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May 9, 2008

Simon Sa’Feio: If you want to do better in Tesco, leave the shop!

Imagine you’re a marketer with a brand under threat of being de-listed by Tesco. To increase sales, you need to introduce your product to a lot more Tesco shoppers, and you’ve got a budget of £125,000 to play with.

You talk to a field marketing (FM) company. They tell you they can sample the product around 100,000 times at supermarket aisles in as many as 450 stores.

You then talk to an experiential agency. They advise you to run a near-store, car-park campaign instead. They come up with something creatively interesting with branding and staff interaction. They, too, will reach around 100,000 shoppers. But with a set build and staging, the experiential campaign will roll out to far fewer stores – probably 50 or so. What do you do?

More often than not the decision goes in favour of the FM campaign. It reaches more stores. It satisfies the company’s retail controller eager to offer his customer the “biggest possible” campaign. Consequently, there is far more spent on in-store field marketing than on near-store experiential work. However a little analysis quickly shows how the FM choice is an erroneous, default decision.

Extending the reach
First, consider how and why for the same budget, the experiential campaign reaches an equal number of shoppers. It’s because it talks to all the store’s shoppers, not just those already at the aisle where the product is on sale.

Is it not fair to assume that those who frequent the aisle in question are more likely to be aware of the brand anyway? They are shoppers who may already have made their decision not to purchase (tough to convert) or perhaps worse, are shoppers who purchase already (wasteful use of budget).

If you’re the brand marketer, your objective in these circumstances has to be extended reach. And for that matter the retailer would presumably aspire to improved shopper flow around his store?

Behavioural change
Next, consider the mid to longer-term marketing value of these different options. Near-store experiential campaigns inevitably involve a layer of theatre, creativity and more field staff interaction than when a lady at the dairy aisle hands you some cheese on a stick. The shopper experience is more compelling and more memorable.

This is often borne out in EPOS data showing conversion to purchase ratios just as high with near-store sampling – a converted shopper will happily seek the product out. Moreover EPOS data captured many weeks after Carbon Marketing’s near-store campaigns shows sustained sales increases – these campaigns make an impression, contributing far more to behavioural change.

The marketing cost efficiencies of experiential over field marketing campaigns do stand up to scrutiny. They are more engaging, create longer dwell time experiences and deliver stronger, longer-term brand building. They offer a win/win for both retail and consumer marketers. It’s time these things were recognised since there is clearly a compelling argument for a shift of spend.

Simon Sa’Feio is account director at Carbon Marketing.

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