Retailers still need better brand communication
While recent developments in retailing have helped make retail shopping more informative, more interactive, more logical, and more enjoyable, the overall shopping experience still depends to a large degree on the shopper's intentions, according to Chris Carter of UK-based marketing agency, SMP.
With up to 70% of brand purchase decisions taking place in-store, and with research indicating that 25% of retail shoppers are buying items they haven't initially planned to purchase, the advantage of prominent in-store branding is clear. However, an optimal in-store environment demands satisfaction for all the stakeholders involved: the consumer, the retailer, and the brand owner.
From the consumer's point of view, the foundation for an ideal retail environment lies in a clear understanding of how the consumer wants to shop in the category, because understanding the consumer journey and the broader context of their purchases can help retailers to create a more logical and convenient approach. For example, if a consumer wants to buy a television, then a step-by-step approach that helps them understand the available technologies, placement options, accessories, peripherals, warranty options, and payment methods should be laid out clearly in-store, providing an opportunity to surprise and even delight customers who often expect less-than-helpful 'shelf talkers'.
This step-by-step aid to buying must enhance the customers 'shopping journey' without being confusing or being needlessly cluttered. Consumer journey tracking techniques, in which the consumer is observed at a macro and/or micro level, can help retailers understand and provide the best solution: one which works as both a category enticer as well as an up-selling and educational prompt.
From the retailer's perspective, the overriding objective is to maximise return on retail space. How this can be achieved will depend upon the role the category plays for the chain, and the degree of creativity involved will depend on the retailer's policies regarding in-store attractors, the role the category is playing (e.g. a high margin image enhancer category would merit a more creative display), and the degree to which creative presentation has been proved to drive sales.
From the brand's perspective, the objective is to demonstrate retail partnership that drives category growth. A sound strategic understanding of the category's consumers, built upon qualitative and quantitative research that can steer product presentation, is what most retailers crave. By overlaying this data onto the retailer's own consumer profiling data and category sales history, the retailer can create a compelling display that occupies the right position in-store, attracts attention, presents the most appropriate product range for the store's shoppers, and communicates relevant benefits to drive positive purchase decisions.
The key, according to Zest, is to develop an investment matrix based on an assessment of the retailer's store portfolio against pre-determined criteria, including existing sales data, forecast data (for each store and its catchment area), store profiles, consumer profiles, footfall data, and placement opportunities.
This information can then be cross-referenced with the role that in-store presence plays for each brand. For example: Is this a product for which purchase decisions are usually made in-store, or is a pre-determined purchase decision made outside of the store? Does the category lack excitement, and will added excitement increase sales?
Couple this approach with a creative brand display and a complementary pack design that embodies the core values of the brand while also delivering all the necessary information, and the retailer can deliver a truly compelling brand experience.