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Just make me happy

I spent many years working in the grocery industry and whilst it was a few moons ago I’m still passionate about the supermarket experience. Lately I no longer enjoy grocery shopping. It’s finally become a real grudge task, one I will do almost anything to get out of.

All I am seeking in my shopping mission is an experience that that makes me happy. Is that too much to ask? I want it to be easy, simple, with few challenges and pops of engagement. The emerging trend towards shoppers making smaller, more frequent shopping trips and moving away from the big weekly shop means people like me are changing their behaviour and visiting more local, convenient and interesting shopping experiences. These rich interpersonal experiences are quite different to the ones we have in supermarkets but that doesn’t mean supermarkets don’t have exciting activators up their sleeves.

To battle diminishing engagement I’m turning my attention to the aisle and POP (point of purchase displays) and I’ve found a fair bit of international research to back me up.

On average I spend about 40 minutes browsing the aisles in my local supermarket but all in all I think that a grocery trip takes me about an hour from entry to exit. So perceptually I think it takes 20 mins to get from the checkout to my car – whew! This is my Achilles heel: I actually try to look at all the POP and all the new products. After all, this is my craft. There is simply too much being thrown at the shopper (especially in my classification of household shopper 25-49 with children 4-8).

The prevalence of POP displays has grown over time and getting it right in-store can be the making of a brand, and it can be more cost effective than TV and press advertising.

To reference some international research, POPAI UK & Ireland’s Grocery Display Effectiveness Study, which was a three year analysis of seven million shopper interactions in Tesco, Asda, and The Co-operative, found that the typical UK supermarket averages 20,000 items of display or promotional messages. I don’t think NZ supermarkets are far off that based on my last trip to Countdown.

Although I try and give it a good crack, normal shoppers can’t, don’t, and won’t attempt to look at and read every message. Shopping tends to be done on autopilot and understanding that shoppers will change to manual control when a display grabs their attention is crucial to success.

So here’s the pointers from the research combined with my learnings over time. Use these as you develop your in-store POP approach to get that vital share of shopper attention.

  1. Shoppers are becoming more keenly aware of the volume of messages being thrown at them in-store, and they actively filter out most of the communications. They’re only engaging with promotions they view as relevant, meaningful, and of value to them personally.

  2. Marketers have to convince shoppers to see their display within 0.9 seconds

  3. The UK research indicates that premium displays are least effective on the 30-something shoppers. They respond more to Gondola end displays than any other age groups. Gondola side displays are least effective on 50+ shoppers.

  4. Men are slightly more susceptible to in-store promotions.

  5. POP displays featuring or simulating movement have a great impact on shoppers than static ones and Floor Graphics and Walk Around Displays work best for Food/Snack purchases.

  6. Retailers have a crucial role to play - focusing on uniformity of display in store is potentially damaging and restricts the opportunities for conversion. If the same approach is applied too often, you may lose impact so it’s better to mix it up to disrupt the landscape. Keeping your shopping environment new and fresh gives shoppers new news to breathe in.

  1. The research indicated that price reductions and multi-buy displays are less engaging and have a lower conversion than free product (eg. An extra 20%). The exception is when there is a new product promotion linked to a price reduction. This suggests the use of price promotion does not automatically translate to a more engaging proposition for shoppers, so think of alternatives.

  2. Store own “bundled deal” (e.g. any 3 for $10) messages have a higher conversion ratio amongst shoppers shopping with a list, vs multibuy store messages (e.g. 2 Mainland Edam Cheese 500g for $10).

  3. In store sampling/demonstrations lead the stakes in terms of impact and engagement.

  4. Short, sharp messages are best: e.g. “NEW” or “$3” instead of “double reward points when you buy two packs”.

And, finally in the ‘no shit Sherlock’ category

11. Displays must stand out from all the others to be noticed – size, position colour and shape

My favourite phrase at the moment seems to be “no shit Sherlock” as we rediscover the obvious. All of the above points might be obvious to you but take a look at the supermarket aisle and you’ll see at times it is worth restating the obvious!

(Research referenced from Inside Retail, 3 September 2013)

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