The Next Big Disruption in Retail (and no, it’s not iBeacons)

Smart shopping is around the corner, much has been written about the extended possibilities of digital interaction within physical stores, leveraging on mobile and other technologies such as iBeacon or NFC.

Microsoft recently announced, through a concept video (a must see) their HoloLens. A very interesting release since just a week before Google announced they were stopping to sell their similar product, Google Glass. Same product? not really. Google took the wearable path, and this generated much controversy not only because the cost (to be a wearable), but because of the uses of the product, which limited it to be an additional screen to your phone (the same as a watch could be). Microsoft, on the other hand, has played the augmented reality game, which is not new at all, but which gives a great twist into the uses of the product. Read the rest of this entry »


7 Reasons Why Shopper Marketing is Not Enough.

“Shopper Marketing is the elephant in the room that nobody sees the same way.”
[Markus Stahlberg]

And what an Elephant! Every single client I’ve been lately working with is renaming their trade marketing departments to Shopper Marketing, which is something much more appealing and finally puts their activities at least at the same level that the “traditional” marketing departments. We can find as many definitions of shopper marketing as gurus trying to sell their Shopper Marketing Books, but one I particularly like is the usage of insights in order to target shoppers for creating experiences focusing on business results.

In the past years I have been analyzing the path to purchase and decision journeys of many clients in a decent number of categories, from cars to beauty or energy drinks, and, although there are differences, we can find common patterns in consumers/shoppers behaviors, because at the end, the same shopper buys beers and deodorant in the same purchase. Before listing them, it’s important to understand that in many categories consumers are the same people than shoppers (some call them Shopsumers), and, when it’s not the case (e.g. pet food) the “traditional” marketing is also impacting them (but probably with different values, e.g. kids stuff).

What behaviors are the most common across categories?

Consumers are distrustful towards the brands. Even if the awareness and consideration levels are high, the impact of massive channels is limited for making them try. They use other inputs for getting informed and check the brand proposition veracity.

The impact of other’s opinions is huge. They know a brand, they consider it, but they will always go online to look for the product and get the right answers to conform their opinion. Most people don’t browse the brand website (except they’re on site with their smartphone), nor their social networks, and if they do, they do not give them much relevance. They mostly go for opinions in trusted sites (from retailers such as Amazon or Tripadvisor), blogs and forums, or YouTube when they want to see the product experience.

Employees matter. In those categories where there is a person in the process, it plays a very influential recommendation role, if he or she is well trained. When comparing different retailers, we do see important differences, that can only be explained by the different levels of training and consumer orientation.

Offers and promotions will affect decision, within a choice set. If the brand is not in the choice set, offers will hardly make it get in the circle. If you’re entering the category, leverage on other values.

Working on occasions is a good way to foster trial. Working from the consumer to the product will show how to tackle this occasions, quantifying and twisting your communication towards them, choosing your channels accordingly.

But focus on very specific consumption occasions in the long run will limit growth. Most consumers see a barrier of purchase the fact that the product is not for the occasion, and sometimes it could be with the appropriate change of perspective.

Mobile is everywhere. When asking friends and relatives for opinions, or checking for prices. In fact, a recent study we ran for Geometry Global says 60% of consumers use their mobile device when visiting a physical store looking for prices or additional information.

Ok, good enough. Let’s go back to Shopper Marketing. Just review the seven behaviors and find where typical Trade Marketing, sorry, Shopper Marketing department will make an impact………. yes you’re right, in the point of sales. And the rest? Most of the influences are occurring outside the store. It’s amazing to see how Shopper Marketing is gathering very powerful consumer/shopper insights (business oriented) covering a myriad of touch points which responsibles are dispersed in different departments. Maybe it’s time of a little bit of consumer centricity, don’t you think?

Shopper marketing is not enough, or then everything should be shopper marketing, an elephant in the room is just an elephant, it’s your consumer, and everybody in the company should see it the same way. Who will bell the cat (or the elephant)?

This post was originally posted here.


Omnichannel Retargeting, the scary future is near.

If you’re worried about your privacy, don’t read this post. Even if you’re not familiar with the wordretargeting, you have suffered it for sure. Let’s say you are looking for a nice hotel to spend your Christmas in Bahamas. You visit your favorite online travel agency and start narrowing your choice set, based on others’ opinions, availability and price. You finally see one you like, you check the pictures, room types and so on. You stop it there, maybe you bookmark the page, and you close your browser since probably you want to share it with your relative at home. A couple of hours later you check another page, maybe an online newspaper. Suddenly, every ad you see is related with Bahamas and the hotels you have been looking at. You wonder how does the newspaper website know you’re going to Bahamas on vacation.

What you probably didn’t know is at somewhere, both in the Newspaper and the Travel agency websites, you accepted a cookie policy that allow them to share information through third parties. This cookie is the bit of information stored in your computer that is linking your profile between a bunch of websites out there under the same advertising network. And as of today, this is only available at websites (maybe some apps too).

The good thing about apps is they not only can keep track of what you do in the app (the same you could get from a website), but they know a lot more of things that can be used for retargeting.

For instance, imagine you stop by your favorite clothes shop. You use their app to scan the NFC tag on a pair of jeans and share it with your friends. You get home, open your Facebook and see an offer to buy those jeans online.

But you don’t even have to do anything. You are looking for a new car, you get to the nearest Volkswagen dealer, there is an iBeacon in each car that knows you have been sitting in the New Beetle. You leave… and that evening, when you’re visiting your favorite online car blog, it’s crowded with New Beetle banners offering a test drive.

¿What about TV? Imagine you’re watching your favorite TV show. You have a second screen App that knows what are you watching… including the commercials, where there is a great ad about tourism in Japan. Next time you visit one of your freemium apps, they will show you banners about Japan… And when the TV will not be broadcasted anymore, but on demand, ads will be pushed in the same way banners are. More personalization, more retrargeting.

So all this is very promising, but also very scary. Some consequences of this near future:

  1. Lawyers will have to work harder, in order to structure term conditions and privacy options, basically to allow companies to do what they want with your data. And technology has to follow, privacy settings control should include multi device, multi position, multi brand options.
  2. Media agencies will have to work harder, in order to structure a real strategy based on consumer profiles. Is not anymore about where the target is and pushing some GRPs or banners to mass media, is about understanding the consumer journey and defining rules that cover different behaviors. Needless to say that CMOs and their teams need also to understand this new paradigm.
  3. Communication opportunities will arise between brands sharing the consumer’s basket. Cross selling will not happen in the supermarket, it will happen anywhere. These agreements will allow to share data, with more legal implications.

How all this will change the relationship between consumers and brands? I’d love to hear your opinions on this topic.


In store shopper activation. Bye bye QR Codes, welcome NFC!

I recently started a series of posts called “Beware of Hype” trying to reflect about what happened with some technology or marketing hypes and why they finally didn’t work as expected. I can confess it now: I planned my next Beware of Hype post to be about NFC. This was previous to the iPhone 6 launch rumors, since Apple was constantly refusing to add it to their devices. I was (very) wrong, and obviously there was a reason for it. Now, NFC is the de facto standard for mobile payments.

Although payments will receive the most significant boost thanks to Apple endorsement, NFC can do much more than that. The good thing for Apple”being late” is that there are endless applications to this short range communications technology, and very low cost NFC tags.

NFC is based on RFID, that was supposed to be the future for logistics and supply chain management, but also, for Marketing. In 2004 (yes, that’s 10 years ago, the iPhone wasn’t even launched), Gillete massively deployed RFID tags in their products, not only for out store usage, but also for in store traceability in partnership with Walmart. That has been criticized as the greatest privacy breach ever, and the project was put aside. Today we’re giving our position to many of the apps in our smartphone both GPS for outdoors and iBeacon for indoor without being much problem, I guess privacy concept has a little bit changed since then. The RFID/NFC technology has evolved so much, that tags can be obtained for very few cents the piece.

In fact, some companies such as Samsung with the Tectiles, already provide programmable NFC stickers, as the simplest way to make the phone do things, like set up the alarm, launch an application or join a wifi network, but more interestingly perform actions such as like a facebook page, check in with foursquare or open a web page, which has a huge potential for in store activation and interaction. But wait, there is already something that does more or less that… QR codes.

QR codes are massively used in Marketing as a shortcut between the real world and the digital world through your smartphone. You can read some serious dos and don’ts with QRs codes here. The truth is, between you and me, reading a QR code is not the easiest thing in the world for everybody. My 65 years old mom, owning an Android 4.4.4 smartphone, doesn’t know how to. She doesn’t know she has to download an application for reading the codes, she doesn’t know the products she’s buying in the supermarket are plenty of these codes because nobody told her. The adoption of the QR technology is being quite organic, kids know what they are, some parents and most of grand parents don’t. But tapping something with the phone is sooo much easier… you don’t need an app, just keep the NFC activated and your ready to receive contextual information about a product you want to discover, it’s perfect for smart shopping.

Yes, I know QR codes are much cheaper to print, maybe NFC tags are not for every product, but at their current cost, they are very affordable and give plenty of communication opportunities. Of course iBeacons are there for push communications, but you need an app installed in the phone. They complement themselves, NFC will be used for pull communications when the consumer wants to get something from the product, proactively, and easily.

Imagine clothes with the tag that take you to the online store, or just like the product in Facebook so your friends can see it online. What about cosmetics? having a tag with a detailed product description, skin compatibility tests, cross recommendations… I can’t even foresee all the possible applications, but it seems Apple does, as they’re filing some patents regarding these exciting possibilities. Definitely, after all, NFC will not be a hype, and I will have to find another one for my next post.

Pictures from Apple.com and Samsung.com

Originally published here