‘Transport’ Shoppers to Solutions

Articles
March 22, 2010

‘Transport’ Shoppers to Solutions

When people go to the movies, they want to escape for two hours or so – and laugh out loud or be thrilled if they’re fortunate enough to see a good film.

When people go to the movies, they want to escape for two hours or so – and laugh out loud or be thrilled if they’re fortunate enough to see a good film.

No such luck in the supermarket – unless one happens to live near Jim Carrey or Matt Damon and catch them in an ad hoc rehearsal by the pasta.

So the news that some movie theaters are upscaling with better food – mango margaritas, blue-cheese potato chips, wine-poached jumbo shrimp or shredded duck tacos, to name a few of the examples reported by USA Today – seems like it could be a winner. After all, people want to be at the theater, in giant chairs with giant images, giant sound…and now giant-quality food in a dinner-movie date setting. 

During a strong box-office year (that tends to happen during recessions), theater operators are bringing many refinements to the classic food-and-movie pairing. This got us to thinking at The Lempert Report how possible it might be to alter the supermarket experience in ways that bring shoppers pleasure and comfort, and stores performance and distinctiveness.

We’ve seen retailers try racetrack formats, different lighting schemes for perimeter service departments, and even drive-thru formats. We’ve seen experiments with aromas, music and other sensory manipulations to attract shoppers, induce them to linger and perhaps focus on specific displays. Have any ‘transported’ shoppers like an IMAX screen could? Doubtful.

Definitely, supermarkets could use some ‘functional creativity’ to go with their role of mission provider – perhaps projected images by the deli of people enjoying outdoor picnics, boat rides or barbecues to stimulate sales of meats, cheeses, wine and more for those occasions. Or projected images by the bakery of children’s birthday parties, or grandma’s milestone birthday, a soldier’s homecoming, or a student’s graduation to inspire large cake orders.  Lead people to think about pleasurable occasions coming up and associating your store with ways to make them better.

Go around the store with similar sensibilities and do-able ideas will come to mind. At the least, they’ll make people feel good – they’ll add some emotion to the shopping trip, and they’ll seed future purchases. Retailers could go one step further, and invite shoppers to submit some of their own photos and videos for display.

These may not be Hollywood quality, but that’s irrelevant. What makes this good is the added warmth, the emotional pick-me-up, and the diversion from plain vanilla shopping that otherwise doesn’t inspire. It’s a more personal twist on in-store marketing, one that could potentially do more to ‘move’ shoppers toward meal and occasion solutions that they might never have noticed before.