Spokescreatures Need to Be Seen

March 24, 2010

Moms love their kids, but they don’t always like them while shopping in the supermarket.

Moms love their kids, but they don’t always like them while shopping in the supermarket. One reason why is that our littlest consumers so often get consumed by the marketing aimed at them – think Tony the Tiger, the M&M’s characters, the Lucky Charms leprechaun, and other captivating spokescreatures.

When the kids see one they recognize, all heck can break loose. And mom’s mission becomes one of control rather than organized purchasing.

At The Lempert Report, we think the effectiveness of spokescreatures is so clear that we are puzzled by something we see in supermarkets everyday. That is, a huge disconnect between merchandising execution on the selling floor (sometimes poor) that severely undermines the purchasing persuasiveness of even the most brilliant advertising and marketing messages.

It’s a fundamental understanding that if the kids can’t see the spokescreatures, none of this works, and carefully crafted campaigns under-perform. Yet an end-aisle display in a New Jersey supermarket we spotted the other day had multiple products aimed at kids – with the most recognizable characters on packages high up, well beyond the sight line of the target audience. This is a common breakdown that better training of shelf-setters could help rectify.

Placement is key – both during trade-event merchandising and in everyday planogram sets. Keep the kid-oriented characters where the kids can see them – on lower shelves if they’re walking, or a bit higher if they’re riding in a cart.  Usually, CPG doesn’t have much of a say in this unless it’s a DSD category such as cookies/crackers, snacks or carbonated soft drinks. But retailers should care too because these spokescreature brands could help fulfill category objectives.

Holistic thinking about the great execution from the start of the supply chain all the way to the selling floor could help stop this process from breaking down at the point of display. It doesn’t have to fall short, if retailers were to give store workers (and any clueless DSD merchandisers) some extra visual guidance on the shelf and display sets that appeal most to moms and kids, and make store workers more sensitive to the importance of the silent spokescreatures.