Store Shelves Beat TV in New Brand Intros

May 04, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

If you’re rolling out a new product and you want consumers exposed to it,
television commercials are good but nothing beats getting it on store shelves.

According to research conducted in six countries by Nielsen Bases, stores
outdid television commercials by 50 percent to 36 percent when it came to making
consumers aware of new items. This margin is up from a 52 to 48 percent split
just four years ago, according to U.S. numbers for stores
(53 percent) and television (39 percent) were higher than the overall averages.

Consumers identified as heavy buyers were even more likely to cite store shelves
as their introduction to new items (55 percent). The findings of research support
the overall increase that brand marketers have put into shopper marketing initiatives
in recent years.

Mike Twitty, director-shopper insights at Unilever Americas, told Ad Age, "For
the longest time, shopping has been pretty habitual. People buy the same 300
[items] over the course of the year, so there was a lot of repeat purchasing,
and not a lot of engagement at the shelf. What we saw in the last year contradicted

Economic factors drove some of that change, according to Mr. Twitty. "One
thing they did was check the prices of things they used to buy routinely without
giving it a thought.. So in-store became even more important than it had been
in the past for new products or all products."

Interestingly, just putting products on in-line shelves was the most important
factor in driving awareness of new items, according to the research. Seventy-one
percent said they noticed new products within the standard planogram while
secondary displays, retailer circulars, demos and in-store media graded out
no higher than 18 percent. In-store media and sampling only achieved scores
in the low single-digits, according to the Ad Age report.

Mike Hess, Carat’s exec VP-research, marketing science and consumer insights,
said the Bases research misses some key points in new product marketing.

"My concern as a media person is that I’m not sure in-store awareness
is the same as the awareness you get from TV in terms of strategic attributes
and benefits," he told Ad Age. "A 30-second spot gives you
that … the unique selling proposition."

Discussion Questions: Where do you see the biggest opportunities for
brands to create awareness and drive sales of new items through shopper marketing
initiatives? What does the research cited in this article say to you about
the role of television ads in new product launches?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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14 Comments on "Store Shelves Beat TV in New Brand Intros"

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Max Goldberg
11 years 13 days ago

Successfully launching a new, broad-market product takes a well-coordinated effort encompassing media and in-store presence. Consumers need to know that a new product is being offered and then need to be able to find it in stores.

Communicating with consumers can take many routes: television, radio, print, in-store, online, etc. That communication needs to make consumers aware that a new product is available and highlight the benefits it provides. I’ve seen many new products struggle because they did not have the financial ability to create awareness among consumers other than on-shelf.

Anne Howe
11 years 13 days ago

As a shopper marketer, I love the results of the in-store environment as a way to expose new products to shoppers. But I do believe other media, including but not exclusive to TV, are important trigger mechanisms to engage a consumer into shopper mindset mode. As clean store policies become more commonplace, it is incumbent upon the marketers and agencies to explore all the areas along the path to purchase and create a more holistic plan that supports the launch.

As a shopper, I do tend to skip aisles and categories in specific stores; many times just to shorten the trip and stay on mission/timeline. There is potentially much more upside in a product launch when an integrated campaign is in place that addresses specific shopper behavior.

Carol Spieckerman
11 years 13 days ago

At a time of unprecedented fragmentation in broadcast media and SKU and brand rationalization in the store, the store comes out the winner as the ultimate in narrowcasting (and some of those narrowcasts are running in loops at an endcap near you).

However, that doesn’t mean that it is an either-or proposition. Brand houses like P&G aren’t investing in shopper marketing to the exclusion of supporting other marketing options, they are covering off on as many touch points as possible in order to complete the conversation loop with shoppers and drive awareness.

P&G’s recent revamp of Pantene, for example, was a comprehensive revisiting of formulations, usage situations, shelf adjacencies, packaging, pricing and marketing. However, seeing it on the shelf, “packaging change” might be all that registers.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks that shopper marketing has joined the other “SM” catch-all (social media) in the great undefined?

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
11 years 13 days ago
With TV advertising becoming so fragmented because of the number of channels it is very tough to justify a huge spend for a product launch. 30 years ago, it was much easier to justify this investment because there was no TiVo and you had roughly 10 channels as a consumer to choose from. With the ever growing popularity of Shopper Marketing there is no question these budgets will grow exponentially over the next two years and the money will come from TV advertising budgets. I am seeing a great deal more focus on in-store programs including trial, secondary display push and consumer education. P&G has recognized this opportunity and is taking action. Their move at Piggly Wiggly is only one example of many initiatives they are involved in at the store/shelf level. What to do: Retailers – Focus on finding programs that you can support in store and tie in with your circular and website. Look for programs that do one or all of the following: Educate the consumer, build loyalty for your Private Brands,… Read more »
Sandy Miller
Sandy Miller
11 years 13 days ago

Of course retailers must put items on the shelf in order to sell them. But our extensive and ongoing research and experience shows powerful shelf promotion, ideas, appetite appeal, time savings, and other shopper benefits causes shoppers to consider, find, and purchase items they had not planned to buy.

W. Frank Dell II
11 years 13 days ago

Many distributors would make their new item decisions based on the supplier’s media plan for the item. The distributor would make the supplier pre-sell the item before charging them a slotting allowance. This became a typical chicken and egg scenario.

As the research is beginning to show, the store must do its job to sell new items. If they don’t tell the consumer the product is there, how will they know to try it? As for TV, the book may be closing on it. Social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) may be even more important for new items than traditional TV.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson
11 years 13 days ago

The interest in Shopper Marketing continues to grow, and as long as the process provides value to the CPGs, it will be of continued interest.

Jonathan Marek
11 years 13 days ago

I saw a great YouTube video the other day talking about P&G’s “Store Back” concept. Start with the moment of truth of a consumer at the shelf deciding what to buy. What do you have to do at the shelf to get her to buy your product? Now, go back…what did you have to do at each step in the purchase funnel to get her there? To me, that’s the right way to think about major new product intros.

And to the question above, I think this process of thinking and planning “store back” is an awfully good way, from an economic value creation perspective, to define Shopper Marketing.

Ed Rosenbaum
11 years 13 days ago
The “Moment of Truth”! That point where the consumer reaches his/her hand to the product and adds it to his/her shopping cart. In this case an in-store shopping cart. That’s fair and I accept it. But what did it take for the consumer to have enough information to know he wanted to make the purchase. I do not think the in store shelf display is the only answer. It is part of a process. Having the product in stock and well displayed is certainly crucial to the buying want. Without it there is no telling if or when the consumer will return and make the purchase. Point 2: How did the consumer gain the knowledge necessary to know the product will fill a want or need? Not enough can be gained from seeing it on a store shelf. I submit there are at least two ways this knowledge can be obtained. First is from proper marketing and advertising in advance of the product reaching the market to whet the buyer’s appetite. Then follow up advertising… Read more »
Cathy Hotka
11 years 13 days ago

Mike Twitty is right: customers are re-checking the price of everything. And product manufacturers who rely on coupons to drive purchasing of new items frustrate shoppers who get fired up about the product but find that it’s not in the store. Rolling out a product on the shelf helps manufacturer, shopper and retailer all win. Fire me up!

Joan Treistman
11 years 13 days ago
Jonathan’s point is the linchpin to moving forward effectively for introducing new brands. If the research is to be believed, and it makes sense to me, the emphasis for the marketer has to be in the store. What happens at the point of sale should be the driving question for the creating packaging, displays and vying for retail space. I conduct research (for over 30 years) that uncovers how consumers use their time in the store and at the shelf to their advantage. I’ve observed the consumers, tracked their eye movements as they scan the shelves, packages and the signage and engaged them in dialog where they convey their emotions, their attitudes, their opinions and even their rational perspectives. They’re not working for the marketers. It’s the wise marketer that makes the shopper’s job easier and makes the purchase decision associated with the target brand the path of least resistance. This is not to say that other media (and I consider in-store a medium) cannot be effective. Media is one component of the strategy. And… Read more »
James Tenser
11 years 13 days ago
What media channel consistently delivers far and away the largest number of exposures and impressions to shoppers, every minute of every day of every year? Package labels. Congratulations to the Nielsen researchers for reconfirming this. All sarcasm aside, while they do seem self-evident at one level, there is a kernel of value to the survey findings, which suggest more shoppers are lately paying more attention to their final product decisions while standing at the shelves. We may infer the current motivation to comparison shop is economic in nature. But we may also be confident that shoppers make final choices based on a gestalt composed of all the influences they have been exposed to prior to that “moment of truth.” Price matters; but so do brand reputation, prior product experience, personal priorities and competitive alternatives. Some of these we can control. Many we cannot. For 20 years I have maintained on pages and podiums that “Retail stores are communications environments for brand messages.” The relative impact of those messages continually shifts as channels rise and fall… Read more »
Mike Anthony
Mike Anthony
11 years 12 days ago
Interesting conclusions; and as always, they need to be viewed in the “well it depends” category. The impact of in-store, shelf, gondola, TV, etc, depends so dramatically on the category, the product, the target shopper…a million things. As mentioned in a previous post, many shoppers miss whole aisles out. If this is the case for your target shopper, over-relying on the shelf as the driver of awareness is not going to work. In reality, it varies on a case by case basis. I’d also LOVE to know about the methodology, and how these conclusions were drawn. The article suggests “consumers cited” and “shoppers said….” So this was a questionnaire asking people where they had noticed new products? How reliable is that as a methodology? Also, what has happened to media spend on new products over the last couple of years? Could the fact that media spend on TV has dipped in the recession be more of a driver, than any significant change in shoppers attitude? I sense hastily drawn conclusions against a potentially flawed methodology,… Read more »
Dave Wendland
11 years 11 days ago

This confirms much of our own research. Putting an item within grasp of a consumer with the correct messaging and supporting in-store “theater” remains the single most important factor in introducing new items…enticing a shopper with new item information and then leaving their market basket empty at the end of their shopping trip is not only a frustration–it may do long-term damage for the brand.


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