Advertising has crept into every nook and cranny of America. Movie theaters force us to sit through endless commercials before we’re allowed to watch the dang movie, (for which we’ve paid quite handsomely, I might add). Leave your car in a business district and it’s sure to be wallpapered with annoying fliers. Some schools even blatantly promote products in student hallways.
The worst offender, however, has to be grocery stores, where we’re bombarded with advertising from the moment we park our cars. (Some supermarkets are testing ads painted directly onto parking-lot stripes.)
Before we discuss the various forms of in-store advertisements, however, let’s clarify a few terms.
TYPES OF SHOPPERS
The variety of grocery-store advertising can partially be attributed to customers’ different shopping styles. These include the follow five types of shoppers.
1. Traditionalists compile detailed lists and spend 140 minutes in the store each week. Home is the first point of contact. Traditionalists are 32 percent of all shoppers.
2. Strivers make up 23 percent of shoppers, have hectic schedules and shop as fast as possible. They’d like to be more organized shoppers but tend to make many unplanned trips to the store.
3. Anti-Shoppers just don’t enjoy shopping. They comprise 21 percent of shoppers.
4. Stressors are disorganized shoppers who say they’d really like to get organized but rarely do so. They total 16 percent of shoppers.
5. Casual Spenders aren’t as concerned about the bottom line at the checkout as other shoppers. They make up 7 percent of shoppers.
Grocery marketers also base their advertising methods on the paths consumers follow throughout the store. A recent study by the Wharton School Marketing Department challenged many perceptions of "shopper travel behavior" in supermarkets, including ideas related to special promotion displays, aisle trafficb and "perimeter shopping patterns." The authors identified four distinct grocery store travel paths during short, medium and long shopping trips.
1. Grocery shoppers don't work their way up and down all aisles.
Marketers used to think shoppers went up and down every aisle, working from one side of the store to the other. Actually, most shoppers only travel specific aisles and rarely in an up and down pattern.
2. Shoppers rarely make it to the other end of an aisle.
Instead, they travel by quick dodges into and out of the aisle, rather than walk its entire length.
3. Shoppers prefer to work counter-clockwise.
Consumers tend to shop more quickly as they approach the checkout counters. Their behavior is driven more by their location in the store than the merchandise in front of them.
4. The perimeter of the store is actually the shopper's home base.
The “racetrack,” which includes produce, dairy, meat and bakery items, is now understood to serve as the main thoroughfare, effectively a home base from which shoppers take quick trips into the aisles.
FORMS OF ADVERTISING
All of this information has fed into supermarkets advertising plans, which many of us now barely notice. These methods include the following.
1. Coupon Machines
On-shelf coupons reward consumers with immediate cents-off savings and product details. Other “shelf talkers” offer recipes, rebates, prescription-drug information, sweepstakes forms and other promotional offerings.
2. Floor Talkers
How often do you walk across an advertisement on the floor and really pay attention? Apparently marketers believe these giant floor ads are pounding product information into our skulls, but I think we’ve learned to ignore them.
3. Grocery Cart Signage
Shopping carts are the very first thing we reach for and the last thing we put away. That’s why ads now cover the handles, child seats and backs of the carts.
4. Grocery Separator Advertising
Colorful grocery separators are "interactive mini-billboards placed between like products, such as meats, cheeses, etc. They catch your eye as you reach for that packet of pork, perhaps influencing your decision as to which brand you’ll select.
5. Cash Register Receipt Advertising
Also known as catalinas, these coupons are printed out with your receipt at checkout and usually are related to the purchases you just made. For example, if you’e purchased the store brand of cranberry juice, you may receive a catalina coupon offering a reduced price on Ocean Spray cranberry juice.
6. In-Store Demonstration/Sampling
Samples are an advertising form that has been around for many years. Product pushers set up a table at end of the aisle where the item is sold. In addition to giving you a taste of their food, these marketers often hand out brochures and coupons.
7. Television Loop Advertising
Ever tried “not” watching TV when it’s placed directly in front of you? The noise generated by these checkout and mid-store television advertisements, however, can make the shopping experience even more unpleasant.