Yesterday it was revealed that Unilever intend to skew their marketing spend towards more in-store promotions instead of social media’.

The reason – up to 50% higher ROI.

I don’t know what this figure represents in real monetary terms but, we can probably assume the numbers are significant.

So why do we think this is?

Unilever’s Chief Executive, Paul Holman, himself previously warned against the overuse of discount promotions and predicted that Social Media would be a ‘much more effective tool for brand adoption than TV’.

So why is Social Media not providing the returns?

Far from being the cool, new kid on the bock. ‘Social Media’ has been around since the mid-90‘s. But it wasn’t until the likes of My Space came along in 2003 that we started to really understand and adopt the concept. Since then, the rest is of course history, with Facebook & Twitter the current lords of the realm.

One of the problems is that through Social Media, we are inundated with updates and offers 24/7. incentives and promotions coming through thick and fast, with each refresh.

Social media was originally a way for people to connect & keep in contact with one other, but increasingly, it has become a battleground for brands who want penetration at any cost.

But if we are honest, how many of us really look at these updates? I would hazard a guess that we are more accomplished than ever at switching off to the white noise of social media. Instead, choosing to hone in on the messages that matter – most likely the ‘social’ aspect rather than the ‘media’

There is also a tendency for Social Media to look at an audience (for instance 100k likes) and assume that this is a ‘captive’ audience – it simply isn’t.

In-store promotions work because of 2 simple reasons

1) When a person visit their local supermarket – they are not just a captive audience, They are also a motivated audience. Consumers are there for a specific reason. To shop.

2) When people are shopping (especially in the current economic climate) we are instinctively looking out for value deals and new, exciting products.

However, within any supermarket shelf, will sit a multitude of price promotions and discounts happening at any given time. If brands really want to leverage the investment of their in-store promotions, they need to ensure that their brand is front-of-mind and front-of-store before shoppers reach the aisles.

Targeted ‘front of store’ product sampling, ensures that consumers come into contact with your brand as soon as they approach the building.

Highly skilled brand ambassadors persuade people to try your product and deliver key marketing communications whilst doing so. Staff can collate consumer opinions and answer any questions or concerns people may have.

Promotional vouchers can then be handed to the people who have just-that-minute, tried your product and (hopefully) already decided in their own heads that they like it enough to buy. How much more targeted can you get?

In-store promotions provide the simple mechanic for brands to drive volume sales. It has worked for as long as any of us can remember.

Unilever’s findings certainly point to the simple fact that consumers are swayed by marketing that speaks to them at the right time and when they are in the right mindset e.g. shopping.

To obtain the best results, brands should be driving trial alongside in-store promotions to create real engagement. Those who can deliver this type of activity successfully will have the competitive edge.

Hotcow have worked with a multitude of brands to create exactly this type of proposition. Using our knowledge, experience and insights, we have demonstrated the value of sophisticated sampling strategy.

Whether that customer likes the product enough to repeat purchase depends on quality and personal preference – but it sounds very much like social media can’t fill up the shopping trollies like a good old fashioned BOGOF!

Hotcow is a multi-award winning Experiential Marketing agency. We get brands in front of consumers in ways that persuade them to buy & become advocates. We fully implement our ideas; nothing needs to be farmed out. For more information or free consultation, contact us.

Leave a Reply