Today's marketers are taking it to the store

How store managers can work with advertising to sell more product

If you’ve ever watched the TV series Mad Men, you’re familiar with 1960s adman Don Draper, a glass of Canadian Club in one hand and a Lucky Strike in the other, putting the finishing touches on the latest campaign for one of his clients.

In Draper’s three-channel era, a well-crafted ad was often enough to generate consumer excitement and cause products to fly off shelves.

Not today. Newspapers and TV alone don’t pack the punch they once did. It’s no wonder that a lot of consumer packaged goods companies are turning to the one medium that is as powerful today as it was in Draper’s day. I’m talking about the store floor. More specifically, I’m referring to something called store-back marketing.

You may already be familiar with store-back. If not, let me explain.

Store-back is an approach to marketing that puts the store first. The idea is to develop in-store programs that shoppers standing in the aisles will understand, then give them even more information on that product through other mediums, like TV, radio, print and online.

Store-back marketing begins with a shopper insight. For instance, hypothetical dairy company ABC Milk decides that shoppers would feel better about purchasing its milk if they knew a portion of every sale went to reclaiming farmland.

So in hundreds of grocery stores across the country, ABC Milk puts up product displays and this call to action: “Join the Farmland Project. A portion of every sale helps save Canada’s farmland.” The campaign would then be extended into TV commercials, radio and even social media, but with far more meat on the conceptual bone.

Store-back marketing works best when the message in the store is dead simple. Take laundry detergent, for example. A display inside the supermarket might only say “40 wash loads” followed by a header card with this explanation: “Now concentrated to work better.”

Working back through various media, the message becomes more elaborate. An ad in Today’s Parent might explain the environmental benefit of the reduced packaging. A TV ad might talk about the science behind the new concentrated formula, while a radio ad may briefly touch on both sustainability and science.

Store-back has existed in one form or another for decades. But it’s only been in the last few years that CPG companies have made it a core part of their strategy.

Procter & Gamble in particular began to make store-back an important part of its overall marketing efforts starting in 2009. Now, other companies are doing the same.

With store-back’s growing popularity, you need to know when programs are activated. More importantly, follow my three tips, below, to get the most out of these programs in your store:

Work with your reps: Manufacturer reps will know when a new campaign is coming down the pipe, and they can help you get the support you need. Ask them for proper point-of-sale information and display advice so that you can help them get the message across.

Watch the calendar: Put up promotional displays as close as possible to the official start of a store-back program. Being even a couple of days late may mean you’re missing out when TV, radio and other ad components of the program are in heavy rotation.

Ditch mediocrity: If you’re going to take the time to put displays up, make sure they’re excellent. Signs should look good, grab attention and give shoppers something they can easily understand. Follow my retail rule of 3, 4, 5: Shoppers should get the message in three seconds, from four paces, in five words.

The payoff of a good store-back program? Product will fly off shelves, just like in Don Draper’s day.

James Fraser is partner and retail guy at Hunter Straker, Canada’s Only Purchase Design Agency.

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