Consumers First Aware of New Products at the Shelf

May 07, 2010

Push those soap operas and prime-time TV shows aside.

Push those soap operas and prime-time TV shows aside. That is today’s directional thinking of CPG manufacturers using more new-media to support their launch of new products. Prominent in their thoughts is the retail store itself, simply because that is where sales occur and where the influence of messages, however fleeting, could have great impact on purchase decision making.

Brand marketers didn’t always feel this way. Data was sparse to justify the use of in-store media. But that’s changing, as is the evolving art and science of in-store marketing and shopper marketing.  Dedicated CPG teams collaborate with key retailers on programs that help shape shopper decisions, from the moment they recognize a need to the moment they buy products and pass them through the checklane.

Think of the store as the new channel tuner where consumers first see newly launched products. Indeed, the store fills that function for the majority of consumers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy, according to Nielsen Bases research. “The store beat TV as an awareness driver by a 50% to 36% margin in 2008” (the most recent figures available) vs. a bare 52% to 48% margin four years earlier. And the margin is even wider among heavy category buyers (three times likelier than average to buy a product), by a 55% to 35% spread, noted Ad Age in its account of the Bases data.

Where in the store are new products seen most? In 71% of instances where people cited the store, they simply saw new products on the category shelf. By comparison, off-shelf displays, retailer circulars, product demonstrations, in-store media and samples drove awareness between 2% and 18% of the time, Ad Age reported. 

Well, if CPG wasn’t nervous before about SKU rationalization, they ought to be with these findings known, feels The Lempert Report. The lesson here is to be seen within the home category from the start, rather than rely on the secondary awareness vehicles that are part of so many trade events, and that add so much complexity to store operations.

These findings may be an outcome of shopper numbness to so many in-store stimuli, as well as shoppers’ intense focus on categories populating their necessities lists. Specific reasons aside, it is clearer now that for new products there is no place like home (as in their home category).