Turning People into Purchases

In this age of the connected shopper, where the path to purchase extends well beyond the four walls of a store, it’s often easy to ignore the impact that a well-considered and compelling point-of-purchase message can have on purchase decisions.

Introducing banks of gleaming iPads to enable shoppers to go online in-store can be helpful, but do we really want to do all that pre-purchase research online, only to be faced with more screens in-store? Actually, most of us would probably rather embark on the process of actually shopping.

The shop is, was, and will remain the star and the base for shoppers. But how can retail brands and their agencies turn more shoppers into buyers?

Back in 2009, FMCG giant Procter & Gamble launched what it called its ‘Store Back’ initiative. The concept was pretty simple. Agency partners were mandated to begin by having the end in mind when they were developing ideas – starting the campaign development process by thinking about how a campaign would be executed at retail, and then working backwards.

Whilst shoppers can be the consumer in some instances, they respond to a totally different set of stimuli, sometimes unconsciously, to how they react as a consumer or in planning mode. Advertising is engaging and elicits an emotional connection with the brand. But when it comes to applying that same creative to in-store it becomes all about adapting it to drive transaction. Yes, campaigns in-store should have visual attributes from ATL, but true success requires a creative approach that not only delivers a strong visual message, but also more designed messages to the shopper, promoting why they should choose one brand over another at the moment of purchase consideration.

Rather than simply modifying existing advertising for use in-store, the P&G’s initiative focused on helping its brands to produce more closely targeted executions, to maximise impact at the point-of-purchase – using shopper insight to unearth the barriers to purchase that need to be overcome in-store in order in convert a purchase consideration into a sale.

The challenge for retail brands and agencies is to come up with in-store communication that benefits the brand, retailer and shopper – brand and category activations that provide added value, instead of simply replicating creative executions on TV or in print.

Do this well and the retail environment will eventually become the place where ideas are born, not just applied. Perhaps then, traditional marketing lines of demarcation will also begin to disappear – instead being replaced by lines of fully engaged shoppers at the till, which would translate rather well to the bottom-line.