Thanks to technological advancements, customers can now research brands before entering stores. With this weapon in hand, they can compare different brands, check their reviews and other additional features. All these activities are performed with the aim, that, by the time a customer enters the store, they are armed with more information than before.
The battleground for brands on the supermarket shelf. It is the place where customers make crucial decisions. Therefore, when discussing in-store brand visibility, the essential key for brands is to employ full control over the shelf space, to meet the expectations of the customers. But what exactly is in-store brand visibility and why does it matter?
Brand visibility is the extent to which consumers can recognize or remember a particular brand. Nowadays, shoppers browse products on their mobile devices. They go through its price, features, reviews, and so on. But ultimately, the decision is taken in-store, a place where they are confronted with a myriad of options.
It is not always important, that the customer will buy products from the same brand. The reason being, if another product "jumps out" at the moment, he/she is likely to change their preference.
The following pointers highlight why in-store brand visibility is important.
1. A product launch doesn’t guarantee its sale
The failure rate of a new product is always high. Brand failure or brand success, both depend on the brand-customer bond, brand image, and positioning in the market. These bonds once established, creates an emotional connection between the brand and consumer, and also form the customer's perception of the brand. Brands are indeed important, but neglecting the consumer's need or failing to provide them a positive user experience, as a result of inefficient marketing support leads to a lack of thoughtful placement and brand promotion.
Understand this through the example of Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart, the American multinational retail corporation, operates the chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores. It was founded in 1962, with its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, U.S. Due to its low price, convenience, and monopoly, Wal-Mart became successful in the United States. This made the company expand its branches in other countries, but was unable to replicate its original success in some places, the root problem being, lack of fine-tuning in the shopping experience depending on the local culture of the place. For example, in South Korea, the company failed to understand the local preferences of people for buying small packages at local stores. Similarly, in Germany, they attempted to apply their proven US success formula in an unmodified manner, and through the process, they failed to offer German customers any compelling value proposition in comparison with its local competitors. In Japan, the company bought a share in the Seiyu company, in an attempt to apply its strategies in the Japanese market. However, it was pointed out that these marketing strategies do not work the same for the people in Japan because customers often associate low prices with cheap quality, making them wary about shopping there.
2. Brand loyalty does exist, but name recognition is not as important as brand interaction
With the addition of store-brand white labels, along with other brands, it becomes overwhelming for customers to make a choice based on loyalty. When there are numerous brands, the process of purchasing becomes an intuitive one. This process is influenced by brand awareness and the purchase pattern of the customer. A survey showed that 85% of the time, a customer prefers to remain within his normal realm of activity. If he is not able to make a decision quickly, he is most likely to skip the whole category for the time being.
3. Price consistency
Before making a purchase, customers spend time researching the product. They see the product's price and compare it with the one in the store. Having the brand's product incorrectly placed during key shopping times kills in-stores sales opportunities. Even if marketers spend their time analyzing the price of their products in comparison with their competitors, all their work will go out of the window, if they do not implement in-store.
So, how can we increase in-store brand visibility?
1) Running a promotion
A consumer's behavior isn't a result of aggressive product development or having a flexible price, it depends on customer engagement. To enable long-term conversations with customers, improved customer engagement is an important task. A positive customer experience promotes loyalty, helps in retaining customers, and encourages brand advocacy.
Consider the case of Blue Diamond. It is an example of one of those brands which used social media to increase in-store brand visibility and drive brand awareness with their consumers and retail partners. In the contest, shoppers went through a store scavenger hunt to locate the new Nut - Thins product took a selfie with the box, and posted it to social media with the hashtag #NutThinsContest for a chance to win $1,000. This contest also leveraged the company's partnership with retail partners such as Target, Kroger, Safeway, Food Lion. The campaign proved to be hugely successful with 72.3MM brand impressions and 9,000 purchases.
2) Achieving optimal shelf placement
Placement strategy matters. Planning a location convenient to an entrance, exit, aisle intersection, or checkout can maximize a brand’s store footprint.
Represent the environment
test shoppers must be met with a true-to-life shopping scenario. To get a read on how customers will react to various shelf placements, you have to get them in front of each of them—and the more realistic the retail experience is, the more realistic the shopper behaviors are.
Measure what’s happening
Tools used for placement research should include a visual tracking component. The eye-tracking study is important to learn about different shelf concepts. For example, choosing a focal point, a 360degree location that is well-lit and shoppable from all sides. Another trick is to tilt the products by 15degree which is said to improve the product visibility by 27 among the shoppers who are “just browsing”.
Color blocking is another way to achieve optimal shelf placement. This process includes the use of colors to support merchandising of products. this process, makes the displays in a store appear fresher and hence encourages the customer to look through more of the stock. The process also involves arranging multiple bright, bold, solid, seasonal colors to attract the eye of a customer.
3) Investing in real-time inventory management
Real-time inventory management is the system of tracking the movement of products in real-time. This system has many advantages. It prevents shortage in stock, shows current stock at any available time, makes it easier to find goods, and ensures accurate planning. Instead of manually counting your inventory, which has chances of being 15-40% less accurate, using technology can provide a more accurate picture of how customers engage with products on the shelf.
4) Mobile marketing campaign partnership
App-based marketing strategy helps a brand in gaining visibility and encourages product interaction with the customer. According to a report, 56 cents of every dollar, is influenced by digital in some way or other. Keeping this in mind, it makes sense to invest in mobile apps. Brands can increase customer engagement by partnering with a shopping app that offers personalization, rewards, and gamification.
Consider the example of Shopkick. The user begins the purchase journey by browsing in-app content from brands or retailers at home or on the go. This content could be in the form of an informative video, lookbook, etc. After the seed of pre-engagement is laid, customers check which brands are offering “kicks” or rewards. This incentivizes a customer to further move down the path of purchase by visiting the particular store or brand.
In-store, the gamification mechanism drives shopkickers towards particular products on-shelf and encourages physical interaction with it, in exchange for points which they can redeem towards gift cards. This strategy works by helping consumers seek out items that may not have been previously visible to them. In most cases, Shopkickers buy the products for extra rewards, resulting in a favourable impression of the brand that helped them reach their goals.
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