 6 months ago

Seems like more of a distraction at the store level than anything. In-store media has a purpose but I can’t see customers crowding around a screen waiting for the ingredients list to appear. Who has time for that stuff? And the only thing that should be distracting my customers is something they can buy. Screens are nice but merchants need to get back to merchandising and using the store, fixtures and signage to sell product.

Jonathan Marek
11 years 6 months ago

Not to be curmudgeonly, but if they play Rachael Ray I’m leaving my cart behind and running from the store.

Don Delzell
Don Delzell
11 years 5 months ago
There is a type of video content known as “empowerment programming.” It’s intended to “empower” the consumer to live better, eat better…improve their lives….through specific products. Cooking shows are a natural element of this programming, and a segment of the population absolutely loves cooking programs. That being said, is the checkout line the right place, and are grocery stores in general the right place for these? Yes and no. As far as I know, there are no studies which show that Checkout TV adds to grocery market basket size. After all, the consumer is done shopping at that point. If the metric for value is an increase in food sold, no, I don’t think this makes sense. If the metric in value is consumer engagement in line, which will reduce line-rage, then yes, this makes sense. As noted above, this type of content is valued. Wait…there are retail locations and even types of food retailers where the content does make sense. Places like Cost Plus, or upscale grocers like Whole Foods, stores like Williams-Sonoma or… Read more »
Norrelle Goldring
Norrelle Goldring
11 years 5 months ago

Feels like there are two different occasions and needs here–consuming vs. shopping/purchasing.

Cooking demonstrations are about in-home consumption and usage. Checkout is the right place for this as:
a) shoppers have already completed the trip
b) they’re there on average for 6 minutes (in Australia, anyway)
c) average aisle time is 15 to 90 seconds, so it won’t work in-aisle.

Smart retailers would also link it to their in-store magazines and circulars.

The other part of the store in which the cooking demonstrations could work is in ‘chef’s corners’ for those stores that have a chef demonstrating daily recipes…could be used as a secondary ‘for more information’ option.

Then there’s what to do in the aisles, which is about shopping trip, and solutions for needs. This is where recipe cards, and bundled ‘dinner tonight’, and ready-to-eat lunch solutions (co-located, bundled price, etc) come in–‘Feed the family for $10’ with recipes to achieve this.

The cooking demonstrations could be tied into aisle recipes but in the in-store environment, the focus should always be on purchase conversion first rather than nice-to-know information.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 5 months ago
Naturally, counting on extra time spent in the store along with extra sales from customers watching videos in checkout lines is unrealistic. Checkout TV has been tried by many companies, most notably Citicorp’s huge but ultimately misspent investment in the late 80s and early 90s. Heck, my first company, Theater-On-The-Wall (an in-store video concept), which I formed as a college senior, was eventually sold to American Sign & Indicator and they totally screwed it up. We tried in-store video at Catalina Marketing without success despite our having support from CPGs. Maybe it was a content problem. While with Raley’s, I was charged with responsibility for our chain-wide test of VideoCart. Didn’t work, either. In-store video has long been a dream of marketers. I think it’s cool, too, but I’ve always wondered how to manage the herd mentality of shoppers clustering their carts in haphazard mobs in critical traffic areas while mesmerized by TV. If you think they wander aimlessly and unaware of their surroundings now, how will a video wall affect them? And what about… Read more »
Jerry Gelsomino
11 years 5 months ago

This is one of the best uses for in-store video; demonstrations giving ideas and suggestions for solutions or fashion tips. While I agree that to many, videos in stores are a distraction, and please, stop running those runway fashion videos! But if one customer is inspired by the tips communicated in Cliff Notes format, with ingredients or accessories immediately adjacent to the monitor for easy selection, then they are worth the effort.

And maybe there is a place for personal video presentations or one-on-one demonstrations, about the size of a airline seat back video, rather than room-sized monitors that you are forced to look at and listen to, whether you are interested or not.


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