These days, shoppers are entering stores armed with more information than ever before thanks to their mobile devices. Customers are using these devices to research products before they leave the house, but are also comparing brands, checking reviews, and making crucial decisions at the shelf. These shelves are a crucial battleground for brands, where nothing should be left to chance. Therefore, when considering how to increase visibility in-store, brands must employ full control over the shelf space to meet with the expectations of educated shoppers who are looking for a seamless shopping experience.
Why In-Store Visibility Matters
Shoppers likely consider products when browsing on their computers and mobile devices, but ultimately, the decision is made in-store—when they are confronted with a myriad of options. It doesn’t matter if a shopper is looking for a particular brand if that brand can’t be found or if another brand “jumps out” and looks more attractive in-the-moment.
The following realities illustrate why focusing on achieving in-store visibility matters:
- Launching a new product doesn’t guarantee a sale. The failure rate of new products has always been high. Product and price are not always the problem, but rather brands neglecting to address a broad consumer need, failing to provide a good product experience, and providing insufficient marketing support which leads to a lack of thoughtful placement and promotion.
- Price inflation has slowed to a crawl. In supermarkets, the 0.4% increase of food prices in 2018 represented the first rise in three years. In 2020, food-at-home prices are expected to increase between 0.5% and 1.5%, which is well below the 2% 20-year historical average. In retail, consumer prices rose 2.3% from February 2019 to February 2020. With the stagnating CPG scene, brands can’t rely on organic growth alone to boost sales year-over-year. Conveniently, improving visibility and placement on the shelves can give brands a 1.4% or higher immediate jump in sales, according to Nielsen.
- Brand loyalty still exists, but name recognition is not as important as brand interaction. With so many choices—including store brand white labels—consumers can feel overwhelmed and will not always make a choice based on loyalty. Most shoppers have a repertoire of 500 SKUs in their minds, yet most supermarkets display 20,000 to 50,000 SKUs. Hypermarkets can reach upwards of 100,000 SKUs, which causes what behavioral psychologists call System 1 thinking. Consumers default to intuitive, habitual autopilot processing at the point of purchase. These deeply ingrained habits are influenced by years of brand awareness and purchase patterns. Eighty-five percent of the time, the shopper stays within the normal realm of activity. If a decision can’t be made quickly, the shopper is likely to skip over the whole category for the time being. Getting consumers to engage with a brand in that crucial decision-making moment is key.
How to Increase Brand Visibility In-Store
Those wondering how to increase brand visibility on competitive shelves can benefit from the following:
Running a Promotion
While aggressive product development and competitive pricing strategies are common approaches, they rarely lead to sustainable growth or fundamental shifts in consumer behavior. Instead, improving customer engagement at the shelf will bring more conversions long-term. A well-executed promotion can do just that.
Brands don’t have to slash prices to engage shoppers or attract a buzz. In fact, it’s better to keep prices stable and consistent across time and channel. For instance, Blue Diamond ran a “selfie” sweepstakes, where shoppers went through a store scavenger hunt to locate the new Nut-Thins product, took a selfie with the box, and posted it to social media with the hashtag #NutThinsContest for a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree at retail partners like Target, Kroger, Safeway, Stop & Shop, or Food Lion. The campaign was considered a big success with 72.3MM brand impressions and 9,000 purchases.
Achieving Optimal Shelf Placement
Marketers mustn’t overlook the basics; placement strategy matters. Brand ambassadors will want to walk the store and consider the perspective from typical shoppers before planning retail store displays. Planning a location convenient to an entrance, exit, aisle intersection, or checkout can maximize a brand’s store footprint.
Eye-level sight lines are ideal, but obviously different people have different eye-levels depending on their height, and not every product can be crammed into the small 36-inch target zone. Generally speaking, brands don’t want associates on their hands and knees stocking the product; shoppers expect higher quality items on the “top shelf.” Paying for this positioning is likely money well-spent. However, there are also other ways to maximize a placement budget.
One trick is to create a focal point, such as a themed display or highlight a special offer in a well-lit, 360° location that is shoppable from all sides. Another alternative is to create different selling levels in a tiered display that packs more merchandise, but takes up less floor space, when coordinating products that are complementary; high-profit items stack on higher levels, while lower-priced items go on the bottom.
Tilting products up by a 15° slant can improve visibility by an average of 27%, particularly among those shoppers who are “just browsing. Color blocking is another way to achieve optimal shelf placement that involves arranging multiple bright, bold, solid, seasonal colors to attract the eye for a sustained period of time.
Investing in Real-time Inventory Management
Real-time inventory management helps brands move beyond visibility to study in-store effectiveness and customer relationships. Since manual data can be 15 to 40 percentage points less accurate than digital in-store data collection, using the latest technology can provide a more accurate picture of how customers are engaging with products on the shelf.
The latest retail solutions employ real-time image recognition of shelf photos uploaded by sales reps, combined with artificial intelligence that analyzes images instantly and delivers monitored KPIs to marketers immediately. Data from the use of this technology can assist with shelf layout, brand blocking, flavor preferences, pricing, restocking, and competitive placement. Gaps can be corrected sooner, rather than later.
Trying a Mobile Marketing Campaign Partnership
An app-based marketing strategy can help brands gain visibility and encourage product interaction at the most critical juncture—when a consumer is actually in the store shopping. Since 56 cents of every dollar spent is influenced by digital in some way, it makes sense to invest in mobile. To take advantage of mobile, brands might consider forming a partnership with an established shopping app that offers personalization, gamification, and rewards—like Shopkick, for example.
An app-based marketing strategy can help brands gain visibility and encourage product interaction at the most critical juncture.
Shopkick app users begin a purchase journey browsing in-app content from brands and retailers at home or on-the-go. This content might be a curated lookbook or an informative video ad, for instance. Once pre-shop engagement has planted the seed, Shopkickers check to see which brands and retailers are offering “kicks,” or reward points, which further incentivizes shoppers to visit a particular store or buy a product online.
In-store, gamification mechanisms drive Shopkickers to particular products at-shelf and encourage physical interaction with the products in exchange for points they can redeem toward free gift cards. This strategy works by helping consumers seek out items that may not have been previously visible to them. In most cases, Shopkickers buy the products for extra rewards, resulting in a favorable impression of the brand that helped them reach their goals.
Achieving in-store visibility can be complex, but by investing in modern technology, brands can gain momentum over the status quo and ensure their product development work doesn’t go to waste.
Get more visibility on retail shelves. Read our success stories to see the impact Shopkick has had on our partners. Then, contact Shopkick to find out how easy and affordable it can be to launch your next mobile marketing campaign.
Image courtesy of Sergey Ryzhov