Knowledge Bank Blog, Channel Execution

Winning at Shelf : Presentation = Perception

Is the way you are being sold helping or hindering you?

Why do top chefs take so much care with the way dishes are presented?  Why do top Baristas or Bartenders spend time getting all the small details right, so you get a fantastic looking drink?  Why do Wholefoods instruct their staff to make sure every pepper is facing the same way on shelf?

Because they all know that product perception is as much about how a product looks or is served, as how it tastes or performs.  How it looks, is partly about the product itself and partly about the environment in which it is sold.  It is no coincidence that Apple have great looking stores as well as great looking products.

This is clearly important for premium brands, but it is just as important for mass market ones.

Most brand owners spend years, and lots of money, building brand equity.  They obsess about getting product quality and performance right.  They advertise to shape consumer expectation of the usage experience.  The shopper has been teed up perfectly before they get to the store…

Then the shopper walks down the aisle and sees a dirty shelf or ripped outer packaging or a dented pack.  So much great work pre store, compromised, perhaps fatally, through one experience at shelf.

So, how do you make sure the in-store experience is helping not hindering you?

Merchandising & Display.  Make sure that the way you are merchandised is reinforcing your main product benefit.  If taste is crucial to your category or brand, is the display shouting taste?  If freshness is important, does the display reinforce freshness? If hygiene is key, is the shelf ultra clean?

Secondary Display.  Look as good on promotion as when you are off promotion.  We’ve lost count of the number of times we have seen brands displayed in secondary locations and their display unit is damaged.  Or they are on a gondola end displayed in their outer packaging.  Manageable, if you have brilliantly branded outer packaging, not so great if you are in a bunch of brown boxes.  The shopper buys you on deal, the display looks really poor, which reinforces the perception that this is a brand you buy only when it’s on promotion.

Shelf Ready Packaging.  Sometimes you can’t control the overall environment in which you are sold, but you can control the way your brand is sold.  One of the biggest shop floor trends in recent years has been the massive increase in cardboard on shelf (ironic really, given how many retailers and brands push their green credentials).

Too many brands focus most of their attention on the primary pack (which is still important) and give very little attention to the shelf ready packaging.  Yet, the SRP is often the first thing the shopper sees.  So, in some categories, shoppers end up having the choice between one cardboard box vs the next cardboard box.  And if that is the choice, how do you make it?  Probably whichever box is the cheapest.

So, continue driving the brand experience above the line.  But don’t take your eye of the in store ball.  Be sold in the way you want to be sold. If you aren’t, you may not get sold at all.

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.