The Beauty of In-Store Targeting

This weekend I went to Safeway, and among the random things on my list was Drano (to fix a slow draining shower issue). While my slow draining shower isn't that interesting, what was interesting was the Catalina coupon delivered to me upon check out. Now, in addition to you folks, Roto Rooter also knows that I had a drainage issue and are offering me $25 off there services. Is this wildly innovative? no just smart.

In the online world, there is constant banter around behavioural targeting and contextual targeting. Both these methods of "finding consumers" are very smart. However, thinking about an offline application of these same principles, the store provides interesting possibilities as well. Like everything else in marketing, this will only work for a finite number of products or services, but the consideration should always be there. Should a salon chain put something on shelf in front of the hair color if they can make a competitive offer? Why not, again messaging and offer will be important, but the fact that Roto Rooter thought to target people in the store buying Drano means that folks are already thinking this way. Very encouraging.

Shopping with All Your Facebook Friends

FacebookWhile I'm waiting for Morgan to get back from Facebook's big advertising event this week in New York, some interesting news has already been released...the addition of a Shopping application which will evolve word of mouth in the online shopping arena. I covered the topic on our company blog shopperculture.com. Read the long version there.

Short Version:
Good - The ability to fire online purchases directly over to your Facebook page may seem weird to non-facebookers. But for those on the site, you understand how much you keep up on peoples' lives via their status and whatever they super-poked you with today. Allowing me to, upon checkout of buying my new Flat screen TV, click a button to instantly show off my new toy to my friends seems really appealing. And as a marketer, I relish the opportunity to have this more authentic way for consumers to brag about their purchase of my brand.

Bad - Challenge could be the online only nature of the app. With a good number of purchases researched online but still bought in the real world, how can this app be expanded to be more inclusive of broader shopping behaviors? Seems like the addition of a "considering" feature could be a useful plus-up. For example, if a user is on bestbuy.com looking at flat screen TVs, maybe they can add categories or specific products to their considerations. For users this could be a useful tool to gather intelligence from a network of friends.

Can't wait to see what else they announce.


Albertsons Surprisingly Digital - Selection '07

Came across this Albertsons program when I was waist deep in Google gadgets trying to see if retailers were using the technology. And apparently one is.
Found a gadget for each of Albertsons "candidates" for a program they are calling "Selection '07" where the different foods are vying for your votes. Cheese, steak, shrimp, pineapple, egg and broccoli are the candidates. And although I don't eat seafood, shrimp is my favorite because he wears a monocle.
Once I voted via the gadget, which also featured recipe ideas for each ingredient, I was whisked off to the Selection 07 site. The site includes a series of funny videos which are housed on Youtube, where Albertsons has its own branded page set up for all the videos in the program. In addition to videos, for each candidate there are more recipes, downloads (the shrimp mask was my favorite, again the monocle kills me), wallpapers, IM icons, etc...
For a retailer to create a program like this says that they are investing in their brand and creating a personality that shoppers/consumers can connect with. As manufacturers and agencies, we need to recognize these personalities and determine how we can create programs to complement those efforts.


Retail, Brand, Media Partnerships can be great...

...when done this well. Halo 3 (Microsoft), 7-11, AOL and Mountain Dew (Pepsico) came together to create a beautiful program. (Can't imagine the logistics for approvals on this one). Further, my favorite part is that I was first exposed at retail. (Pump topper at 7-11)

And yes, while they are hawking Game Fuel Slurpees, they certainly aren't going to start selling $70 video games at 7-11. So for Halo 3, who has the majority of the real estate, this is "c-store as a medium". They are getting millions of brand impressions in a environment appropriate for their target, made even more relevant when tied to the Game Fuel Slurpee product.

According to 2006 MRI data, almost 3 million men 18-34 visit 7-11 at least 4x a month. Another 529,000 male teens do the same.

Even better, is the fact that they're not just hawking slurpees...there's a promotion at Slurpee.com.

There are actually few promotional items.
1. Chance to voice a character in the next release of Halo, Halo Wars.
2. Collect "virtual straws" by doing differnt things on the site (games, tell-a-friend, etc...) which can be redeemed for smaller rewards.
3. Download a BOGO coupon to drive back to retail for Slupees.

Overall, this is just a well rounded promotional partnership between relevant brands, delivering something of value to consumers.


Stouffer's Dinner Club

I read about the Stouffer’s Dinner Club promo in Promo Magazine this weekend. In a nutshell, Stouffer’s is doing a nice twist on the traditional points system promotion by adding an auction aspect to it. Basically get 100 points for registering, 20 points for each code entered off a pack and some additional points for filling out surveys (great way to entice more consumer info out of folks and make them feel good about it).

So I went online, registered and then found myself at the store a day later. And what do you know; Stouffer's were on special, “buy 6 for $12 dollars”. What a deal!!! Plus, that’s another 120 points in the Stouffer’s Dinner Club. So I bought six and upon check out received this!

Not only did the lovely Catalina coupon drive back to the site to enter points, it further rewarded me with an additional $2.00 off next time. Now, whether I will leave it on my desk or actually remember to bring it to the store, I don’t know. But I certainly am feeling pretty good about my friends at Stouffers right now.

Shopper Culture Blog

If you haven't seen it on Craig's Blog or Sean's Blog, you're seeing it here. We have started a Shopper Culture blog which if you read this blog, you should check out immediately. As it says in the logo... its "a global discussion about the impact of shopper culture on brand strategy".

So please go read, bookmark and comment, as our intention is creating discussion.


Instant Consumer Segmentation

I’m straying a little outside the store on this one into Morgan's territory, but its still retail related...
So I was on smartsource.com checking out who is utilizing the world of online coupons and ran across something interesting. Instant self-reported segmentation. Instead of the usual "click here" for your coupon, you "clicked here" to reveal your savings, after answering 2 questions.

So I clicked. I was presented with a frequency of purchase question as well as a usage question. As I have never bought Greased Lightning before I answered never for purchase frequency and Kitchen for my “toughest cleaning area”. And POOF, much to my delight, my coupon value was upgraded from 55 cents to $1.25 off.
In a world where not every product needs or gets a big promo site with drives for registration, this is a great approach to be smarter about coupon distribution.


Consumers Sip, Rather than Gulp, Green Kool-Aid

Interesting article found today on Marketing VOX regarding the world of Green and how much consumers actually care. Based on a new Yankelovich study, the article points out that despite a glut of media coverage, a relatively small percentage of consumers are really passionate about being Green.

Yankelovich illustrates the degree to which all consumers - from “Green-less” to “Green-Enthusiasts” - are likely to buy a product based on its green features:

  • Green-less (29%) Unmoved by environmental issues and alarms
  • Green-bits (19%) Don’t care but doing a few things
  • Green-steps (25%) Aware, concerned taking steps
  • Green-speaks (15%) Talk the talk more than walk the walk
  • Green-thusiasts (13%) Environment is a passionate concern

While the largest percentage of Americans are “unmoved”, those “passionate” can still be a valuable niche. At 30 million strong they are nothing to snicker at, they simply should not be viewed as a mass audience.

Further, this is, to a large degree, a corporation driven movement based on good PR, and the reality is that as “organizations are required to meet strict federal and state environmental regulations - often at huge expense - it makes sense to try and leverage “new and improved” green product to consumers.

As more marketers are finding Green is not just the color of money anymore, it'll be interesting to see which campaigns hit on the right message for the right audience and which just throw it out to the masses falling mostly on deaf ears?



It looks so cool in all caps with periods and stuff huh... Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric. Did the acronym just work out that well? But I digress...

As a part of the consortium (another fun word), I can't really talk about the details of what's going on. However, I did want to comment on the experience overall. Its a massive undertaking from a logistics standpoint alone. Its interesting how much pure thinking and pre-planning needs to go into setting this thing up; test design, coding, metrics, outputs, etc... Its amazing to see how many research, agency, brand and retail people it takes to screw in a light bulb.

My biggest thought is that technology feels like a double edge sword here. While it facilitates the process immensely, it also creates the assumption that this thing should be perfect. Think back to TV; it was first measured with a small sample of households self-reporting their viewing habits into a diary. Hell, diaries are still used in many markets. We (retail folks) are a victim of post internet metrics. The web was so trackable, we measured everything to the point where most of the metrics were useless.

The hope with this is to find a nice middle ground of useful metrics for planning and auditing purposes, while also maintaining accuracy beyond counting on someone to tell me they think they watched Law & Order last night on NBC but they can't remember which permutation.

Either way, its very cool to be a part of the beginning of something this big. One day, when my grandchildren tell me they generated 2 unduplicated impressions in the produce section of Safeway, I'll be able to say that I was a part of that.

Have a Good 4th everyone!

I Love a Good Conspiracy

I found this article posted on MSN Health... 10 Things Your Grocery Store Doesn't Want You to Know. While the more health-based points I don't mind, (yes, shockingly grocery stores are dirty) its "the man is trying to control you" type points that annoy me.

Marketers influence so many of peoples' experiences at this point, it seems redundant to point out. Has the general public not have noticed that... no sporting event goes un-sponsored, arenas are re-named by mutual funds, popcorn bags in movies theaters have ads, your trip to the bar bathroom is sponsored by a cab company, people on TV only drink beers with labels facing the camera, etc.

For those that haven't figured out that marketers control their lives, we do.

That's all for today...


Common Sense from Scott...

As marketers we all may sometimes fall victim to overthinking things sometimes. So, on occasion, tts nice to see a simple promotion for a simple category.

Introducing Scott's Common Sense promotion. Check it out here.

Premise: See in-store materials or FSI, go to website, submit a tip that your mother told you, have a chance to win $25,000. I discovered the promo in-store on a Smartsource Banner. (I've been behind on my coupon clipping and missed the FSI which dropped mid May).

Once at the website, consumers are greeted with perfectly expected experience. The site is full of polls, tips, community, submit a tip and win, etc... Navigation is intuitive and feels like the other sites that their consumers are probably used to. Color palette is soft and soothing (2 good things to associate with toliet paper). Overall, this is easy.

I played on the site a bit, and then was pleasantly (as a marketer), surprise when I left. After closing the site, I was served a little pop up.

"hey, you interested in filling out a survey", said the little pop-up. "you could win $250".

See, when submitting tips for the sweepstakes, they asked for bear minimum information. They simply want to drive participation. Then for those interested, when served the pop-up, you can fill out a rather extensive survey which asked all kinds of demo, brand and category questions. A treasure trove of data for a little re-marketing later.

Now, I'm not sure what Morgan's take will be on this, he's the online guy. But as a retail to web promotion, this worked for me. Easy to understand in-store proposition drove to a web experience that was comfortable and easy. While not every brand should do comfortable and easy, its exactly what I want from my toliet paper.

Excited yet Conflicted about the Future of Retail

The more I read and hear, the more I wonder where Retail Marketing is going. PRISM hopes to simplify the media aspects of it, while Retailers are also becoming more demanding in Customer Specific concerns as well as now Customer/Shopper specific efforts.

WARNING: This a long one, but worth it for those whose bread is buttered in this arena.

I was reading a fantastically interesting article in the Hub about shopper marketing which got me thinking about the myriad of forces at work on retail marketing. The article written by Chris Hoyt and Gail Peterson of Hoyt and Associates basically outlines the shift by retailers to better shopper segmentation and what in means to anyone selling goods at retail. Check it out here.

The net net is that retailers are now aiming to better serve their shoppers by customizing stores (product selection, layout, etc...). The hope of the more shopper relevant store is, as always increase sales, but also increase loyalty.

"This store understands me" seems to be the general response we are looking for here.

I love this, its smart, makes complete sense, but in everyway complicates what we as an agency are going to be tasked with in the future. Try customer specific programming across a clients top 10 retailers and you can go a little nuts. But now, its going to grow geometrically as each customer specifc program will have 4 - 8 "shopper specific" twists.

Again, I love this, it will only lead to more targeted programming which hopefully means more effective and successful work. I just think we made need a few more folks on the home team.

My conflict comes as I have the pleasure of working with the PRISM folks on the development of that fantastic tool. As stores differentiate further, what does this mean for uniform measurement and planning. I would argue the measurement factor can remain less affected as "eyeballs are eyeballs" in the world of media measurement. An impression in prime time TV is added on top of an impression in Time Magazine and then added again to a Yahoo impression is terms of overall plan delivery.

Yes, the levels of engagement are different, but that's a separate consideration as a part of the planning process. But as far as Neilsen is concern, they are measuring "opportunity to see"; eyeballs are eyeballs. (Its the same song for TV, Print and everything else measured)

So, this leads me to the part which is affected by all this retailer specific mumbo jumbo; planning retail programs. While thanks to PRISM we will know how many people will see our in-store pieces, how to interupt and engage will become a more important artform.
This is very exciting. Encouragement on the part of retailers for more specific programs around the "kind of shopper" that is in a particular store provides an opportunity to start testing the limits of in-store creative. How do we take a once simple promotional tool and update and inspire it to be more. What kind of creaive measurement do we establish to test what works where and for whom? I could tell you my thoughts, but I'd have to charge you.

While its a somewhat confusing time...
unform measurement vs. store specific segmentation,
clean store policies vs. a growing retail media landscape,
Retailer Brands vs. CPG Brands vs. Consumers vs. Shoppers.

...its an exciting time. Its exciting because conversations are being had that weren't had before. Positions, departments and companies are being created to address all the colors of the retail rainbow. Legitimacy is around the corner, if not here already. Now we just need more hands on deck.

Thanks for playing... I'll make my next entry shorter I promise!


In-store Digital Video is a mess...

Really? Is about the only way I can address this situation.
Here is my view of the in-store video landscape to date:

Wal-mart TV (PRN) - Just sent me a very nice letter basically saying "oops, we may have jumped the gun". They are going to conduct a small pilot to work out kinks that even I could have predicted and will run somewhere from 6 months to a year behind on roll out. So much for my 2008 plans. However, I will applaud their efforts to get it right rather than just moving forward collecting $$$s but ultimately doing a disservice to in-store media. So thanks for your diligence.

SignStorey - Used to be my number 3 choice in in-store video, but rapidly moving up. Just ate up Captive Audience, to add ShopRite and Big Y stores into their network. Also, SuperValu (the back bone of SignStorey's network) gave an impressive little display at the In-Store Marketing Conference last week in Chicago. Along with technology partner DS-IQ, they are paralleling video logs of ads, with sales data to provide a better idea of effectiveness of the video product. Very Interesting.

IBN - Not even sure where these guys went with PerfectMedia. I liked the idea, but the roll out in all Kroger stores just never seemed to happen. Oh well, there's always in-store radio...

NewsAmerica - Often labeled "the dinosaur" by their high tech competitors, NAM is going a different route. Saving money on NOT buying hundreds/thousands of 42" plasmas, they created a simple at shelf video option which can be placed directly in front of product. No, its not a fancy "Internet Protocol Driven Vertically Oriented LCD Magic Carpet Ride" type of offering but it does do a few things the others don't.
1. Brings video down to the consumers level. (this has long be an argument from the anti-in-store video front, if such a thing exists)
2. Also, its user initiated. Instead of pushing our pre-determined mix of messaging we assume shoppers want out on big screens, it simply invites shoppers to push the magic button if they want to learn more.

I'm not sure where this is all going to net out...that's kind of why its annoying. We plan a year in advance, and I can't predict who'll actually have things where they're supposed to be. But its entertaining to watch and I hope someone gets it right. The opportunity for richer in-store messaging would be welcomed by most brands, but it can't be a turn off to shoppers and I would love a little measurement as well.

That's all for today.

Sustainability, bla bla bla, I know

But…even though I am admittedly not a recycler, hybrid driver or green in pretty much any way, I see that this is the future of business. My favorite approach to sustainability is, as always, Wal-Mart’s.

They aren’t viewing it as tree hugging, hippie-esque efforts to save the Earth, that’s just a secondary benefit. (Of course this isn’t what the press release to the general public says) More efficient uses of materials, means less waste which reduces costs. More efficient designs of packaging and POS means less trucks which means lower distribution costs. (oh yeah and less pollution, isn’t that nice) And while I may appreciate their commitment to the bottom line probably more than most, its raises an interesting point. This is seemingly a way to make Wal-Mart happy.

We rack our brains constantly trying to figure out ways to create programs that will get Wal-Mart jazzed. However, apparently, if we just size a PDQ just right so it holds three more bars of soap and they can use 60 less trucks to get them to market, that’s a win. If we create pallets that stack a little better, little more efficiently into a truck, that’s a win.

Consolidation, both Natural and Not

In an unlikely intermingling of channels/retailers over the past few months there were some strange developments between Wild Oats, Pathmark, A&P and Whole Foods. The quickest way I can break it down is like this:

- December 06: Pathmark announces it will start carrying Wild Oats private label brands in their stores
- March 07: A&P announces buy out of Pathmark
- March 07: Whole Foods to buy out Wild Oats
- March 07: Whole Foods states that it is unlikely that the Pathmark/Wild Oats private label partnership will continue

I only write about this because I found the entire thing very odd, yet captivating. As the world of retail is consolidating, the competition is tremendous. Traditional grocers are partnering to carry “natural private label” to expand their offering; smaller chains are expanding through acquisition to increase their weight in the marketplace; while others are simply eliminating the competition through buyouts. That’s a lot of activity in a short time in the retail world.
Unfortunately for me, the natural channel is not a very retail media friendly environment, so Whole Foods getting bigger isn’t really good news. As for A&P and Pathmark, last time I check neither popped really high on the radar as a top customer for any of my clients. But thought it was interesting none the less.

Retail to Web Made Easy?

Per my last 2 posts, we can see there is obviously a growing amount of retail to web communication going on in-store. And now, as released last week, Catalina and ePrize are taking it to the next level. Through a strategic partnership, they are coming to market with all-in-one solutions for these programs. Catalina has vast data (which I love) on who buys what, how often and where, a treasure trove of shopper nuggets. ePrize has 101 templatized ways to create and online promotion quick and easy. Together they bring rich targeting capabilities at retail on the front end with strong engagement tools and data capture potential on the backend. And while it may not all be done in one phone call, it’ll be pretty turnkey. Check out the current Dole Salad/Yahoo Music/Elliot Yamin (former American Idoler) promo. (and yes, the song sucks, but that's not the point) Another solution this provides is for the constant problem of unique codes on package which take months of planning to execute due to production timelines. Now you can simply have Catalina trigger an ad when a shopper buys your product and they can be given a unique code which can tell what SKU was purchased and at what retailer. Great info to have as soon as they go online and enter it. The executional fixes and promotional opportunities are all still to be fully explored, but its exciting/scary.


Everybody Likes a Pizza Party

Its true...and Schwan Foods is counting on it driving traffic to their web promotion from retail. Using their entire portfolio of frozen pizza brands (Freschetta, Red Baron and Tony’s), they are driving traffic to pizzapartypro.com for the chance to win the “ultimate party” including a party planner, day spa treatment, party day attire, digital camera and a flat panel hdtv.

They had three placements in the frozen aisle including a floorgraphic in front of the Red Baron pizza along with a shelftalk, then further down the aisle was another shelftalk in front of the Freshetta. While the “Party Like a Pro” sweeps was carried through all, the individual placements also maintain the equity of each brand.

The site itself is really really basic; a couple party tips, sweeps info and an entry mechanism. The engagement online could have certainly been more compelling, but the traffic driving vehicles in-store showed a commitment to store as a medium. The fact that they invested in 3 placements and had absolutely no sell messaging, but instead simply used retail as a medium to drive awareness of their online promotion is impressive.


Healthy Choice - Retail to Web

Since we all sit around talking about in-store as a medium, not a sales tool, it’s nice to see it used for something other than simply trying to drive sales lift. Healthy Choice currently is running an interesting in-store drive to web promotion. The main window of the shelftalk pushes the current promotion “START MAKING CHOICES” which drives you to web to “get your personalized health and wellness tools at healthychoice.com.”

Beyond that, the outer extension is pushing other portfolio products, namely their Healthy Choice soups. Obviously their frozen offering is their marquee product… so they are harnessing their equity there to drive awareness of other extensions as well as create an online experience. This is in-store as a medium; its driving awareness as well as push to web. Oh, and to date, the website currently boasts over 35,000 people who have signed up to "START MAKING CHOICES"!

Macro Trends + In-store Trends = New Opportunity?

With our Trends and Technology conference still recent in memory, and a lot of 2006 recaps/2007 predicitions for in-store in the press, my brain spit out an interesting dicussion... Does Storytelling and the rise of digital signage in-store create a new forum for brand engagement. (Also, do shoppers want it)

"In-Store TV is Hot
Target launched "Channel Red" in its entertainment departments, Kroger discussed its "Perfect Media" plans for integrated TV-radio networks, and Meijer went live with a chain-wide network...Wal-Mart best exemplified the issues surrounding in-store media...by placing monitors in aisles and on endcaps"
- In-store Marketer 2006 trend recap...

Also, more recently it was announced...

"Two divergent players in the world of in-store advertising are teaming up for a test that would surround shoppers with an ambient, multimedia advertising and marketing experience. The test, which will rollout in a sample of supermarkets owned by The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., will combine the place-based programming of InStore Broadcasting Network (IBN) with personalized shopping media developed by Cuesol.

During the Stop & Shop tests, IBN will deliver synchronized advertising messages via its audio and video platforms in the store, which will be combined and integrated with Cuesol's technology, a high-tech shopping cart equipped with a digital personal shopping assistant dubbed the "Shopping Buddy."
- MediaPost 2/6/07

These applications in-store allow us to provide more in depth brand experiences to shoppers. Do shoppers want them? I don't know, we'll have to ask. If we push a bunch of complicated messaging at people, I'm guessing they won't be happy. But if user initiated content can be served up to shoppers to bring them further into our brands, how valuable is that? What does this mean in a world where we have espoused the notion that we have 3 seconds to seal the deal or shoppers will be lost.

Anytime we have a challenge to our conventional thinking, I smell opportunity. It may be an opportunity to fall flat on our faces, but opportunty none the less.

Storytelling: Consumers want to hear our story and share their own...
Technology: Shoppers can have an interactive, audio visual in-store experience...
The intersection of these two concepts has to mean something. I'm curious to see what.

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