The In-Store Solution.
It’s no surprise that marketers face enormous hurdles today in getting their message in front of the right consumers. At the height of the mass marketing era in the 1950s, advertisers could buy commercial time during I Love Lucy or The Ed Sullivan Show and be confident of reaching a huge percentage of their target audience. But no single TV show, newspaper, or Web site offers such widespread access to consumers today. The last bastion of prime-time mass marketing may well be the retail shopping environment, an advertising vehicle that many people would not even consider a communication medium. “Everybody has to shop, so the store is the last place where mass marketing exists,” says George Wishart, global managing director of Nielsen In-Store, the retail media division of the Nielsen Company. “Even better, you are reaching people who are declared shoppers. They’re there for a purpose.” During the last few years, marketers, retailers, and media companies have intensified efforts to increase the impact of in-store advertising and make it a bigger part of the marketing mix. They are moving beyond traditional vehicles such as cardboard displays, printed ads, coupons at checkout, and video screens that run the same ad throughout the store. Video ads in stores are more targeted than they have ever been. They are powered by networks that offer programming aimed at particular shoppers, on the basis of where they are standing in the store, the promotions on nearby displays, and the time of day. Consumers in some stores can find shopping carts that help them navigate the aisles; if they pick up a bag of charcoal, the cart suggests barbecue recipes and guides them to the ingredients — mentioning, perhaps, which brands are on sale. If consumers swipe the charcoal with a handheld scanner, the scanner generates a coupon for it and for complementary barbecue items such as chips or soda.
All top shows fade in time, and reality shows have a way of falling off a cliff once viewers tire of them. But after five seasons as the No. 1 show on broadcast, Fox’s “American Idol” is not about to take that tumble. That’s the take of media planners and buyers on the show, which returned this week for its eighth season. They see the show declining in viewers a bit this season, reflecting the general erosion of broadcast ratings, but they see it remaining the No. 1 show on television and they see it once again driving Fox to a season win in adults 18-49. Clearly, media people have a good take on the show, based on how it performed in its premiere on Tuesday night. Asked to peg viewership that first night, and given choices ranging from fewer than 25 million to more than 37 million, the largest share, around 24 percent, chose between 31.1 million to 33 million while 23 percent chose between 29.1 million to 31 million and another 18 percent chose between 27.1 million to 29 million. The opener drew 30.1 million viewers, down 9 percent from last year’s 33.2 million. Nearly two thirds of readers, 60 percent, think the show will decline modestly this season, “as part of the natural viewer erosion seen on other shows across broadcast. Its dips will be no more than those seen by ‘Desperate Housewives’ or other top scripted shows this year.” And 21 percent see it maintaining last year’s viewing levels.
For the vast majority of shoppers, the heady concept of “mobile apps” translates into calling your sister for a second opinion before actually buying that new coffeemaker. But a new study from ForeSee predicts rapid changes as consumers become more adept at using their smartphones while out shopping. At this point, only 29% of online shoppers use their phone to help make shopping decisions, although 91% own cell phones. And of those who have used them, 72% call someone and ask for an opinion, while 40% say they photograph the product they are considering and email it to someone for feedback. A much smaller group–24%, or about 7% of the total respondent pool–use the phone to go online and compare prices. And 15%, or 4% of the total, use their phone to search product reviews. ForeSee, which studies e-tailers and online customer satisfaction, expects those numbers to at least double in the year ahead. In many ways, these mobile shoppers are no different than other shoppers. “They are not more loyal, more satisfied, or more likely to recommend top retailers’ Web sites,” the study notes, but they are 6% more likely to buy something in the store. “Mobile apps offer a huge opportunity for retailers to encourage in-store purchases,” the report says, adding that stores that initiate “phone a friend” efforts may benefit from encouraging consumers to make their cell phone part of the shopping experience. “Going forward, retailers should encourage smartphone users to adopt retailer-generated mobile apps–not only to ask about a product or send a picture of a product to a friend, but to compare online prices, remember specs of something they were researching online, and identify the proper model or version of a wish list item.”
Strangest Media Opportunity of the Week: Pump it Up.
It’s so simple, and it makes all the sense in the world. If you want to reach potential car buyers anxious over high gas prices, meet them at the pump with an eye-arresting image that will stay with them long after they pull away. Here’s what an agency came up with for Daihatsu in a recent campaign pushing its economical Cuore model: miniature make-believe gas pumps at filling stations near Daihatsu dealerships in Switzerland. The dwarf pumps stood next to real full-size pumps, and atop each was a sign with these words: “Schluckt viel weniger.” That’s German for “A lot less thirsty.” In coming up with the campaign, creatives worked backward, considering first what would be the ideal venue, and gas stations were the obvious choice. “There was the strategic thought to talk to the drivers when they are at their most susceptible,” says a copywriter who worked on the campaign. “We wanted to show them that it is possible to manage with a much smaller fill-up if you are driving the right car.” Next came the challenge of conveying that message in an way that would make it stand out from all the other messages one finds at gas stations. After more brainstorming, the idea of the miniature pumps emerged.