Guest Contributor Maren Seitz
| August 14, 2019
Director, Global Connect Center
Why the in-store experience is still key for your brand
Want to trigger impostor syndrome? Try this: Imagine being invited to a blind wine tasting. With a bunch of French wine buffs. You’ll have to guess each wine’s region and year and defend your position in an in-depth discussion. Sweaty palms yet?
Welcome to my weekend.
But that’s not all: you will also have to bring a bottle for tasting with you. So what do you do? Most likely you’ll head to the nearest bottle shop – and almost entirely make your decision there. Perhaps supported by a Google search, a savvy friend or knowledgeable sales staff.
Despite the rise of online shopping, physical stores remain key touchpoints for consumers – and not just when it comes to wine. The store is where we can experience a product, access expertise, and take our purchase home right away.
Kantar’s ranking of 18 key touchpoints driving brand strength confirms this: in-store touchpoints occupy three of the top ten spots. So which are they?
- Recommendations by sales staff come 3rd in our ranking - just behind recommendations by friends and family. However, the influence of staff varies widely by category, partly driven by the importance and complexity of the purchase decision.
Especially for prestigious purchases – such as cars, gemstones, or, well, wine – staff not only drive sales conversion, but can also be key in strengthening the brand image. Businesses hence need to train their own staff well and/or provide clear information to retailers on how to ensure their sales teams are spot on brand.
The presence of a brand’s products in store is the 5th strongest driver of brand strength. This includes the product being actually available, but also its presentation on shelf and in terms of pack design.
To leverage this touchpoint, brands need to deliver familiar visual cues, so that brand loyalists can easily spot their products when scanning the shelf in System 1 autopilot mode. At the same time, their products need to stand out – for example via product displays, pack design or shelf signage – to grab the attention of non-loyalists. This ideally switches these shoppers into System 2 processing mode, where they can be convinced by superior product benefits, features, or price.
In-store advertising – including promotion stands, in-store screens, announcements, or ad displays – ranks 7th in our list. In-store ads are a brand’s last chance to tell or re-enforce their story, or tell shoppers about promotions.
To maximise the effectiveness of in-store advertising, it needs to be well integrated with other touchpoints. Brands can build on the story told in the latest TV or online ad, coupled with a call to action that drives consumers to the shelf or to sales staff. For example, a cosmetics brand might cooperate with a social media influencer, who posts videos of using their make-up – and recommends picking up a free sample in store.
In my case, savvy store staff were the key touchpoint – saving my neck by helping me choose a decent bottle of wine. Where have you seen great examples of in-store touchpoints? Have you had a memorable experience yourself?