A better way to market in-store

August 19, 2011

Should the trade leapfrog over screen technology to communicate directly with shoppers’ cell phones in stores?

Bloom’s nine-store test of in-store media with major CPG suppliers underscores the importance of reaching shoppers with relevant and persuasive messages at the right moments in their paths to purchase.

Yet it also reminds us of earlier direct experiences with location-based screens that delivered excellent content, had advertiser support, and should have succeeded. Except that maintenance issues killed it. The difficulty of electronics upkeep, along with complexities of placing screens (store operations) throughout stores, cause us to question whether today’s approach can thrive long-term unless these issues are resolved.

The Lempert Report believes there’s a better way to use in-store technology – as triggers to cell phones, smartphones and iPads owned by shoppers and increasingly used on their store trips. Indeed, the BabyCenter 21st Century Mobile Mom Report reveals that two-thirds of U.S. moms (68%) use their smartphones while shopping, and nearly half (46%) say the most convenient time to receive information about a product is when they are in the store. Also, 46% of moms say they have taken action after seeing an ad on their smartphone.

We envision a future in which shoppers walk past, say, a branded beverage display, and on their phone comes a prompt, “Would you like a free coupon for X?” If the shopper presses “yes,” it plays a short video and delivers a mobile coupon to the phone. This is a rudimentary picture of a process that will refine with greater use and insights into individual customers.

These in-store marketing systems should evolve to “learn” the phones and individual customer preferences based on the likes and dislikes people enter. Do they need gluten-free items? Do they tend to buy smaller-size packages? And so on.

In our view, this direct-to-consumer approach would be more cost-efficient to operate and more targeted to individual consumers. Therefore, it would be more effective as it delivers measurable results.