In the 15 years I’ve worked in retail & marketing, it’s been fascinating to watch the industry change; it’s been little short of a revolution.
The simple choices once available to advertisers – print, TV, radio, DM – have exploded into dozens of niche, diverse channels, with social media the buzz-word on brand manager’s lips. In some ways the multiplying of marketing channels has been exciting for business – companies can use lots of tentacles to draw in their customers. However, increasingly the downside is that the vital message can get tangled up in the process.
At last months’ Marketing Week Live, Zoe Howorth of Coca-Cola stressed the importance of in-store marketing and the need not to forget the real life physical interaction that consumers have with their brands. In my role as director of Cosine’s Sainsbury’s channel, I see this first hand, as there are few places more ‘noisy’ for a consumer than a supermarket, with brands all screaming and scrapping for attention. In fact, there are at least 20 methods now used in supermarkets alone to wave the marketing flag at customers as they move around the aisles, from security gate covers to trolley advertising, floor stickers to bollard covers.
This is why finding a way to cut through this noise, to really engage the customer, is becoming a real dilemma. Consumers are switching off, a problem not best solved by joining the shouting masses. But how to combat customer apathy? Though it doesn’t have the new-kid-on-the-block glamour of social media, my experience is that sampling is the best way to re-engage consumers. We all know that if we have a conversation with someone about a type of cheese, we’re more likely to remember the brand than if we glimpsed it on the shelf. At a time when people are tiring of being ‘sold’ to through every possible means, a friendly face is a brand panacea. It interrupts the shopping autopilot, shuts down the ‘noise’, allowing you to speak your brand message.
Vitally, this brand message can be accurately tailored to individuals. The highly structured approach to sampling research means that it’s possible to highlight the best supermarkets, the best aisles, even the best 5 minutes of the day in which to reach a brand’s target audience. At Cosine, we average 356% incremental sales uplift on the week of sampling, which says it all.
Of course, marketing channels will continue to diversify and I’m sure social media will continue to grow. But it’s worth remembering that, though it’s important to keep up with trends and understand new ways of targeting customers, brands ultimately have to still sell their products in store. When you cut away the noise and hype, that’s all that matters.
Josephine Kelly is Business Unit Director for Cosine’s Consumer Engagement channel, for more information on our work with Sainsbury’s click here.
To talk to someone about sampling in Sainsbury’s call Chris Orme on 01844 295209 or drop him an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org