Sunday, November 09, 2008

The variable value of in-store promotions

I just completed reading a paper by marketing researcher Herb Sorenson, published in the Journal of Advertising Research, entitled Long Tail Media in the Store". I recommend it highly.

I’m not going to go into the details of the paper and the methodology of the research, which would take too long, but I'll pass on a few of the findings and some of the related facts that Sorenson notes.
  • The typical shopper only spends about 20-30% of his/her time in the store actually buying things – leaving the remaining 70%+ (about fifteen minutes of a typical twenty-minute supermarket trip) to be persuaded by the multitude of marketing messages in the store.
  • The shopper, however, only reads about 8-10 text-type messages; most marketing messages are absorbed via color, shape, and icons/logos.
  • Most purchasing decisions are made very quickly (note that only about five minutes of the trip is spent buying the many items that a typical family shopper purchases on a weekly trip – therefore each decision takes only a few seconds on average). Any marketing message that is intended to result in immediate purchase therefore must be presented, seen, processed, and acted upon in less time than it took you to read this sentence.
Sorenson’s research was based on having shoppers wear a small camera attached to their ear, which recorded what the shoppers saw and how long they looked at it. Sorenson then applied weights to the reach and frequency of exposures as well as the length of exposure, to come up with a measure of the relative impact of various in-store marketing tools.

Again, I’m not going to go into detail on his findings – no one will be surprised to learn that endcaps are the most frequently seen type of display and get the most attention from shoppers. I’ll mention one item that I found surprising (though, on relection, it made a great deal of sense): In-store flyers are used by a relatively small portion (21% in the case cited) of shoppers, but those shoppers who do carry the flyer with them refer to it so frequently that it ranks third among all the in-store media.

From a TPM perspective, I think the research, as it is followed up and expanded upon, should be used by marketers to assist them in evaluating in-store promotions and how much to pay for them. It also points up the need to capture full information about promotions – how often is “in-store promo” the totality of information entered into the planner?

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