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A Lesson in Seasonal In-store Event Success

In recent weeks the focus has been on back-to-school. Although, in truth, most retailers launched their campaigns in-store even before the school bell had sounded to signal the end of term and the start of summer. Those of you with children, in particularly, will have noticed that retailers are starting to really go to town when it comes to promoting back-to-school. Displays are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with elaborate and compelling P-O-P and themed power aisles presenting a strong visual story. You only have to look at some of the 2015 POPAI Awards winners, announced earlier this month, to see how ‘on-board’ retailers and brands now are with back-to-school. Quite literally in the case of the FruitShoot and MiWadi School Bus by Britvic Ireland, and ASDA’s back-to-school bus.

Such in-store activations are now designed to engage children, as well as parents on the shopping mission. After all, dragging children around the supermarket or a department store to try on school clothes hardly constitutes a memorable day out during the summer holidays, or a shopping highlight.
As Ogilvy Group vice-chairman Rory Sutherland acknowledged as part of his introduction to a new book by behavioural scientist Dr Dilip Soman, “making people feel good at the point of purchase is more than half of the battle”. In other words, it’s not always about getting something at the ‘right price’. This is true, whether you’re a mum restocking your child’s wardrobes with new school clothes, or a marketer buying into the services of a supplier. Instead, it’s about the added value that ‘money can’t buy’ which determines whether you see any transaction as representing good value for money.
When it comes to promoting big events in-store, success requires much more than just a powerful marketing concept. The ability of leading retailers and brands to implement campaigns in a coordinated and compliant manner shows us just how much can be achieved from careful preparation and a focus on ensuring compliance levels are maintained throughout the duration of campaign’s life – not just in the days immediately after implementation. Ensuring that displays are implemented correctly and, importantly, also stocked and replenished to fulfil demand from shoppers is vital, demanding that brands identify, and work with, those that possess the expert knowledge and skills to get it right, first time. Failure to do so may drastically weaken the impact and purpose of promotional messages. Put simply, improving effectiveness is a learning process that never stops. Why? Because these big sales promotions matter to both retailers and brands, and driving sales conversion is key.

Speaking of conversion, the recent Rugby world cup, represented the third-biggest global sporting event, behind the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, and is undoubtedly the largest sporting event on UK soil since 2012. Put simply, it’s an opportunity that brands and retailers can’t afford to miss.
Anyone who works in sport knows that success is hard won. Retail can be just as unforgiving. So, while sports teams may enjoy a level of loyalty that is far from the reach of your average brand or retailer, it’s important for marketers to capitalise on the chance to sell more during these major sporting events.  

Increased visitor footfall during sporting events also brings with it the need to maintain P-O-P standards doubly hard. Dishevelled displays won’t show products at their best – resulting in lost sales.
It is estimated that 92% of rugby fans will watch the world cup at home, which means the opportunity for brands is massive, particularly from the sale of everything from snacks to beer, and even new TVs.

Drinks giant Coca-Cola has been keen to “join up the dots” in its on and offline communications around major sporting events. It began exploring this last year during its FIFA World Cup activity. During the week of the first England game, the brand looked at profiles of shoppers, and sent messages to them when were in the car park of Tesco stores. It then ensured its digital in-store displays matched the messages that it pushed out via mobile promoting particular packs, so as soon as they walked through the door that’s what they saw. In short: planned, integrated and well implemented. Result!

However, the most important thing to remember is that in-store success, like any team sport, is often a result of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Managing retail display installations that require hundreds of stores, countless installation specialists and often thousands of component parts, we perhaps understand that better than anyone else.