Call It Mobile Yellow

Scan these tags

I SPIED THE WHOLE grocery universe in a single bunch of fruit. This transcendental experience occurred just last week in West Des Moines, IA. (Quite rightly.)

It all happened in a bright, spacious HyVee supermarket in an upscale, verdant neighborhood that a decade ago was pretty much a cornfield. I entered the store thinking, “They built this, so I have come.”

But my Field of Dreams reverie dissolved when I stepped up to the produce department. My first view was an abundant display of bananas – the largest selling produce item in most supermarkets.

I pulled out my smartphone and snapped this picture, with the classic lyric by Donovan resonating in my brain like a prophetic soundtrack:

Electrical banana is gonna be a sudden craze
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase

You see, what really blew my mind were the two little stickers on this hand of bananas. On the left, a stacked UPC bar code and on the right a QR (quick response) 2D code. Each of these artifacts tells a little story about the impact of digital technology on our business. (Quite rightly)

The UPC bar code is of format known as RSS_14 designed to convey more information than old-style 9-digit codes. When I scan it with a gadget on my smart phone it correctly identifies the product as Dole bananas. Presumably the POS scanners in this HyVee supermarket are just as smart. The advantage: it saves the checker a few keystrokes and accurately enters the PLU (price look up) code for this variety of produce which is sold by weight.

The QR code on the right is used to direct shoppers to a web site called yonanas.com . When I scanned it with the same smart phone app, it led me to a page pitching a simple kitchen appliance that lets consumers make a soft-serve dessert from frozen ripe bananas and other fruit.

The Dole brand is featured prominently on the target Web page. Presumably there’s a deal behind it all. The Yonana appliance is marketed by Healthy Foods LLC, itself a division of Winston Products LLC in Cleveland, Ohio.

Peering at my smartphone screen under the fluorescent lights in that immaculate HyVee store in one of the greenest places in America, I found myself thinking, “It really has come to this: agricultural and digital have converged in America’s heartland.”

Then the digital banana concept set off a minor cascade of linguistic play: Bananas come in hands… Digit is Latin for finger… Smart phones are made with gorilla glass… (Quite rightly)

So in tribute to Donovan, the iconic Sunshine Superman inducted this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I’d like to offer this (somewhat less lilting) variation on his theme:

Digital banana is gonna be a sudden craze
Digital banana is bound to be the very next phase
I call it mobile yellow (Quite rightly)
© Copyright 2012 James Tenser

A Web of Truths

WATCH OUT, Shopper Marketers! You may find yourselves entangled in a web of truths of your own making.

It all began innocently enough; in 2005 when brand marketing behemoth Procter & Gamble advanced a provocative set of ideas around what it called the first and second moments of truth. Thanks to some savvy and persistent promotion, the terminology caught on fast:

  • FMOT, the first moment, refers to the brief period when a shopper selects a desired product in the store.
  • SMOT, the second moment, refers to the at-home consumption experience associated with that product.

Within the then-nascent Shopper Marketing community, this framework was a minor revelation. For brand marketers, FMOT gave credence to the argument that real marketing persuasion needed to be extended from measured media into the shopping environment. The store, it was discovered, shelters a separate marketing reality, where pre-purchase leanings are transformed into final choices.

Shopper Marketing defined a path to purchase that commences with media-induced product awareness and proceeds to interest, formation of intent, and ends with product selection at the shelf, FMOT. Once home, SMOT, or the actual product experience, takes place influencing subsequent decisions.

FMOT/SMOT was a pretty handy framework at first. But the concurrent rise of digital out of home and mobile media conspired to make things a lot more complicated, fast. The path to purchase, it turns out, is littered with hundreds of moments – text messages, in-store video ads, Web search, service encounters, Facebook apps, twitter feeds, QR codes and downloadable coupons, to name a few.

Stuck in the Moments

A few weeks ago the gleefully disruptive folks at Google seized the opportunity to coin a new Moment of Truth and promote it hard. They call it Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT. Its premise is that interactions with search, Web, social and mobile price and product research media create a third type of online decision-making moment. The concept is a bit self-serving coming from the world’s largest seller of online advertising, but it has attracted much commentary and attention.

Almost immediately, new Moments starting appearing like so many pop-up windows on an e-commerce Web site.

In his post, “What is missing from moments of truth marketing”, blogger Joel Rubinson argues for the existence of “minus one” moments of truth that include such influences as word of mouth, in-store product visibility, and various types of advertising. Most interestingly, he proposes that these -1MOTs may occur in any sequence relative to FMOT and SMOT.

Joel’s point about the non-linear nature of the Moments of Truth is worthy of frequent repetition. Product experience is certainly a web of moments, not a fixed linear sequence. Call it WOT (Web of Truths)?

On the very same day and from an independent thought process, blogger David Berkowitz proposed adding “The Infinite Moment of Truth” to the model, which reflects his excellent observation that consumers may well describe their product and service experiences to others, relaying and amplifying the message beyond the scope and control of the marketer.

Bon MOTs

I applaud David for extending this Shopper Marketing discussion from the path-to-purchase toward the path-to-loyalty. A good thing, really, since the linkages are powerful and real. It made me think about Fred Reicheld’s 2006 book, The Ultimate Question, which proposed that genuine loyalty was best judged by an individual’s likelihood to recommend a product or service to others. Social media can super-charge this potential.

Both bloggers are smart, experienced people I know for some years and their ideas are intelligent and worthy of respect. But I must confess to an impish reaction that led me to ponder: Just how many bon MOTs can one industry handle? ZMOT; FMOT; SMOT; Rubinson’s -1MOT; Berkowitz’s IMOT…

At risk of attracting ridicule, my imp compels me to toss another acronym into the mix: XMOT, the eXtended Moment of Truth. It’s my way of stretching the Web of Truths a bit wider – not quite to infinity, but toward its potential to help us understand the multifaceted tangle of influences each person receives, reflects and responds to in their roles as shoppers, consumers, and friends.

© Copyright 2011 James Tenser

Social Media? – Nah, It’s Personal

New way to a shopper’s heart?

ALL THE RECENT chatter about “social media for business” is driving me around the bend.

For some time now, I’ve been searching for a terminology that would rescue us from imprecision and allow a meaningful business conversation to take place around the impact of smart phones within the retail environment.

At the National Retail Federation Conference and Expo two weeks ago in New York, the presentations and pitches frequently turned to the impact of social and mobile media, and I kept cringing every time I heard it. Here’s why it bugs me so much:

When new business phenomena have arisen in retail marketing, sloppy terminology frequently led to poor initial understanding of the business opportunity. Often it is due to a choice of words laden with confusing prior connotationor the absence of a suitable term.

We sometimes used “consumer” and “shopper” interchangeably; now we distinguish between those two customer roles. We spoke of “manufacturers” or “vendors” before the term “brand marketer” was introduced in the mid-90s. A deficient thought vocabulary renders some concepts virtually unthinkable.

In Your Facebook

Today, most of the marketers and solution vendors obsessed with “social media” are in fact formulating new ways of delivering one-on-one messages to targeted shoppers and attempting to influence what they do and say on social networking sites. It’s undeniable that one particular application Facebook happens to be used heavily for social play and sharing of consumer lore. Marketers are dazzled by the massive “audience” it has accumulated and are salivating to exploit the opportunity. How fortunate for Facebook investors.

But setting up corporate pages on Facebook or Twitter does not a strategy make. Indeed the existence of these pages implies a broadcast mentality from us to them. Despite the open visibility of customer comments on the wall, there seems to be relatively little interaction between consumers on these pages. Old comments get quickly buried behind newer ones, and only our social media hired guns bother to track and analyze them – in reports calculated to justify their existence.

Regardless of the channel, shopping is primarily about each individual’s personal success get the best deals; satisfy my needs most efficiently; manage my budget; impress my friends; etc. When a shopper turns to his or her personal mobile device to access tools to enhance in-store success, it’s a very personal action motivated by very understandable self-interest.

Getting Personal

I submit that when it comes to tapping shoppers via those pocket two-way radiowave computers we call smartphones, there’s very little “social” about it. It’s not social – it’s personal.

If we conceive of the mobile device as a personalized channel for interaction between retailers or brands with individual shoppers or consumers, then we would do well to set aside the imprecise term “social media” and start talking shop. These new media are personal media. Much of what happens on them may be social in nature, but everything that happens on them is personal.

The personal mobile device is taking shape as a personal nexus, where online, in-store, social, and commercial communications converge in unique combinations tailored by and for each individual. Each of us shifts roles at will, according to our objectives of the moment – searcher, receiver, reporter, sender, aggregator, re-transmitter, gatekeeper, purchaser, advisor.

Businesses that hope to play effectively in this incredibly fluid and fast-changing media environment had best get their minds around the personal nature of the shopper experience using mobile devices. When we discuss our strategy for personal media, the marketing mindset shifts in what I think is a constructive direction. Better decisions and practices must surely follow.

As for me, I have nothing against online friendships; but when it comes to business you may count me as anti-social. My reasons? Well, they’re personal.

© Copyright 2011 James Tenser

The Value Pyramid of Shopper Media

Measurement schemes are coming thick and fast from various groups claiming to have the last word on measurement of shopper media. At last count at least three groups were competing over this:

The P.R.I.S.M. (Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric) project, originally organized by the In-Store Marketing Institute (www.instoremarketer.org) in 2006, has been an important catalyst for the marketplace. Now in phase II, a 26-week market test, the stated goal is to develop an “in-store GRP” or gross rating point, aimed at a identifying a comfortable metric for the media buying establishment. With strong support from Nielsen In-Store and numerous large brand marketers and ad agencies, P.R.I.S.M. is a leadership voice in establishing a standard for store-level data.

Not to be outdone, OVAB, the Out-of-home Video Advertising Bureau, (www.ovab.org) released its Audience Metrics Guidelines report in August. The report advocates an “average unit audience” principle for measuring digital media in various physical settings that incorporates both opportunities to see and variable units of viewing time appropriate to each viewing context.

POPAI, the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute, which bills itself as the “global association for marketing at retail,” (www.popai.com), released its report, Digital Signage. The Global Study. Opportunities and Risks in August in conjunction with the German association, GIM (Gesellschaft für innovative Martkforschung). The scope is broad – on the global digital out-of-home (DOOH) marketplace, and the focus is again largely on audience measurement.

In addition, Digital Signage Today (www.digitalsignagetoday.com) released a sponsored report, Measurement and analysis for digital signage, that explores audience measurement and proposes a multi-tier way of looking at in-store ad value, encompassing proof of ad delivery, proof of audience delivery and sales uplift. There’s promise in this approach, I think.

All these measurement studies attempt to bring welcome rigor to the realm of shopper media metrics. It’s widely understood now that simply counting the number of people who walk in the front door of a store does not adequately document an audience. Nor does it come close to reflecting its value to advertisers using an in-store network. P.R.I.S.M. has introduced a useful scheme for dividing a retail store into messaging “zones” or channels corresponding to merchandise departments and high-traffic power alleys. This is a welcome refinement versus a people-counter at the front door, but I think it’s only a step toward the ultimate requirement, a sales and ROI sensitive measurement system.

Audience metrics are necessary, but not sufficient. The Shopper Media ROI Pyramid, pictured here, presents a conceptual framework for a more robust value metric:

O2C: At the base are “opportunities to see” – communications that have reach and frequency only. This is what the PRISM initiative has learned how to measure in Cost Per Thousand Impressions. This is a metric best expressed in some analog to gross rating points (GRP). It reflects how many messages are sent and the theoretical size of their audience. O2Cs are cheap and plentiful – and, like “traditional” media, linked tenuously to actual sales lift.

View: Next up are views that can be actually proved. Some current shopper media are capable of metering actual views through use of electric-eye people counters, embedded cameras, shopping carts with embedded RFID tags, digital image analyses, etc. This is a “page view” metric, to use a Web metaphor – greater in number than O2C but still relatively low in individual value.

Do: Next up the scale are communications that stimulate some kind of interaction that might precede a sale. This may include pressing a touch screen for further information, taking a coupon or “take-one”, trying a sample. This is a “click-through” metric, fewer in number but of greater value to marketers.

Buy: Next up the pyramid are communications that may be directly related to product trial or sale. This “purchase” metric will be more scarce, but even more valuable.

Loyal Behavior: At the pinnacle are in-store communications that contribute not just to a single purchase but to enduring affective and behavioral change. We call this loyalty, and it is rarest and dearest of all. Loyalty may only be detected by a marketer with a plan – a frequent shopper card program or other longitudinal tracking mechanism capable of linking together multiple purchase events by the same shopper.

As a marketer, I would require that all these layers be measured and modeled so that I can truly understand the ROI of my in-store communications. As a retailer hosting these messages, I would require that I get paid in accordance to the value delivered at each of these levels. As an in-store network operator, I would seek a way to justify compensation at each level as well. As a brand marketer, I would pay almost any price for provable sales ROI metrics and probably donate a vital organ for reliable proof of loyal purchase behavior.

My opinion? Opportunities to see are a poor proxy for measuring sales lift and repeat purchase behavior. I’m unimpressed by in-store GRPs and believe shopper marketers will require direct ROI measures. If this prospect makes the media buying establishment feel a bit queasy, I say get over it. It’s a digital world. Sampling and averages reflect outdated, analog thinking.

© Copyright 2008 James Tenser