-Peter F. Drucker
The most accepted brand building models assume the vast majority of consumer relationships with brands happen outside the store. In consequence, we spend the majority of our budgets ––and time– bulletproofing the portfolio strategy; crafting inspiring, differentiated brand positioning models; and amplifying all of the above through brilliant plans and su cient media investments. To an outsider, it can seem like we engage in competition to build robust “360 plans” to win our CMO’s and CEO’s thumbs up, and to be in line with global best practice. Most of our budget is usually allotted to media, and we therefore end up trying to seduce consumers using the same message across a collection of touch-points. And it is thus that we are taking the biggest –– and riskiest– leap of faith: Hoping our integrated communications plan will drive consumers to choose our brand when they face the shelf.
This is a model that could work... in 1990. Today, myriad forces are at work reconfiguring the markets we operate in every day, and changing the contextual landscape where brands fight for consumers’ hearts and minds. At Faro, we believe these forces stand out from the rest:
Development of Digital Platforms and reconfiguration of their roles in consumers’ lives, including the explosion in average number of screens they are exposed to. Message and screen clutter is already massive, leading consumers to become even more selective in opting out of traditional brand messaging and, furthermore, to consumers more proactively engaging with brands and messages they choose.
Consumers have taken control. Their voice is more important than ever in the brand adoption process, and advertising’s traditional role in filling information gaps and driving the adoption process is, in the best case, obsolete. Consumers today arrive at the point of sale with almost all the information they need to face not their first, but second moment of truth with brands on the shelf. When they eventually choose a brand on shelf, their vote is usually based on information obtained from multiple sources, most of which are different than the “o cial” brand sources.
The trade has completely transformed their role in the adoption process, going from being mostly a “transaction floor,” and becoming show rooms of sort that create a variety of brand building opportunities. Amongst other cultural trends, mass migration to large urban centers have created a space where massive shopping centers become spaces where consumers (yes, consumers, and not only shoppers) surf trade outlets in search of entertainment, experiences, and information. They choose alternatives to compare and contrast, busting myths and confirming or adjusting previous decisions to give their votes to a certain brand.
It is not our intention to negate the core role of brand building using traditional vehicles. Our proposal is that brands ought to re-balance efforts and adapt to new environmental truths, and start seeing retail spaces differently: as a space that can drive
not only sales but also act as a core territory for brand building. Closing sales today requires brands to plan for the retail moment of truth from the heart of the Brand Strategy, rather
than leaving this as a “last mile” task, or delegating it unto the sales organization. We believe the design, development and execution of an in-store vision should be core work for Marketing teams. Delegating this work unto others is like abandoning your child, or putting your career in some one else’s hands. Again, closing sales today is core work for Marketing teams. To be able to plan for this reality, there are fundamental shopper principles underlying key questions to review in our operations and activity systems. However, to truly change the rules of the game, we need to think differently about the store. One of us had a boss who once was asking what the busiest intersection in Mexico City was on a conversation about outdoor media. After our now partner assuredly answered “Insurgentes and Reforma”, he retorted with an interesting question: “What about the central aisle at Wal-Mart Toreo?” Thinking about the point of sale as consumer tra c areas besides transaction floors, can elicit out of the box thinking for brand building and consumer experiences that can transcend the transaction. Trade environments today are potential brand building vehicles that could provide more reach and effectiveness than some of the ones we use by default using the 1990’s BrandAction toolboxes we grew up with.
Do I have a winning trade story? To win in the marketplace, the trade needs to win as well. There is no way out of this one. Do I have a clear story of my brand’s role in the context of the category so the trade can win with me? Category sales growth, trading up, market expansion, better trade profitability? Without this, no brand plan has a clear chance to win.
Do I understand the elements of my value proposition that can help me nail the message to close the sale? Or am I simply carrying over to the store and packaging the same message used on film and digital? Do I have a power claim that can land my story and value proposition in as little as five words?
Am I designing the Brand Action from the shelf back? Or am I designing from the computer to the shelf? Does my design consider the competitive context? The store context? Is my packaging a shelf vehicle that can work to close the sale? Does my pack design consider the diversity of shelf sizes, lighting and competitive context?
Do I have a clear in-store vision of my brand across the trade? Do I have a picture of my brand presence in the shelf and off the shelf? What kind of materials and push personnel does the brand need per store type? Per customer? Per region? Is my in store vision aligned with key purchase drivers and the category decision tree to maximize ROI? Success is a matter of clear expectations. Designing our in store vision with a greater degree of granularity is a starting point.
How can I disruptively think of the trade as a high tra c opportunity a show room vs. only a transaction floor? Can I show how my product works, can people play with my product, am I planning quality education beyond the robotic push person?
Am I leveraging the trade to engage with both consumer and shopper to design our plans to win at the second and third moments of truth –– When the shopper buys and the consumer uses our product? (first moment of truth is now social or online search). Are the Trade and Consumer Marketing teams working synergistically to win on both fronts? Or is our agenda still dictated by the physical space in which Brand Action takes place (Trade and Consumer Media)?
It is not 1990 anymore. The context has changed, making retail today a core brand building territory for those prepared to grab it.
If the only tool your brand is using at the point of sale trade is sales discounts or back margin contribution to get incremental shelf space or displays, you may very well be wasting time and money. Let’s expand our toolbox with brilliant brand building at the point of sale. Even better, let’s start mapping the future of retail to engage in that space to build our brands.
Acerca de FARO
FARO es una compañia de consultoría de negocios que ayuda a empresas e instituciones públicas, privadas y sociales a alcanzar sus metas a través de estrategias de negocio, marketing e innovación que generan valor. FARO cuenta con oficinas en los polos mas importantes del continente y un robusto equipo de socios con experiencia directiva multinacional en todos los aspectos de la actividad comercial.