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The real role of in-store experiential and how to maximise success

Matt Beech Account Director at smp - Creative Marketing Agency
By Matt Beech  //  Thu 16th May 2013
It seems like you can’t go into a supermarket these days without something being given away for free, but what do brands really get out of this?

On the surface seeing sales uplifts of, for example, 200% sounds great but does that guarantee a return on the brand’s investment? All too often it does not. If you are a basket staple such as bread then there is a great opportunity to deliver a significant uplift in sales through in-store experiential. But for most of the brands on the supermarket shelves, a 200% uplift may only equate to 20 pack sales per store.

At smp we often see from post-experiential research that, for those who claim to have bought following engaging in a brand experience, the same again are planning to buy. Therefore you can’t completely rely on the on-the-day sales figures as the be all and end all of your campaign evaluation. It needs to go deeper than that. Using competition mechanics to drive data-capture can allow brands to get a much deeper insight into how shoppers react to tactical in-store experiential activity.

In-store experiential has 3 key roles:

  1. To drive on-the-day sales
  2. To build visibility of the brand in-store
  3. To support retailers

More often than not, it is a combination of these 3 roles that delivers value for a brand. Particularly when launching a new product, supporting the launch in-store can be used as a tool to maximise listings and display, as well as convince retailers to increase their stock holding of the product.

In order to maximise the success of an in-store experiential campaign there are some key rules to follow:

  1. Choose the right retailer; every retailer has their own agenda, make sure that yours and theirs are aligned and that your target audience shop there in large numbers. If only a small proportion of the shoppers are in your target audience your campaign will deliver a lot of wastage. 
  2. Engage retailers early; the earlier a retailer is engaged, the easier it will be to align your plans with theirs. 
  3. Tailor your campaign; retailers like to feel special. Offering a retailer a unique tactical activity is more likely to enable you to push the boundaries with that retailer. By offering the activity solely to Tesco, smp managed to carry out in-store treasure hunts for Kleenex [link to case history] and face painting for Andrex [link to case history]. 
  4. Know your figures; if your unit sales per store per day are normally very low then it will be challenging to return on your investment. Anticipate the sales uplift in advance and ensure that this will enable you to return on your investment. A new consumer buying an FMCG product has a greater value than just the first purchase. If you know the retention rate of consumers and the annual average weight of purchase for your product you can calculate the value of a new customer. 
  5. Integrate; wherever possible try to bring cues from the brand’s core creative into the in-store activity. This will help to build brand recognition amongst the target audience. 
  6. Stock-up; there is nothing worse than getting in-store to find they have low stock levels. This can ruin the campaign before it ever starts. Ensure that stock levels are increased in activation stores in advance of the activity.

If done well, in-store experiential activity can be used to great effect; driving sales, increasing presence in-store and helping to improve relationships with retailers. But when carried out in isolation it can all too easily eat into brand profits with little to show for it.

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The real role of in-store experiential and how to maximise success
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