I came across an interesting article title in Ad Age yestreday "The Newest Brands? Open for Business" by Jim Lucas. In this short article Jim argues that "Retailers have switiched gears, Marketing their stores and labels and strengthening bonds with shoppers". Of course they have, I fully agree with Jim, but my though this has been really going on for a long time specifically in Europe as Jim points out, Tesco in the UK for example is usually perceived as a CRM king to develop and maintain profitable relationship with its customers. Some Retailers, and in fact all of them now, finally realized that the biggest asset they have is that they are "touching consumers" and have an opportunity to know them more, engage them at least once a week (as Jim says in the US, the average U.S. household is making 150 to 200 store visits a year) what an opportunity to sell more than products!
A lot more can be done to offer real experiences in stores and supermarkets, the kid that will forster people relationship with store brands rather than only relying on deals, promos, coupons, etc. I am not saying they are not important, I simply think there is room for building true experiences, the ones that drive loyatly and word of mouth... However, I really think that the biggest challenge is for brands and manufacturers, it is tougher than ever to market brands (at leats in the old fashion way). In the past, pushing messages on TV and having a good product available on store will do the trick, nowadays, it is not enough any more.... What costs more is people attention. As consumers, we have less time for everything and although economic slow down is pushing people to be cost consicious, they probably also want their shopping trip to be as simple and rewarding as possible, relying more and more on other consumers' feedback and conversations (online and offline!) to shape their opinions and choices. So brands you'd better hurry to partner with retailers to shape the right experiences for end users and use every opportunity to think about your brand loyalty with a specific approach tailored to partnering with retailers beyond price...of course, retailers need to talk the same language says retailers are getting there, and eventually it is for the benefits of both brands and retailers. As Jim says in his article, they need to work toegther "It is also important for retailers and manufacturers to align business goals, including driving traffic to the store or a specific destination in the store; creating larger sales receipts, better conversion rates, solution selling and cross-selling; and improving the total shopping experience -- for example, making it easier or more engaging, entertaining, educational or inspirational to shop."
To view Jim full article on AdAge (click here)