In-Store Sales Begin Online

The Wall Street Journal reports that more consumers are researching their shopping lists online before heading to the store in order to find the best deals. This means that marketers should start shifting away from in-store marketing, the practice of using flashy displays and special promotions to try to influence consumers’ buying decisions while they shop, if they want to impact consumer buying behavior.

“This isn’t just about cardboard displays anymore—you need to accommodate the way shoppers behave now, and that means advertising online and in stores,” says Dina Howell, chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi X, an in-store marketing unit of Publicis Groupe SA.

While consumers have traditionally looked online to research big-ticked items like electronics and major appliances, the recession has made shoppers start seeking out everyday products online, too. According to consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail, more than 20 percent of consumers research food and beverages, about 30 percent research pet products and 39 percent research baby items, even though they tend to buy these products at brick-and-mortar stores.

These findings have  led to the rise of targeting customers through social media sites, blogs and advertising campaigns on retail Web sites, in addition to in-store ad campaigns. Today, most campaigns intertwine digital components into their in-store marketing, whether by encouraging online reviews, inviting social media feedback or offering coupons on brand websites.

The new emphasis on digital advertising has proved challenging for food and household brands, which usually aren’t as technologically advanced as electronics and apparel companies. Still, there is enormous incentive for these brands to catch up with digital marketing, especially since 62 percent of shoppers report searching for deals online for at least half of their shopping trips, according to a survey by consulting firm Booz & Co. and trade group Grocery Manufacturers Association.

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The rise of the informed, tech-savvy shopper has led more grocers and household goods retailers to leverage the power of online advertising, Facebook promotions, and text messages to complement their in-store displays and print circulars.

While there is no single marketing formula to satisfy all consumers, the focus is now on hitting all of the media channels, from online advertising to print to television, to ensure that the marketing message reaches and resonates to its fullest extent.

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