Monday, November 05, 2007

A two-step test for adding new in-store marketing systems

Actually, the way George Anderson, the article's author pitches it, perhaps the question is "which is the right approach?" It seems that with the proliferation of new retail media, and the newfound acceptance these strategies have found, execs have started to decide that the question is no longer whether to advance an in-store marketing strategy, but rather which strategy they should choose. (Indeed this was the crux of an argument put forward by Marc Babej and Tim Pollak from Reason Inc. in a recent Forbes commentary article).

Getting back to the RetailWire article, though, Anderson asks two questions: first, are shopping carts offer potentially valuable media space, and second, where are the best opportunities in terms of technology for retailers and marketers to influence consumer purchases with shopping carts?

As is often the case with a RetailWire BrainTrust article, there are dozens of comments posted beneath the article, many of which are pretty insightful. A lot of them are also target-specific, focusing on the potential benefits and drawbacks of advertising on shopping carts (my two cents: a nice, but not killer, idea for static ads; digital stuff will never work). But the better comments dive into a theme that I've noticed becoming more common in recent months, especially as retail digital signage systems have really taken off.

Specifically, people tend to get wrapped up in one particular medium or message conveyance method, instead of looking at the entire store as a cooperative system. Even professional marketers with years of experience have been known to get easily distracted by the new/cool/shiny thing, and deploy it without thinking of whether it makes the whole environment any better. So here's my wholly-anecdotal, two-second test for guessing whether a new form of in-store media is going to be a positive or negative addition to your environment:

1. Does it put the message on the same shelf as the product? Retail media is local, and I mean really local media. You have two or three seconds to impart your message at best, and then maybe 5-7 seconds of retention after that. So if your message isn't within 10 seconds of the product, its value starts to decline rapidly. The solution: keep messages as close to the product as possible, and understand that the further away you move them, the less good they'll do.

2. Does it compete with or complement other nearby media like POP displays, posters and endcap setups? Walk into a supermarket and you're bombarded by messages, and that new snazzy addition is going to quickly become part of the background noise if it has to compete with messages for similar products (or even different messages for the same product!), and other clutter nearby. The solution? Get rid of all other forms of in-store marketing. Just kidding. Since that's obviously not viable, the real solution is to create integrated campaigns. If Keebler will be advertising 3 different products in your store this month, the ads for each should play off of each other. If colors need to be different, then shapes should be the same. The logos should be similarly positioned, and so on. If the campaign will feature floor-standing displays and spots on digital signs, they should look similar to each other. That way, even if one part of the message is displayed far away from the product, the customer will be primed when she encounters the other component that is nearby.

If your can't answer "yes" to both questions above, then you may want to give a bit more thought to your new media approach before deploying it to your stores, since chances are that it will not perform as expected.

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