See me, feel me, touch meâ¦

Buy one get one free might be popular with customers, but it is harder to design a promotional campaign that truly adds value. Still, much can be done in store and on pack. By Paul Gander

Clearly, any campaign has to satisfy the client’s needs for brand-fit, relevance and impact. It must also keep the retailers onside. Perhaps most importantly of all, it must mix the right blend of above-the-line advertising, in- store merchandising and on-pack elements to capture a consumer’s imagination. With retailers placing much of their own marketing emphasis on price cutting, it can be hard work for a brand to shift promotions away from discount-based propositions.

If retailers are to be believed, the balance of planned versus unplanned purchases has swung significantly in the direction of the latter. Sainsbury’s recently quoted figures suggesting that almost 90 per cent of purchasing decisions were made at the point of sale. The same research found that almost 70 per cent of shoppers would buy new products on promotional activity.

The BOGOF paradise

This sounds like paradise for brands, but once you have taken out the buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) element from those promotions, observers say this might not leave much in the way of value-added campaigns.

Certainly, these findings paint a picture of untold opportunities in the promotional arena. But how do you promote your promotion? And how much can be done in store or even on pack?

Marketing communications agency Momentum contrasts the huge disparity between reported consumer preferences for BOGOF and other types of promotion. Marketing director Luke D’Arcy says: “Recent research for a retailer in-store magazine found that almost 70 per cent of consumers surveyed found BOGOF the most appealing type of promotion.”

The same retailer research also looked at how and where the promotional message was communicated. D’Arcy adds: “A similar percentage (68 per cent) thought the shelf edge was the most memorable place to highlight a promotion.” This compares with 18 per cent for on pack and 13 per cent for free-standing display units.

Instant coffee is a category which, until recently, felt it had little choice but to follow the discounting route. Nicky Shelley, senior account director at marketing communications agency Billington Cartmell, has worked with Nescafé on its various Trinny and Susannah promotions. She explains how the client chose to break with tradition: “Nescafé decided that it wanted to add value to the category and inject fun and excitement into the brand.”

A guide to the shelf

This objective could hardly be achieved by using on-pack or even shelf-edge promotional messages in isolation. Television advertising was needed, but it had a specific part to play in the campaign. Shelley says: “Instead of just doing awareness advertising, it was linked to the promotion and was all about interacting with and experiencing the brand.” From the brand’s perspective, it ensured that the consumer was guided to the point of purchase. “It was important to amplify it with a consistent message,” she adds.

In another promotion Billington Cartmell worked on, the topicality of a film tie-in was boosted by plenty of marketing support inside and outside the store. Last summer’s Shrek 2 “Win a Donkey” promotion for Ribena involved everything from a real-life donkey to blow-up substitutes and braying in-store displays. This included a &£1.4m above-the-line campaign. Individual bottles and cartons also played a role, with prizes available to those collecting special packs.

Youth-orientated brands have been especially keen to encourage consumer interaction through their websites. In fact, convergence among brands in this competitive area of frequent-purchase packaged goods may have gone too far. Websites figured prominently in recent promotions for both Walkers (Win an iPod Mini) and Wrigley’s (Closer to Music) and, more significantly, both were offering iPods as prizes.

Entry to the Walkers competition involved both SMS and e-mail, capturing data for potential direct marketing while reinforcing brand loyalty through the promotion.

In both cases, as with the Nescafé example, high-profile advertising guided the target consumer in. Both Wrigley’s and â¢Walkers required consumers to key an identifying variable number from the pack into the website. Both also used the packaging to flag up the promotion. On the Wrigley’s promotional packs, the all-important number was printed on the reverse of the teartape.

For brands with limited budgets, the question must be whether on-pack promotions can work with no additional support. Mike Staines, director at marketing communications agency Triangle, does not dismiss the idea entirely. “But it will only work where there is high frequency of purchase, as with chocolate countlines or crisps,” he says. “That way, if consumers don’t notice the promotion one day, they’ll notice it the next.”

A vital ingredient

For promotions that aim to reach the largest number of consumers, it seems unlikely that major brands would rely exclusively on the pack to convey the message. But if one aim of a promotion is to surprise and engage with the consumer, then packaging continues to offer brands new options.

The question of placing variable codes on the inside of a pack is far from simple. Alcan Packaging, which produced wrapping material for Nestlé’s “Kit Kash” promotion earlier this year, points out that the unique codes inside each Kit Kat pack had to be printed cost-effectively and at very fast line speeds. Print quality had to be high while avoiding bottlenecks on the line. Also, because the codes were in contact with the product, food-grade inks had to be used.

In the Kit Kat promotion, the brand owner chose to direct consumers to a dedicated website, but this time opted for cash prizes. In another increasingly common trick to grab shoppers’ attention, the on-pack brand name – Kit Kash – and graphic were changed to fit with the promotion.

Other promotions where packaging has played a vital role include the Nescafé Gold Blend “Love Actually” tie-in. The integrated campaign, again designed by Billington Cartmell, spanned TV, in store, theatre posters and shiny gold-wrapped jars. The attention-grabbing packaging was from Decorative Sleeves. The agency claims that 4 million consumers followed the on-pack “hug here” instruction to reveal a hidden win/lose message printed in thermochromic inks.

Even humble teartape can be used to ring the changes between campaigns, and make a particular promotion more immediate for consumers.

Simon Wildash, head of marketing at Payne, which produced the “Closer to Music” teartape for Wrigley, says: “Teartape has moved from being just an easy-open device to a secondary branding medium,” noting that this has coincided with the vogue for SMS- and website-led campaigns from packaged food and drink brands. Wildash adds that printing a variable number on the reverse of the teartape means it is kept hidden, but is visible when the pack is opened. But Wildash is the first to admit that packaging innovations have a limited impact on their own.

Like Walkers with its Gary Lineker-led TV ads, Wrigley’s relied on advertising for its Extra sub-brand to point consumers in the right direction. This strategy was confirmed as being the most effective in plans discussed with Wrigley’s and other brands. “The ones that were seen to work best had their initial advertising to the trade, then used various integrated media to support point-of-purchase material,” says Wildash.

What’s in store now?

Meanwhile, battle lines may be shifting towards other types of in-store media, designed to lure the consumer to point of purchase or direct them to a particular brand.

D’Arcy points out that retailers such as Tesco are intrigued by the potential of in-store TV. The battle, he says, may be over who this media space “belongs to”: above-the-line ad agencies or promotional marketing agencies?

Unsurprisingly, Momentum thinks that agencies like itself should shoulder this responsibility. D’Arcy explains: “They understand how shoppers shop and how to drive purchases.” He also believes they would be able to respond more quickly with reactive promotional messages tying in, for example, with sports sponsorship and specific sporting fixtures.

Learn to play the game

Momentum sees the promotional climate changing beyond the major multiples. One campaign that was run when footballer Rio Ferdinand was still considered to be a role model involved his range of Nike equipment. Printed game cards inserted into a football magazine gave readers a unique number. They had to take their number to a JJB Sports store and enter it into a keypad to see whether or not they had won a prize. The prize was then redeemable via a website.

Triangle created a different type of sport-related campaign for Guinness during the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The pub-based promotion awarded a “typical” Australian an “Up and Down Under” hat for a first round of four pints of Guinness purchased.

This fun kind of “theatre” is difficult to recreate in an in-store environment. But perhaps the packaged goods brands and the multiples would benefit from looking at the route Nike and JJB have taken and the way they can attract customers to stores as well as helping to drive sales.

BOGOF and price-led promotions have their place – they may please consumers, but they are unlikely to inspire them.

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