Few brands nowadays focus solely on promoting the functions of their products in their advertising. Today, it is all about developing a connection with consumers. Just look at the use of emotive music in TV advertising – from Halfords’ spring 2014 campaign featuring Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf to Unilever’s use of the Backstreet Boys’ As Long As You Love Me to promote Lynx Peace shower gel – along with powerful imagery (just think Mercedes) or celebrity endorsement.
However, the final purchase decision is taken at a point where the emotional connection can be achieved through consumers being able to physically see and touch the product. Essentially, effective brand delivery within retail outlets plays a fundamentally important, although sometimes forgotten, role in the decision-making process.
Brand delivery is a complex, multifaceted activity and in a highly competitive buyers’ market, getting it right is no longer a nice-to-have but an essential driver for building brand equity and securing retail sales success. But do you have a true understanding of how your brand is being handled and delivered in the retail environment?
In a hugely crowded high street, in-store promotional displays remain the key mechanism for getting your brand front and centre in the eyes of the consumer – brand owners will not need reminding of the ever-increasing slice of the marketing budget required to secure simple gondola-end or temporary display unit space.
On average, point of purchase (POP) campaigns, where no third-party installation company is engaged, achieve little more than 60 per cent compliance. That means that of all the promotional products created – often supported by expensive online and offline advertising, special packaging and investment in POP display units – only six out of 10 ever make it to their intended spot on the shop floor.
That is the equivalent of buying 100 minutes of airtime and allowing 40 of those minutes to be filled with nothing but static, or worse, a competing product.
It is a terrible figure that shows the importance of planning and control at every step of the campaign process – from the initial idea to placing the product on the shop floor.
Some products can realise over half of their total lifetime sales well within their first week of trading. Achieving only 60 per cent compliance in a scenario such as this would have catastrophic results on total volume sales.
Display units being refused entry into the store, lost or mistakenly thrown away in the retailer’s warehouse or built to the wrong specification, along with merchandise not being available at the right time, are just a few examples of where things can go wrong.
The best practice is to have every element of the promotional display centrally delivered so the whole solution can be ‘walked’ into the store, alleviating a great many of these potential pitfalls. But this is by no means the whole story.
It is often said it is the last 50 yards that count: getting the product from the entrance to the store on to the shelf, as briefed by the client.
But if you genuinely want to achieve a far higher compliance level and deliver the project in a more efficient and cost effective manner, then greater thought needs to be given to issues outside the final stretch.
The cause of a considerable proportion of reduced compliance and expense across the wider industry can only be pre-empted by consideration much earlier in the planning process.
A well thought-through in-store marketing campaign should engage POP and point of sale (POS) display installers and merchandisers at the start of the planning process.
This is particularly important for brands as, apart from the retailers themselves, POP/POS specialists know the retail estate better than anyone.
A POP campaign project brief will usually follow a six-step format:
- Design: At this stage, a POP installation specialist can advise on aspects such as optimum stand size for transportation and installation efficiencies and even undertake a retail estate survey to maximise penetration without compromising campaign integrity. For example, making the stand 20cm narrower might allow three units to be transported in one vehicle rather than just one.
- Prototype: Request a POP specialist assessment to ensure it meets retailer guidelines, assess the training needs, consider maintenance requirements and review potential security issues.
- Manufacture/print: Seek advice on palletisation, delivery schedules, onsite assembly concerns and so on.
- Implementation: Programme scheduling, field-team training, in-store implementation and ongoing maintenance and re-merchandising.
- Live monitoring: Planning and control is fundamental to every marketing campaign. Reporting on every step of the campaign, including photographic evidence from every store, will ensure you maintain control of your plan – and your product. Insist on a real-time portal that clearly shows that your provider is achieving the compliance levels you expect.
- Campaign review: Crunch the numbers and assess the success. Your final task in the campaign can be made a lot easier, and more effective, when your POP specialist can provide the data you need – and can even attend your meeting to support your presentation.
Planning, implementation and control are the fundamentals of marketing and key to your success in any POP/POS campaign.
Yet maintenance of a display is also critical. Visiting the technology aisle at a major retailer recently, I spotted a large mobile manufacturer’s POP display. Out of 26 mobile products that had clearly defined spaces on the stand 11 were missing. That is more than one-third of that brand’s offering.
Presumably the brand’s marketing team had carefully devised a range of products to suit each segment of the phone-buying market. Unfortunately, one-third of that market will have stepped across to the next display to consider their options there.
The six stages outlined should be extended to include a maintenance stage, ensuring your efforts are rewarded and continue to be so by maximising the lifetime of POP and on-shelf promotions.
Control is key to any campaign, and not just to the first, more glamorous part.