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Marketing inititiaves focused on centre store


Grabbing shoppers’ attention in the aisle with in-store initiatives is what consumer product goods companies like Unilever will be focusing their marketing dollars on.

According to a Globe and Mail story, Unilever’s Knorr soup brand, which spends some $5 million annually on marketing, will use most of that money on in-store initiatives such as displays, signs, samplings, and chef appearances, instead of television and other media ads.

Unilever is trying to refresh Knorr, a 174-year-old brand. And Unilever’s president John LeBoutillier is putting a big bet on marketing in store aisles where 76 per cent of today’s purchase decisions are made.

Unilever’s in-store marketing move could be the first of other packaged goods vendors to follow suit at a time when media is fragmented, and retailers have control in the aisles on product placement and occupy prime shelf space with their private label lines.

“It’s a big bet–it may work and it may not,” LeBoutillier said in the Globe. “But we’re at the point where we don’t have a choice.”

More than ever, suppliers are putting resources towards grabbing shoppers’ attention at the store shelf; this is coupled with payments to retailers for more prominent aisle space to ensure shoppers buy their products not only on discount.

According to the Globe report, research by the Path to Purchase Institute in Skokie, Ill., found that most (56 per cent) consumer product companies are making the shift to “path to purchase” spending on in-store marketing by up to 10 per cent or more this year.

“The point of concentration is ultimately in-store–that is the one place where you can be guaranteed to get your shopper,” said Martin Rydlo, a strategy director at Campbell Soup Canada, in the Globe report.

In reent years, grocers have paid more attention to perimeter departments instead of centre store, which generates more than 40 percent of a grocer’s sales. As a result, the past year, Carman Allison, insights director at Nielsen, told the Globe that shopping trips to centre aisles dropped 3 per cent–a $238-million of lost sales.

To get consumers back to the centre, suppliers are now pitching products in perimeter aisles as part of a meal solution or beside fresh goods, or showcasing them on shelf with recipes and photos, instead of just coupons.

In fact, getting away from discounts is part of Unilever’s in-store marketing strategy with Knorr, Mr. LeBoutillier said to the Globe, giving shoppers a recipe idea that involves several items carried at the grocer.

For example, Campbell Soup last month launched an in-store “summer’s on” campaign that featured posters of someone barbecuing a hamburger using soup as an ingredient.

Meanwhile, Unilever plans to promote its Knorr soups and cooking ingredients in the meat and produce sections so shoppers buy both the Knorr products as well as the retailer’s beef strips or onions.

The strategy has worked well for Unilever in other markets such as South Africa and South America in the past two years, resulting in sales increases in the “double digits” for Knorr and “high single digits” for participating retailers’ meat and produce, LeBoutillier said in the Globe.

For the program to work, retailers need to give Unilever four high-traffic areas for Knorr displays, as well as ensure products used in the recipes aren’t out of stock.

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