Marketers are using digital technology, customer insight and precision targeting techniques to get the maximum out of their point of sale activity.
As this summer’s festival-goers peruse the menu at Burger King train station outlets while they wait to travel to a weekend of mud and music, they may not realise they are looking at a menu put together with precisely them in mind.
Burger King’s travel outlet operator, SSP, uses digital technology to alter what appears on its menus at the food brand’s 40 UK travel locations to reflect different types of customers, their buying motivations and the time of day.
Billy McCrindle, franchise brand manager at SSP, which won the 2011 Marketing Week Engage In Store Award for Burger King’s digital menu boards, says understanding the behaviour of discrete groups of customers, such as festival-goers, has boosted sales of some products by as much as 63%.
“We place a great deal of importance on consumer insight. We work hard to monitor passenger profiles so that we can always be one step ahead of the game,” McCrindle explains.
“During the summer months, we need to cater for the festival traffic at key stations. Meanwhile, some stations are frequented more by families and others cater more for the business crowd.”
The screens allow people to get information quickly without waiting for someone to become available
This targeting means changing marketing messages at different times of day to complement the menu. McCrindle says: “The Burger King ’Go Large’ message is promoted after 10pm, for those returning home from a night out, and at weekends, when people are more likely to treat themselves.”
Customer insight is also at the heart of Nuffield Health’s Discovery Zone, installed at its fitness centres. Touchscreens enable members to access information about health and fitness, class timetables and details of other parts of Nuffield Health’s business.
David Grint, group marketing director for the health business, says the Discovery Zone fulfils two member needs: “Some of our members prefer to find out information for themselves a bit like surfing the internet.
“In some clubs, at peak times, members might need to wait to speak to a member of staff. So having the screens allows people to get information quickly without having to wait for someone to become available.”
But whether people want information about health while they work out or the benefits of products available to buy in-store, understanding the customer mindset is crucial to the success of point of purchase marketing, argues JML group managing director Ken Daly.
JML, which sells household products in stores such as Asda and Robert Dyas, has tailored its PoP campaigns on digital screens to suit the retail environment, rather than replicating the infomercials it runs on shopping channels.
Customers don’t want to watch TV campaigns in-store, says Daly. They need something targeted to an environment where they can buy immediately. He says: “JML ensures that ’how to’ guides, features and benefits are highlighted on-screen directly at the point of sale. The in-store video needs to be unique to that environment.
Customers who are busy shopping don’t want to stop and watch an ad campaign. They want to see something interesting and informative.”
Understanding the customer mindset is also vital to DVD rental brand Rent It Here. Its business strategy is based around customers being able to rent a film on impulse by popping to their local convenience store, explains marketing director Dave Robinson (see Brand in the Spotlight, below).
Robinson admits that Rent It Here had a hard time convincing retailers to buy into the brand and allocate space for its point of sale material. But concerns about space were overcome by the brand’s innovative touchscreen pod, which, unlike conventional displays, doesn’t take up a lot of space.
The pods are now in almost 300 stores, allowing members to browse the latest movie releases and reserve a film on site.
Members can also reserve DVDs online or via an iPhone app before collecting them at the convenience store counter. The physical need to pick up the film at the retailer, encouraging the shopper to buy additional items there, should make the proposition more appealingto retail owners.
The technology used at the point of sale, online and via mobile enables data to be collected at multiple points that Rent It Here can use to plan its marketing campaigns.
Forging relationships with retailers is vital if brands are to implement PoP successfully in stores, says Steve Dalton, UK marketing manager at German audio brand Sennheiser (see Viewpoint, below).
He too has encountered retailers which are concerned about giving up floorspace without clear benefits, which is why his brand embarked on a PoP project earlier this year, working with retailers to develop specialised in-store marketing that benefits both the brand and its partner stores.
Sennheiser is using a try-before-you-buy point of sale model, in which customers can listen to music through its headphones to experience how they operate.
To help retailers buy into this concept, the brand spent three weeks with some of its retail partners to develop a flexible, modular PoP system that could work in a variety of store environments.
Building relationships with retailers is a “smart trend”, according to Phil Day, director at point of purchase trade association POPAI.
Investment in technology-based PoP can be expensive, so working with retailers to find a solution that benefits both parties means that PoP is much more likely to get used effectively, rather than gathering dust in the stockroom.
Day says that using digital technology in stores to aid brands and retailers is no longer niche, but a mainstream activity.
He predicts that innovation in this area will come from even better PoP integration into other marketing techniques in future.
Day adds: “Gone are the days when point of purchase was siloed. Brands that are successful think of it now as part of their overall marketing strategy.”
The challenge Sennheiser faces as a premium brand is that our headphones need to be listened to in-store. They can’t just sit on the shelf next to the competition or people can’t experience the sound quality.
Earlier this year, we embarked on a three-week point of sale research project, which had a number of key drivers behind it getting retailers on board, developing a PoS system that worked for our sales team, and presenting our unique selling point to the customer.
Many retailers decline to use point of sale material. Sometimes it’s not fit for purpose and often they don’t want to give up floorspace. Our national project with 30 independent stores meant spending time studying those particular retailers to understand their needs. Following full briefings and discussions with them, we have developed five or six point of sale solutions that can be used for different in-store environments.
For example, the touchscreen system allows customers to select the headphones they want. Then, when they listen to a particular set of headphones, information about the product comes up on the screen. Other units have a simple MP3 player attached and information about the product is displayed there.
This modular system has to work for the Sennheiser sales team so that it can go into stores and decide with the retailer what works best.
This is better than the sales team having to consult with the marketing team every time they go into a retailer.
This approach to PoS is more expensive than producing just one system but it isn’t as expensive as creating a bespoke piece of PoS for each store it has economies of scale.
It’s an investment of £250,000 but the project is about getting commitment from retailers and gaining lots of new customers. We’re already seeing positive signs.
Smart brands are convincing customers to spend more by allowing customers to test the quality of the product for themselves at the point of sale.
Tailored and targeted PoP
Digital technology allows multiple messages to be broadcast in-store. Brands wanting to change their messages depending on the time of day or even based on the location of the store are able to update information with the click of a button.
Touchscreen technology enables brands to track the information customers request in-store. This information can be used to tweak marketing campaigns. If customers input personal information at the point of sale, a brand can continue a conversation via another medium such as email.
brand in the spotlight
Marketing Week (MW): Why did you decide to launch touchscreen pods in stores?
Dave Robinson (DR): We looked at various DVD rental models and decided that touchscreens had great potential in convenience stores. The postal DVD rental model adopted by the likes of LoveFilm showed us that there was still an appetite for DVD rentals out there, but we wanted to develop something that would work within the retail environment.
We took over from [defunct DVD and video store chain] Choices UK. It had its own stores [later purchased by Blockbuster] and was also in convenience stores, displaying DVDs on racking.
But increasingly, convenience stores were finding more profitable ways to fill up the racking space and so we realised that we had to look at other formats.
MW: What is the benefit of installing the PoP unit in stores?
DR: Customers like it because the touchscreen is quick and easy to use. They can register at the pod and go up to the counter in-store to collect a membership card. Retailers like the system because it only takes up 0.2 square metres in-store and they can store the box of DVDs under the counter.
We have developed a system where customers browse the films available to rent in-store via the touchscreen. Once they select what film they want to hire and how many days they want it for, they have to go up to the till point to collect the DVDs. This means they are more likely to pick up drinks and snacks from the store too. That benefits the retailer.
MW: Where are the Rent It Here units installed?
DR: The touchscreens are currently installed in 291 stores, including Spar, Londis, Nisa and Costcutter. We are trialing a unit in a Co-op which turns over £250,000 a week to see if the pod works in a bigger store. We are also looking at other store formats, such as coffee shops.
MW: How do you decide where the pods should be installed?
DR: We look at towns with populations of more than 5,000 and then look at demographics. The format seems to appeal to a younger audience. With the old racking system, 10% of customers were under 25 and now it’s more like 25%. The pods tend not to appeal to the over-60s and areas with high unemployment.
We have found that the system also works well in rural areas. You tend to find that people find out about the service in the area through word-of-mouth.
MW: What other marketing supports the Rent It Here proposition?
DR: We have just launched customer relationship management communications. About two-thirds of members have given us their mobile numbers and around half have given us email addresses, so we can send out communications letting customers know about latest releases. Each retailer is also given a page on our website to show opening times. Customers can browse the DVD catalogue in a particular retailer online and then reserve and collect in-store.
Recently we hired Harry Potter and Hagrid lookalikes to stand next to the Rent It Here unit in one of the Co-op stores to promote the latest Harry Potter movie release.