April Fool’s… Whoops! Most common mistakes at POP

Topics: Category Strategy, Channel / Retail, FMCG, Point of Purchase

By ShopAbility for TORCHMEDIA, April 1, 2008

Nobody likes feeling foolish! Here’s our heads up on the five most common point of purchase marketing mistakes, so you never have a ‘whoops’ moment yourself !

That much-bandied-about statistic about 70% of decisions being made at point of purchase has been used to justify all manner of in-store marketing programs. Some work a treat and achieve major sales uplifts; others just don’t seem to make an impact. There’s no doubt that more companies are spending more money in store, and this is a good thing – people are realizing that shoppers are not always the same people as consumers, and you need a shopper marketing strategy as well as consumer. Some things to avoid:

1 Whoops – made the wrong stuff!

Some in-store campaigns fail because the people who made the Point of Sale material weren’t familiar with the reality of how the channel works.Here’s a classic: a new food product that is distributed in supermarkets, petrol stations, food courts and some cafes. The promotions people decide a nice, speccy poster would be a good thing. Big bucks are spent.

Guess what? The supermarkets won’t take the poster, neither will the service station (ok, maybe one or two independent convenience stores might), there is no room for posters in any of the food court outlets and the cafes like to look nice and don’t want to clutter their walls with advertising.

And now there’s a whole pile of posters sitting in a warehouse. Whoops.

How to avoid the whoops:

  • Map out which channels and channel segments your promotion needs to work in, get out in field and look at them, and talk to retailers about what kinds of things work there. And get on board with production and media companies that have good relationships with those retailers so you can be sure your promotion will get up. What do we mean by channel segment? For example, liquor stores – a drive thru does not operate the same way as a stand alone store, because people are shopping from their cars and the stores are laid out differently. So for drive thru you might need to focus on t-shirts for the staff, because the staff is the shopper’s major conduit to a sale, whereas in stand alone stores you might need to focus at shelf and at counter.
  • Keep it simple – find out the top three things that work the best in the channel segments you’re in, and only produce those. This keeps your ROI at the maximum and helps guarantee your budget for next year.

2. Whoops – looks great, doesn’t get any action out of shoppers!

This one is a big one. Don’t blame your promotions / media agency if your campaign didn’t work because the messaging your company insisted on using didn’t resonate with shoppers.Many companies are still bending their heads around the difference between shoppers and consumers, and trying to make their consumer or brand presence promotions work in stores. Sometimes this can work (in instances where the shopper and consumer are the same) – but many times it just uses up your precious budget and doesn’t really achieve anything much at all.

How to avoid the whoops:

  • Be crystal clear on exactly what you want the point of sale or retail media to achieve. Is it driving trial of a new product? Education to get over misperceptions of the product and buy? Brand switch within a category? Reminder e.g. during top up shop? Prompt impulse buys? Keep in mind that in-store marketing is about conversion, where before-store marketing is about awareness. A clear call to action is needed. Tell your shoppers what they are supposed to do about it.
  • Understand the shopper purchase decision hierarchy for your particular product (do some shopper research). Is brand more important than price for your shoppers, or the other way around? Is flavour variant the key decision-making factor first? Why do you need to know this? Firstly, so you can determine whether a price promotion will actually work for your particular product – many companies assume in-store marketing is always about price points – not necessarily (especially for premium products). Also because you don’t want to cover your product packaging with a promotion that actually stops shoppers from seeing what it is they need to know when they buy. Classic example: a holiday promotion wrap around a can, that actually covered the flavour variant indicator on the pack. Sales went down. Whoops.
  • A picture paints a thousand words! The more you can deliver your message through pictures, the better. Shoppers don’t have time in stores to read lots of text – and ‘lots of text’ on point of sale or retail media equals more than about four words!

3. Whoops – nobody saw it!

Another biggie. Great idea, wrong place. Very common!

How to avoid the whoops:

  • Back to knowing how shoppers shop in your channel and category. Most often, your efforts need to be focused where your category is located, which is where the majority of your shoppers are. For example, in the aisle at supermarkets – which is also where shoppers spend the most decision-making time. Next most important is on the path to purchase between your category and the counter e.g. back to the supermarket scenario… gondola ends at front of store near the checkouts (if you can afford them! – also think about relevant category adjacencies for your off-location displays – places where your shoppers might look for a similar product). Then the counter / checkout itself, for impulse items you can purchase there. Then path to purchase between the entry and your category, and entry altogether (of shopping mall, car park etc.). The main thing to remember is to put most of your money where most of your shoppers are: at the category.
  • Don’t do wallpaper. Shoppers generally have a repertoire of stores they visit very regularly. If your promotion is up longer than a month it will become wallpaper – invisible.

4. Whoops – I just visited a store and it’s not there!

You visit a few stores, only to find your promotions aren’t actually in there. Damn!

How to avoid the whoops:

  • This one is just about follow through – while you may feel that you shouldn’t have to check whether your field / sales team has put the stuff up, it’s a worthwhile exercise. Is it because they are slack, or there are too many stores per person, or back to point 1… did you make the right stuff for the channel?

5. Whoops – it didn’t make any impact!

Ok, now here’s the biggest one of the lot. If you have eliminated all of the above reasons for this – you made the right stuff, messaged it correctly, put it in the right place and followed through to ensure it got up. But it doesn’t seem to be doing a hell of a lot.

How to avoid the whoops:

  • What was your budget for this promotion? And how does that compare to your before-store consumer promotions? If you’re expecting miraculous sales uplifts for 5% of what you spend on other forms of advertising, think again. A couple of bits and bobs in stores for a couple of weeks just won’t cut the mustard. Have a think about where your marketing budget priorities lie. If shoppers actually buy your product in stores, but your in-store marketing budget is the very poor cousin of your broader consumer-based marketing program, why is that? Does it need to change? Don’t abandon your shoppers when they are in store – this is where the rubber actually hits the road, right? Avoid a no-impact whoops and allocate a decent POP budget.

So, here’s to surviving April Fool’s Day
… And whoops-free POP marketing for the rest of the year!