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When Sam Walton took Wal-Mart public with 15 stores in 1972, he noted: “Results are only in the marketplace.” Out of this philosophy the term “retailtainment” was coined two decades later, and along with it, the creation of in-store events to motivate consumers to interact with brands. Ever since, marketers have seen a significant rise in in-store marketing as brands seek to engage shoppers, create brand differentiation and increase sales. But retailtainment is about more than getting a product into the hands of consumers to sample. In-store events are partnerships; they strengthen relationships between brands and retailers by focusing attention at the former while driving traffic to the latter. In other words, they’re good for everyone, and successful campaigns from brands such as Health Mart Pharmacy, Target, SC Johnson’s Glade and Bandai America’s Power Rangers toy line have affirmed what’s in-store for in-store marketing.
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but in today’s marketplace, where consumer expectations are growing with every new technology, there are virtually limitless ways to reach prospective consumers. Through all this, making a connection – especially a face-to-face one – still produces magic.
With the myriad ways to engage consumers online and “on-Phone,” one might assess in-store marketing is headed the way of the coupon; that is to say, almost exclusively digital and interactive. To some extent, that’s true. In the last year, we’ve seen in-store campaigns go virtually virtual, often to positive consumer response. But last week’s successful Vertical Marketing Network campaign for client Bandai America proved once again that no amount of modern gizmos can beat the tried and true in-store demo. All Toys ‘R’ Us stores nationwide hosted demos for kids ages 3 and up and their parents to sample the newest Power Rangers Samurai Megazord toy. While pre-event support for “Megazord Demo Day” did benefit from some modern touches, such as blog mentions, email blasts and Facebook communications, there were also more traditional ones, such as roto ads and in-store signage leading up to the event. To further power involvement and purchases, participants received goodie bags filled with Power Rangers Samurai Megazord paraphernalia, as well as a coupon for a same-day purchase. Health Mart Pharmacy took a similar route recently, when it teamed with a variety of sponsors to create brand awareness and educate communities about diabetes. Using a mobile health vehicle that offered free health screenings, consumers were targeted through traditional means (think flyers) and social ones. More stationary, but no less effective, was Target’s 2010 Back to College campaign, which saw the retail giant hosting beauty, fashion and lifestyle stations for college students in stores nationwide. To drive store traffic, the brand created teaser experiences on college campuses, and then fueled the campaign on Facebook and with text-to-win prizes. SC Johnson, meanwhile, targeted an even more exclusive demographic — women ages 25-49 with an annual income exceeding $70,000 — with its Fragrance Collection by Glade campaign, which provided a boutique fragrance experience to this heavy-spending demographic at a fraction of the cost of its designer counterparts. By creating an especially targeted shopping experience, the brand fueled product awareness and loyalty, and drove sales.
These days, it’s not enough to be wooed; consumers want to be entertained and interact. Lucky for marketers the opportunities are vast, and the fundamentals inspiring.