Thursday, July 17, 2008

Retailtainment - putting you in the mood to buy.

With the anticipated launch of the Apple Flagship store in Sydney, last month, we we're discussing the role retail plays in the channel planning process. This got me thinking about a term which I came across back in the UK [when I was working on the Nokia business] and looking at ways of showcasing the features of the Nokia NSeries range instore. Defined as 'Retailtainment', this spoke volumes about the importance entertainment plays in sustaining the dialogue consumers have with brands right to the point when money is exchanged with the sales representative at retail.

In his book, Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption (1999), author George Ritzer describes "retailtainment" as the "use of ambience, emotion, sound and activity to get customers interested in the merchandise and in a mood to buy.”

If we think about OMD’s Checkmate Framework– apertures are essentially the times our customers are most likely to be in the mood to buy. The criteria below may help identify Retailtainment at its best:

· Must be Entertaining
· Gets you to interact with the brand
· Enriches the consumer journey
· Converts from Awareness to Sales.
· Leaves you wanting more.

What does Retailtainment consist off and which brands in the world are doing this best? In the book, The Experience Economy, Pine & Gilmore demonstrate how a coffee bean can be graduated up four stages of value from a commodity (at $1 per pound) to an experience at $5 per cup, by enveloping the actual purchase of coffee into distinct experience.

When does brand experience become retailaiment and when is it just a way of generating brand awareness?
The following quadrant map plots out these differences to help us understand the role media must play to influence these two territories.

Having identified the difference between brand experience and retailtainment, we can begin to plot out the channel selection to help enliven the path to purchase so that the journey is as stimulating as the retail experience at the end of the road.

Since being founded in 1964 Nike has, in partnership with agency Wieden & Kennedy, consistently been one of the world’s most creative & innovative companies. Throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s they set the agenda for dynamic & influential marketing via legendary campaigns for Air Jordan, Air Max & many more. Over the last 10 years Nike has continued to innovate by extending its brand identity & experience into its retail environments.

For its 2002 World Cup sponsorship, Nike’s creative campaign was led by a global 90sec TVC showing competing teams of football superstars playing ‘Scorpion Knock Out’, a dramatic variation on traditional football played in a menacing arena. Nike extended this idea into their retail stores around the world by constructing 30ft x 80ft cages in which local youths could compete in their own 3-against-3 Scorpion games. This activity remains one of the most effective examples of a creative campaign being extended through the line all the way into the retail environment.

Most recently, the NIKEiD project enables consumers to design their own shoes. This can be done at either or in the NIKEiD design studios in select Nike stores around the globe. Customers can mash up any number of styles, fabrics & colours to create their own personalised Nike’s. In some stores the behind-the-scenes laboratory construction of the shoes is then broadcast on external plasma window displays for passers-by to enjoy. For everyone from sneaker freakers to kids this makes for a hugely immersive & entertaining retail experience.

Activities such as these continually reinforce Nike’s credentials as an innovator & yield a genuinely 360 consumer experience, where purchasing a pair of trainers becomes just as involving & entertaining as the campaigns created to promote them.

OMD’s point of view is that once you understand how the dimensions of retail and brand experience fit together, you need to understand how the client’s brand can fit into the retailtainment quadrant. We think there are many different ways of approaching this which might depend for example on whether you are working on a service brand, a product brand or a retail brand.

St George bank (which we can consider as a service brand for our purposes here) is currently using a successful strategy in Victoria where they are a relative newcomer. They have moved off TV and mass media to a grass roots strategy and they have invested in a St George ice cream van which goes around Melbourne dispensing free ice creams and building the St George brand. The challenge for them is to make sure that the ice cream van does translate to product sales somehow.

Product brands face the problem that they usually don’t control their own retail experience – often Woolies or Coles will be botching it for them and making sure they’re seen as a pure commodity. Brands such as Levis, Nescafe, Cadbury, Lipton’s and more have taken retail into their own hands so they can control their own experience. It can be quite feasible for a product brand to extend its retail channels and take them to the consumer (through for example pop up stores, online or new distribution channels), although in recommending this one has to be aware of contracts with retailers which may prevent direct sales of the product. One of our skincare clients has a site in the US where they have begun to sell direct online and it represents a great advance in retailtainment compared to the supermarket where it’s normally sold. Part of the challenge in recommending new retailtainments to our clients is to make sure they see it either as a brand experience with retail benefits, or a distribution channel with brand experience benefits. If it falls between two stools it can often be too hard.

Retail brands, i.e. retailers themselves have the most control over the customer experience. But conversely in Australia it seems that they have the biggest challenges keeping up with the rest of the world in retailing best practice. Our client Telstra recently opened another T-Life store in Melbourne to go with the one in Sydney opposite the Apple store. When our clients do build these retailtainment experiences, our job is to close the gap between the client’s mass media and the instore experience. How do we get as many people as possible in through the door, how do we sell it as an amazing experience worthy in its own right of attending? Our perception is certainly that Australians are excited by great retailtainment concepts and that PR, ambient and branded content could play a heavy role in this instance.

Ultimately, it does feel like Australia is well behind in the area of retailtainmet, but with more case studies demonstrating the impact of this arena, surely we are on the verge of a brave new world of retailing.

1 comment:

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