Why the silent salesman can speak volumes

Rich media, measurement and integration of the marketing mix are among the hot topics when in-store communications experts talk shop with Marketing Week.

The panel:

Joe Ward, head of in-store marketing, Morrisons; Steven Sturgeon, group marketing director, CL World Brands; Amanda Lakin, senior marketing manager, TUI UK; Philip Lenz, marketing director, JML (home shopping and lifestyle website); Ciaran Henderson, global marketing manager, Cushe (footwear brand), Nick Wilson, head of retail channel marketing, Vodafone.

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Marketing Week (MW)/ How important is in-store marketing to your brand and how have you used it over the last year?

Steven Sturgeon (SS): I am encouraging all of my team to think from the shelf backwards in terms of our drinks portfolio. This is a departure from the traditional marketing model, which advocates building a level of consideration before you get to the point of purchase. Now more decisions are being made in store and we have to be much smarter in the way we execute our marketing there.

The big challenge is how you create stand-out. We use things like tasting notes, on-pack communications about the heritage and quality of the brand and run tasting events and tutorials in specialist stores.

Ciaran Henderson (CH): Having in-store presence is vitally important to footwear brand Cushe. It provides us with the all-important ’silent salesmen’ to connect with our consumers and convey the aspirational lifestyle that our product can’t do alone. Throughout the UK, we have fixtures in independent and multiple stores and the PoP elements range from strut cards [small cardboard stands] to floor standing units.

Nick Wilson (NW): We have shifted the balance of our store communications to ensure we clearly demonstrate and deliver brand differentiation alongside our products. Marketing propositions such as membership programme Vodafone VIP and free extras scheme Vodafone Freebees provide a clear reason for customers to choose us when looking for their next handset.

Joe Ward (JW): Some PoP is really important but then there is the other more negative aspect of it clutter that gets in the way rather than a good opportunity for customers to engage with brands. Morrisons generally opts for standard stuff along with sales promotion and doesn’t get particularly involved with niche areas such as digital.

Best foot forward: PoP helps Cushe increase its sales
Best foot forward: PoP helps Cushe increase its sales

Philipp Lenz (PL):

JML promotions can be found on virtually every high street and retail park in the UK and Ireland. We have high-impact, freestanding digital display units, which provide a selling tool for our products. Here, our demonstration films and As Seen On TV branding generate synergy with our national TV advertising to increase footfall.

Amanda Lakin (AL): We work hard to align the in-store customer experience with our travel proposition and PoP allows us to get the right messages out to customers in our own branded environment. Holidays aren’t a product you can touch and feel, which makes marketing even more important in our retail stores.

MW: How much does PoP contribute to sales in store? How can you measure this?

NW: It emphasises specific offers, products, brand benefits or propositions. It helps to address a particular need, but the conversion of a sale is almost always because of sales staff as well as PoP.

It’s clear to see when we’ve got it right. We constantly measure the effectiveness of our communications, looking at whether we’ve seen additional sales, service benefits or an increase in return on investment.

JW: It is very difficult to isolate the impact of a single piece of communication. We don’t have a nice econometric model like the above-the-line guys that will deliver a formula based on spend. However, we are working on various models to do that at the moment.

SS: I would like to be able to measure its effect but I can’t. Unless I can get hold of sales data in the form of buying behaviour, it is a real challenge. We work with a lot of small companies and don’t have the budget to break that down. We have carried out qualitative research on this kind of thing but have not been able to measure it really empirically.

PL: We keep our in-store screen promotions in line with TV campaigns, and can measure this through footfall, EPoS sales, calls to our sales team, orders, stock take and traffic to jmldirect.com. We also analyse all media campaigns to understand the impact on sales and profit.

CH: PoP allows us to differentiate ourselves and give ourselves independent selling space. Positioning is everything though; having great PoP is pointless if you’re stuck in a dark corner. Measuring the success is largely dependent on feedback from the retailers directly. It’s the guys on the store floor who are going to tell you if it is successful or not.

AL: We have recently been able to carry out more active measurement and tracking of the impact of PoP via digital signage.
We have run trials with control groups to understand the impact of digital across different regions of the UK. This research has resulted in improved sales and more relevant content, while giving us the opportunity to explain the Thomson and First Choice brands and sell our holiday products.

Is it crucial that we try and join up the online, above-the-line and in-store experiences

JoeWard, Morrisons

MW: How does your in-store strategy fit in with the rest of the marketing mix?

JW: It is crucial that we try and join up the online, above-the-line and in-store experiences. We work with marketing agencies such as Pulse Group to achieve our aims. It is not just done through bits of cardboard at the point of sale, the greater part of it is delivered through our service and our colleagues in-store.

NW: It’s important to look at all elements as one, but there are differences. Whereas some areas are more suited to shifting perception, our retail environment lets us interact with customers, helping them to experience the brand first hand. Working with agency The Marketing Store, we create a distinct look and feel across a 400-store estate, using elements including tactical PoP and the emotive appeal of digital windows.

SS: In-store is an integral part of the marketing mix. Whether we are talking about onor off-trade sales in the drinks business, getting the marketing right is all about understanding how consumers make their choices. You need to have the right kind of PoP in-store to help convert that sale.

AL: We try to integrate our campaigns as much as possible. Where TV is used as a more emotive medium for TUI for example, we would look to retail marketing to communicate more rational product benefits to customers.

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PL: Our heavyweight TV advertising is crucial to our success in retail distribution. We typically split the year into six promotional periods. Within each period, we may be advertising four or more JML products. Our research demonstrates that this benefits JML branded products and also related non-JML products. Part of this is due to the field support team who regularly visit retail promotions.

CH: I generally review the physical pieces every four seasons. They are always built with interchangeable graphics and imagery, so the seasonal message changes along with all our communication, which includes catalogues and brand videos.

MW: What trends and innovations in PoP marketing have impressed you in the last 12 months? And what would you like to see more of?

CH: I’ve been impressed with some of the specific product PoP programmes that I’ve seen recently that support overall brand messages. Merrell’s Barefoot running and Puma’s After Hours Athlete are great integrated campaigns. Innovations are pretty few and far between in footwear, but there is some exciting stuff across luxury and FMCG brands, some of which could be transferable to lifestyle footwear.

NW: We have seen a number of exciting new technologies, including rich media touchscreens and it’s great to see the increase in smartphone technology being used by retailers to enhance a shopper’s experience.

JW: There is very little in terms of innovation in point of sale and I have probably been saying that for the past ten years. Lenticular [PoP with rotating images] made a bit of a noise when it was first used about five years ago but that hasn’t really materialised into anything and the same can be said for digital. I think the innovation is really more in the messages and what you are saying.

AL: The level of intricate detail found in some window displays on the high street today is impressive. They really draw customers in using tactile materials, hanging props, background ’scenery’ and more. At Thomson and First Choice, we are also keen to delve into ’window theatre’ where it’s feasible.

Digital signage lets us carry out active measurement and tracking of PoP’s impact

Amanda Lakin,TUI UK

SS: As budgets become tight and people look for more return on investment, a lot more is happening in and around the store. That includes sampling and partnering with complementary brands and categories. I have noticed digital technology at the point of purchase too.

A piece of in-store marketing that blew me away recently was on a visit to a German sports shop that had installed an artificial lake. This allows people to test anything from a diving suit to a pair of swimming trunks. It also included a hiking trail and a climbing wall. This really demonstrates experiential marketing and an understanding of the reasons behind why people do outdoor activity.

PL: More retailers and competitors are integrating their social media into PoP, such as QR codes, Facebook and Twitter with accompanying competitions and incentives. Tesco created a PoP wall in South Korea where customers could purchase groceries by scanning product images with a smartphone. Ocado tested a similar concept in London. I have also been impressed by the take-off of apps and tablets this year and am interested to see how brands will integrate this into the marketing mix.

MW: How important are seasonal campaigns such as at Christmas?

NW: We see spikes throughout the year, often as a result of product launches or specific promotions. However, Christmas always marks a busy time for pay as you go sales. We’ll always look to create bespoke campaigns to engage the seasonal shopper.

AL: The run-up to Christmas isn’t as important to the travel industry because customers are more focused on sorting out their presents than booking a holiday. Therefore, we focus all our efforts on launching inspiring, enticing in-store campaigns that will drive footfall into our shops after the festivities when people are looking for a break in the sun.

CH: Summer and winter seasons are both crucial. In the summer, we sell a lot of sandals and a lot of boots in the winter. A large proportion of our big sellers are sold as hanging products. So in summer, our PoP has a better presence in-store with hanging walls and bright colours.

SS: Most of the retailers tie up with the big boys in the drinks category over the Christmas period. In the UK, we won’t be able to compete with the big brands in-store. Big drinks brands will spend an absolute fortune and that’s the challenge for a smaller portfolio because over-investment in promotional material erodes your margins.

JW: You can point to key calendar events as being important to retailers and the time when they do some lovely in-store stuff. The dressing of the retail environment becomes secondary and not something I want people to pay too much attention to at Morrisons.

It is almost like being a Premier League referee if people notice the ref, he probably hasn’t done a very good job. Christmas is a very important time for us, though. Our ambition this year is to enhance the shopping experience and make sure that the range of products and the service we offer are at the forefront.

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