Collaboration + co-operation = compliance

Just as you wouldn’t rearrange the furniture in a friend’s house, brands and retailers must work together to ensure in-store displays meet the demands of both parties.


Imagine a young mother shopping in a supermarket. She spots a promotion for margarine brand Flora’s initiative to provide cooking equipment to schools. Having seen the scheme advertised on TV the previous evening, she is now reminded of it just as she is about to take out her payment card.

In-store marketing is an effective way for brands to reinforce messages received out of store on television, in magazines and outdoor advertising. But while the in-store marketing industry has produced a raft of eye-catching and effective campaigns, from shelf barkers to standalone displays, it is the last hurdle of installing campaigns in-store where the process often falters. As a result, an increasing number of brands and retailers are now working together to ensure maximum compliance for in-store merchandising.

Nick Widdowson, merchandising manager at Unilever UK & Ireland, says: “We know that shoppers are reassessing what they buy, and where. They are also reappraising the types of trip, the stores they visit and the products they purchase. Simplicity is the key to great standout in-store, particularly in the current climate.”

Most importantly, shoppers are looking for value, and trust has become more important. “The role in-store can play is to reassure the shopper that they are making the right choice, and the product they are choosing can be relied on,” adds Widdowson.

Unilever uses a third-party retail execution team to help stores implement its in-store displays consistently. This maximises compliance, ensuring the plan that has been developed is actually carried out in-store. “We place great emphasis on in-store execution to ensure that our activation is implemented excellently across all stores and channels,” comments Widdowson. “This also enables us to learn what works in-store to improve future plans.”

The key to successful implementation stems from the original concept design, argues Widdowson. If the setting is considered carefully from the very beginning of a multiplatform marketing campaign, it will go a long way to ensuring that the activation is designed to fit the in-store environment. This needs to be thought through from manufacture, fulfilment and distribution to the final implementation in-store.

“At every stage in the process, compliance can be restricted if in-store considerations are not met,” says Widdowson. “Compliance is reduced when each stage is not designed with the store in mind; knowing what works and what doesn’t work is critical – this should also be considered for each retailer and store format because what works in one shop may not necessarily work in another.”

Michael Sheridan, founder of Sheridan and Co, which specialises in point of purchase (POP) displays for the beauty industry, says the fact that merchandising materials are only thought about at a late stage in the marketing programme’s planning process often gets in the way of compliance in-store.

“Brands need to be thinking around a tailored effect so that their campaigns fit with the requirements and timings of events for individual retailers,” he says.

One of the most effective ways of getting stores to buy into POP displays is knowing an item’s effectiveness in terms of driving sales. Orit Peleg, shopper marketing planning director at OgilvyAction, explains: “Many manufacturers don’t invest in this area and are consequently left with many printed POP items that never see the light of day.”

When working with retail brands, we design the activity to best suit the individual retailer and thus be immediately compliant. For example, a DVD display at HMV will have different restrictions in terms of height, weight and material than one for Tesco

Martin Fawcett, Bezier

The two parties need to work together in developing POP solutions that enhance the shopping journey and play to each other’s objectives, says Peleg. She cites Nestles Purina pet care brand as delivering emotional cues and education to its category, driving basket spend and dwell time.

She adds that Colgate has done similar things for its toothpaste. “Colgate globally has transformed the dental care category by reinforcing that you need four steps to achieve a perfect smile,” says Peleg. “Beauty brands such as Rimmel and Revlon with fully branded fixtures are key in supporting the retailers in positioning their health and beauty credentials.”

A firm believer in the return on investment of retail marketing, snack manufacturer Kettle Foods offers a wide range of POP materials to cater for retail partners, including wood and metal permanent display stands, through cardboard shippers and dump bins, to clip strips on baskets and counter-top units.

“Our aim is to enable retailers to maximise the level of convenience for the consumer by offering occasion-driven solutions at the point of purchase,” says marketing director Louise Grant.

Long gone are the days when a shop was just a physical environment stocking products. Retailers are brands as much as any product or service, and for manufacturers to convince retailers to allow their branded display in store, retailers need to know what’s in it for them and to be able to clearly see this benefit.

“When working with retail brands, we help them by designing the activity to best suit the individual retailer and thus be immediately compliant,” says Martin Fawcett, director of shopper marketing agency Coutts Creative, part of POP specialist Bezier. “For example, a DVD display at HMV will have different restrictions in terms of height, weight and material than one for Tesco.”

After the design and manufacture stage, the issue of compliance can be tackled in a number of ways. Some of the initiatives Coutts Creative recommends include implementing high visibility packaging on the POP for clients including Asda and Boots so that retail stores are aware of what is arriving in the post; using the store’s intranet to give them warning of when an in-store campaign is due to arrive; sending stores training videos on how best to install campaigns; giving workshops in retail stores to educate them on the importance of POP and what sort of returns they can generate by using it; and sending a display to a store ready stocked with product so it doesn’t have to be filled by staff.

Such an approach may be prudent at a time when the retail sector is rethinking its priorities as the recession heralds a fundamental shift of what shoppers most value and are prepared to pay for, but Martin Hayward, head of futures at retail specialist Dunnhumby, argues that it is an exciting time to be in the in-store environment.

“Marketers need to think carefully about the way campaigns are implemented,” he says. “Whatever a marketer is spending on a retail marketing campaign, it is crucial that the project is managed efficiently and effectively.”

He adds: “With so many brands seeking consumer attention in-store from a limited number of shoppers, getting the right message to the right consumer at the right time in the right place can be the difference between survival and failure.” Now is the time to comply.

Case study: Ribena

A humorous campaign for soft drink brand Ribena this summer centred around giving away 1 million inflatable “office assistants” as part of a summer on-pack promotion for its cartons and bottles. The joke being that office workers can leave one of the inflatables at their desks while they go outside and enjoy the summer sun.

As many brands have found to their cost, not working effectively with the retail partner on the thinking behind a given campaign contributes towards a lack of compliance in-store.

Retail staff need to understand that what they might perceive to be “fluffy marketing” is actually a valuable tool that drives customers to their stores and encourages staff interaction. This heightened understanding will contribute towards ensuring the in-store material is sited correctly and therefore signpost the consumer right through to the sale. Staff training has helped increase compliance for the Ribena “assistants” retail activity.

“If we want our retail colleagues to deliver an in-store solution that is gold standard, then we need to clearly illustrate what that gold standard looks like,” says Andy Jarvis, group account director for retail at marketing agency Billington Cartmell, which managed the in-store work for the Ribena campaign. “We always recommend the use of merchandising notes as a minimum – you would be surprised how many clients still decline to include them. But even better is a pictorial example of how the campaign should look in-situ.”

Two additional tactics used on Ribena were delivering merchandising materials via wholesale the day before stock arrived and placing basic in-store elements in the bottom of product crates for when shelf replenishment took place.

“We all spend a lot of time understanding, reacting to and engaging with our consumers – we need to direct the same amount of rigor and attention to the customer process at retail,” says Giles Dempsey, senior account director of the GlaxoSmithKline brand team at Billington Cartmell. “By optimising each customer touchpoint we’ll deliver the desired ‘outcome’.”

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