CPG, retail aim to be ‘hip’ partners with shoppers

Articles
March 04, 2009

CPG, retail aim to be ‘hip’ partners with shoppers

So tight is the consumer-to-cell phone relationship that CPG and retailers want to insinuate into it, be on America’s hips, and be in position to repeatedly entice people through content/offers/coupons to shop for their brands or in their stores. We’re still in the very early stages of learning how consumers might respond to messages from brands and retailers on their phones. Intrusive? Privacy threatening? Valuable? Timely? Perhaps the answer will be all of the above—with individual reactions that vary with how messages are served up, whether people are shopping at the time, or have any interest in a specific brand, or other factors. People will likely react very differently to brand and store information that they search for on the Web, using their cell phones, PDAs or similar hand-held devices. A handful of pioneer programs could turn up directional insights into optimal ways to leverage consumer dependence on these portable, personal devices. Some 40 million people currently access the Internet on phones, twice the number of 2006, according to Nielsen Mobile. That’s only 16% of people with cell phones who go online with them, and those that do visit six sites a month on average versus 100 on their computers, reported the New York Times.

So tight is the consumer-to-cell phone relationship that CPG and retailers want to insinuate into it, be on America’s hips, and be in position to repeatedly entice people through content/offers/coupons to shop for their brands or in their stores.

We’re still in the very early stages of learning how consumers might respond to messages from brands and retailers on their phones. Intrusive? Privacy threatening? Valuable? Timely? Perhaps the answer will be all of the above—with individual reactions that vary with how messages are served up, whether people are shopping at the time, or have any interest in a specific brand, or other factors.

People will likely react very differently to brand and store information that they search for on the Web, using their cell phones, PDAs or similar hand-held devices. A handful of pioneer programs could turn up directional insights into optimal ways to leverage consumer dependence on these portable, personal devices.

Some 40 million people currently access the Internet on phones, twice the number of 2006, according to Nielsen Mobile. That’s only 16% of people with cell phones who go online with them, and those that do visit six sites a month on average versus 100 on their computers, reported the New York Times.

Still, plenty of people kick butt on their cell phone buttons—and this can open doors to timely information, savings and conveniences, which old-school brick-and-mortar shoppers can’t easily obtain.

A few ongoing programs, for example: Kraft software for an Apple iPhone application, the iFood Assistant, helps people find recipes, build shopping lists and consider dinner suggestions.  Coupons.com claims that its Grocery IQ shopping list builder, with more than 130,000 items in it, is the top-selling lifestyle application in the Apple iPhone store. The Kroger-Cellfire program with CPG leaders, including Kimberly-Clark, links a mobile application to a user’s grocery savings card and a retailer’s point-of-sale system to apply discounts automatically at checkout.

“They grew up with a mouse in one hand and a phone in the other,” Laura Keely, director of consumer promotions at Kimberly-Clark, said to the Wall Street Journal about the younger audience it aims to reach.

A harbinger of this movement was the 2005 “Go Shop!” program at The Container Store. In its Manhattan location at the time, customers could register a credit card at the front counter, and be given a hand-held PDA to peruse the store. They scanned items they liked as they came across them. When done shopping, they’d leave the store. For a $15 fee, they’d have same-day delivery anywhere in the city.

The program also allowed a college student living in Kansas City, for instance, to shop for her dorm room and have goods delivered upon arrival at school.

As SupermarketGuru.com sees this trend, one hoped-for retail outcome is to deliver consumers a sense of control and in-store satisfaction that will make repeat visits likelier to the store. For CPG, we believe, it’s about intimacy, privilege and insights that help lead people to more intelligent and appropriate brand purchase decisions.