Knowledge Bank Blog, New Product Launches, Range & Portfolio, Channel Execution

Engage Shoppers For Life, Not Just For Christmas

Are you consistently triggering shopper interest?

So, we are about 6 weeks in and there are still over 2 weeks to go until the big day.  Christmas is everywhere.

Some of you probably can’t get enough of it.  Others will be getting tired of it already.  Whichever camp you’re in, you can’t deny that retailers pull out all the stops at this time of year.  No wonder – if you win at Christmas it has a disproportionate effect on your wider performance.  And if you lose…

Having spent quite a lot of time in stores in recent weeks, one thought has kept recurring to us.  If you look beyond all the Christmas noise, there are some smart things being done in store.  Retailers are doing them because they think they are important.  But, are they important because it is Christmas?  Or are they important because they make shopping better?

We think they are important because they make shopping better.  And if they make shopping better, then why aren’t they done as regularly or as consistently throughout the year? Why wait until Christmas?

So, what are some of the things we mean and how can you do them more consistently.

Making the most of seasons & seasonally relevant products.  There are some key products that kick into gear at this time of year – cranberry sauce, goose fat, brandy butter etc.  They are getting way more attention than they do at other times of year.  If they didn’t would many shoppers still buy them? Yes.  Would as many shoppers buy them if they weren’t highlighted?  Unlikely.

Many other products have either seasonal peaks (e.g. ice cream) or a time of the year when they are at their best (e.g. fruit and vegetables).   Will shoppers who are really into asparagus buy asparagus even if you don’t shout about it? Yes, of course.  But, will a lot more shoppers buy asparagus because you have told them it is at its absolute best at this time of year?  Yes, quite a few.  So, why not do it more?

Spotlighting New (& Different).  There are a lot of products jumping on the Christmas bandwagon.  Put a couple of snowflakes or sprigs of holly on a pack, perhaps change the name on pack for a few weeks, and you’re away.   Products that shouldn’t get exposure do get it because of the Christmas link.  Yet, at other times of the year, often really good products slip onto the shelf unnoticed.

For instance, we are impressed with many of the products Tesco have been delivering, particularly in fresh and chilled.  We get to be impressed because we spend time in store and see them.  We look much harder than the average shopper looks.  But, we always leave the store wondering how many shoppers are aware of their existence? Not many we think.  Shoppers don’t get the chance to engage with them and buy.  Retailers like Tesco don’t take the credit they deserve for some of the things they are doing.

Grocery retailers need to be much better at spotlighting new in store.  We think they can do this in 3 key ways (1) more clearly signposting NPD at shelf – a generic ‘new’ sign somewhere in the vicinity of the product is not good enough (2) bring NPD together – why not have a feature with the top new products (from different categories) for that week? (3) prime shoppers for it – tell shoppers what is coming in advance.  What if retailers had a ‘coming next week’ piece of communication?  A lot of NPD doesn’t fail because the product is bad, it fails because not enough shoppers are aware of it.

Solution Selling.  This is all over the place at the moment.  Everything you need for the perfect Christmas dinner, what you should do with the post Christmas leftovers, the pre-during-post meal drinks.  Shoppers are looking for help and solutions, so retailers are providing them.  But, this isn’t just a Christmas need, shoppers are always looking for solutions.   Breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunchboxes, midweek evening meal, family get together, the evening sofa moment.  There are plenty of occasions to go after.

Winning products and winning retailers will be the ones who are best at linking to these occasions.  providing the most relevant solutions for shoppers, and, most importantly, doing this consistently.  The lunchtime – sandwich, crisps, soft drink (or variations of) – combination has been so successful because it has been so consistent.

As the advertising used to say “a dog is for life not just for Christmas”.  Likewise, the stuff we’ve been talking about shouldn’t be done just because it is Christmas.  It should be done because it makes shopping better.

Better shopping = more shoppers, buying more.  All year round.

This is our last blog of 2016.  Have a great Xmas & New Year.  Speak to you in January.