Critics’ scorn won’t stop Tesco’s in-store television from delivering

The knives are already out for Tesco’s in-store television service, but media buyers shouldn’t knock the medium until they’ve tried it, says Greg Turzynski

No sooner had JC Decaux been confirmed as winner of the contract to sell Tesco’s new in-store medium, than media buyers set about condemning the medium before trial. After all, it is their responsibility to be guardians of clients’ media prices. However, to admit in the same breath that they do not yet know the value of the opportunity surely invalidates their assertion (MW last week).

The noise around in-store media fuels the debate about the connection between traditional advertising and behaviour at the point of purchase; and about the value and contribution of the various forms of communication that seek to engage the consumer prior to purchase.

Media buyers wish to relate in-store media to television – TV is familiar and accountable. At this stage we know that the two services are delivered via similar hardware, although in reality they are likely to be very different experiences for viewers. And clearly they are at opposite ends of the decision-making process that leads to someone buying a product.

A standard four-week TV campaign will be seen by about 80 per cent of the viewing population. According to TN Sofres much-publicised tvWORKS, this will have both short- and long-term effects. In the short term, there will be an average 3.9 per cent increase in buying among those who saw spots within the previous seven days.

Why don’t more of the people who saw the advertising spot generate incremental sales? We know there is a big gap between coverage and prompted recall and yet another to spontaneous recall. Some of the reasons for this are obvious: for instance consumers are forgetful and easily distracted.

We see about 290 advertisements a week on television, but there is still, on average, a 13-hour gap between the last TV spot you saw and being in a supermarket. When we get to the store, the competitor awaits, possibly being on promotion too.

Another message delivered at precisely the moment that we face indecision or choice, which prompts our recall, must surely close the gap between our hard-won intention to buy and the act of purchasing itself.

It is quite well documented that an out-of-store advertised promotion generates significantly more sales than an un-advertised promotion. Similarly, new news is a potent catalyst to improving advertising-to-sales ratios. These messages delivered while actually shopping have huge relevance and the potential to boost market share.

At present, discussions between clients and most advertising specialists rarely extend to the consumer’s behaviour in store. Hopefully this will create a new topic of discussion between client and agency.

We will know soon enough the value of Tesco’s new in-store medium. All indications are that it has the potential to significantly increase incremental sales. As it will be unusually accountable, the next step is to try the medium and learn from experience.

Greg Turzynski is a partner of Experience

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