I predict that over the next few years three of the hottest marketing trends, digital marketing, shopper marketing, and mobile life will all converge to put shopper marketing into the hands of the shopper. Literally.
In fact, it’s happening already as Stop & Shop rolls out Scan It! (by Modiv, Inc.) to more and more stores. You walk into a store, scan your frequent shopper card, and take a handheld device. Offers that are customized to your purchase history and to your exact location in the store pop up on the screen. You can scan and bag your groceries as you go and then check out becomes a breeze.
Comments I found online at a forum called couponmom.com are generally positive. Here’s an example.
“I do it all the time at Giant Food. I love it. Gives me extra discounts on items. It takes inventory of what you buy and then the next time you come in it might give you .50 or 1.00 off that item, and you can use coupons with it. When you get to the register the cashier has a special barcode she scans to let the register know a self scan is checking out…It does make your trip slow…But it’s well worth it. The first time I used it I bought a oven ready roaster $ 4.99, scanned it and about two minutes later the thing went cha’ching and bam BOGO free roaster. It was a huge chicken. (So) I got four that day.”
In addition to (or in replacement of) a dedicated device like Scan It!, a smart phone brings the whole internet and social web into the store. Already iPhone apps are here like Redlaser that allow you to scan a UPC code and price comparison shop. In Asia, QR codes (2-dimensional bar codes) are everywhere and they are starting to come to the US. If your smart phone has the right (free) software downloaded, these codes on packages or ads bring you to a website, offer opinions, and deliver the rich experience of augmented reality on demand. Layar (based in the Netherlands) has created eye-popping augmented reality for Android phones where you choose your “layer” (e.g. restaurant ratings, or subway stops, etc.) as you walk around a city. (Click here for video). It would be easy to imagine how a shopping application could bring brand stories to the shopper right at the point of purchase that can be told via sight, sound, and motion.
Marketers, retailers, and shoppers will all want this marketing convergence to happen:
- For most products, a high percent of purchases (50% or more) are still up for grabs as people shop so there is tremendous potential for digital mobile marketing to provide leverage at exactly the right shopping moment.
- Shoppers are probably more likely to actually SEE ads on their mobile devices then on the shelf. Paco Underhill says people don’t look up when they shop but anyone walking in Manhattan knows that people constantly look at their cell phones.
- In store messaging offers attractive reach relative to many other media properties in our long-tail media world.
- Both retailers and manufacturers will want this to work. Retailers like anything that drives sales in their stores and manufacturers will want to extend their brand stories, meal solution suggestions, etc. into a retail environment over which they otherwise have little control.
- Marketers will be excited by the possibilities of precisely measuring ROI. Especially if this is tied into frequent shopper data, we would know which messages got served up to which shoppers, and what they bought. That seems pretty airtight.
- Last but certainly not least, shoppers are time-pressed and budget-constrained. Bringing addressable messages, information on demand, and discounts right to the point of purchase on one of the most important devices in their lives just seems like a trifecta that most shoppers would welcome.
It’s coming. As William Gibson said, “The future is here. It just isn’t widely distributed yet.”