This Xmas?

Finweek English Edition - - LIFESTYLE - Tony Koen­der­man

DOES AD­VER­TIS­ING in­flu­ence your choices when you’re shop­ping? Prob­a­bly less than you ex­pect. New re­search in Amer­ica sug­gests that three-quar­ters of pur­chase de­ci­sions are made in the store – not when you see the ad on TV or in a news­pa­per.

This is not ex­actly a new dis­cov­ery. Point of Pur­chase Ad­ver­tis­ing In­ter­na­tional found five years ago that 70% of pur­chase de­ci­sions were made in-store. Now the fig­ure is 76%. This has alarming im­pli­ca­tions for con­ven­tional ad­vert i si ng, be­cause i t i mpl i es t hat ad­ver­tis­ing doesn’t per­suade, rsu it merely gen­er­ates aware­ness.

And it strongly sugggests that it ’s more ore im­por­tant to mar­ket ket in the store than out­ut­side it. In fact, says s TBWA r egional al pres­i­dent Reg eg Las­caris, shop­ping pping doesn’t hap­pen en only in the aisles, or r on­line. It ’s a con­tin­uum, which mar­keters ar­keters call the “Shop­per Con­tin­uum”.

But in-store mar­ket­ing is sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tional ad­ver­tis­ing, be­cause in ef­fect it turns the shop into a new mar­ket­ing medium. What the re­tailer or man­u­fac­turer does in the new medium in­cludes sam­pling, brochures dis­trib­uted at the front door as shop­pers stream in, the way the prod­ucts are dis­played on the shelves and elec­tronic screens that draw your at­ten­tion to spe­cific prod­ucts.

How­ever, there must be se­ri­ous doubts about the ve­rac­ity of th­ese num­bers. Where you make your de­ci­sions prob­a­bly varies enor­mously, de­pend­ing on the kind of thing you are buy­ing. Say you are buy­ing an item of cloth­ing, such as a jacket. You will prob­a­bly re­turn from your trip with a jacket – though it may not be the colour, style or brand you orig­i­nally had in mind. But there’s a good chance you’ll come back with some other items that com­ple­ment or match your pri­mary pur­chase. Score one for the re­searchers.

Now think how you shop for gro­ceries. To at­tract those rac­ing down the aisle with their trol­leys re­quires much the same sort of ad­ver­tis­ing as you find on road­side bill­boards. “It’s the rule of 3-4-5,” says Las­caris. “The mes­sage has to be ab­sorbed and un­der­stood in less than three sec­onds, vis­i­ble from four paces, and the ad­ver­tis­ing mes­sage can’t be longer than five words.”

One of the rea­sons for the greater at­ten at­ten­tion be­ing paid to shop­per mar­ket­ing is the In­tIn­ter­net. Cur­rently South Africans spend R3.3bn a ye year shop­ping on­line, which is not much – but it’s grow­ing 30% a year. An And on­line shop­ping be­hav­iour doesn’t do mir­ror in- store be­havi be­hav­iour, says Jenny Moore, a cons con­sul­tant with Yel­low­wood. “You can’t suc­ceed by sim­ply cre­at­ing an on­line in­ven­tory in­vento of your in­store lay­out, j ust as you can’t r epli­cate your print brochure h on your web­site and ex­pect it to work,” she says.

Once you’re shop­ping on­line, it’s per­fectly fea­si­ble that your pur­chase de­ci­sions will be made in front of your lap­top or iPad screen. One ad­van­tage of on­line shop­ping is the great ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion that re­tail­ers and brand man­agers can build into the back-end to help shop­pers make their de­ci­sions.

“The scope of the change is enor­mous,” says Moore. “But what is badly needed is more re­search to help us un­der­stand on­line shop­ping be­hav­iour and to de­sign shop­ping sites ac­cord­ingly.”

tonyk@fin­week.co.za

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