CPGmatters: Coke Activates Brands at Retail With Tests of Video Media

May 13, 2009

By Dale Buss

a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a
current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.

Coca-Cola and Meijer
learned tons about harnessing in-store video media for shopper marketing
from a test they ran a couple of years ago with Coca-Cola Classic. Now
both are expanding their respective in-store initiatives with different

Coke has been testing
in-store video with Wal-Mart Stores since last fall. Meijer is finishing
up an entire new in-store video network that will allow it to target areas
throughout its stores.

Specifically, Coke and
Meijer set up video screens at checkout, grocery, pet-care and pharmacy
during the holiday promotion. A primary clip involved the animatronic polar-bear "mascots" that
Coke is famous for bringing out for winter-holiday promotions. Another
motif simply featured ice-cold bottles of Coca-Cola Classic.

In a recent presentation,
Rob Fleener, Meijer’s vice president of marketing,
called the results "dramatic." High-single digit percentage gains
were directly tied to when and where the in-store network played the 15-
and 30-second clips. "Not only did it drive specific Coke sales, but
also the whole soft-drink category, although Coke benefited most," he

And Coke, Mr. Fleener added, considered the initiative "a very successful
program for them because the cost is relatively minimal even with a store-specific
program like that."

To Meijer, the test
showed the importance of using in-store video mainly to offer customers
"immediate gratification."

"A lot of other
things [in shopper marketing] are next-shopping-trip kinds of stuff," he
explained. "This program also didn’t ask people to buy more than they
were used to, or to try something unknown to them, or to switch brands.
This said to them, ‘It’s here; this is Coke; you know the taste; try it

Meijer and the Coca-Cola
representatives had also assumed that the video clip depicting the cuddly
polar bears having fun with Cokes would be more popular with shoppers.

"But the images
of the drink itself, with water glistening on the outside of the cold glass,
proved to be a much better driver," Mr. Fleener said.
"That was especially true as we continued the program after the holidays.
At that point, people were done with the polar bears and ready to move on."

Meijer is now attempting
to figure out the best departments for using in-store video and determining
the paths of least resistance to repeat success.

For example, fresh seafood
may be an area to get some in-store video treatment at Meijer. "Everyone
likes it and knows that it’s relatively good for you, prepared the right
way," Mr. Fleener explained. "But a
lot of people are just intimidated; ‘What do I do with a fish fillet? How
do I cook and prepare it?’

"If we can do things
[with in-store video] to help people overcome their apprehension of preparing
things that are good for them, then maybe we can get people to do things
they haven’t tried before."

Discussion Questions:
Will in-store video eventually become a primary consumer marketing tool
at retail? In what ways do you suspect the technology will prove to be
most useful and where will it prove to be more limited?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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11 Comments on "CPGmatters: Coke Activates Brands at Retail With Tests of Video Media"

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Joan Treistman
13 years 2 days ago

There’s a difference between a 30 second or 1 minute video with polar bears and five-minute dissertation on how to cook fresh seafood. The challenge is to counteract the consumer’s sense of urgency to leave the store.

Commercials at checkout (and did the shopper leave her place on line to buy the Coke?) with a captive audience has greater opportunity for engagement than a video (maybe mid broil) somewhere else in the store.

And yet I believe the store is a great venue for capturing the consumer’s attention and generating consideration for categories and brands. Testing as Coca Cola and Meijer have done paves the way to successful implementation. As long as the advertisers pay attention to patterns of behavior in store and how to add to the shopping experience positively, the strategy will be effective.

Steve Montgomery
13 years 2 days ago

Video as a customer communicative method has several attractive aspects (vivid color, sound, movement, etc.) and I expect it to play a growing role at retail as the cost of flat screens continues to drop. However, customers are time pressured and I don’t foresee many customers wanting to standing and watch a “how to” video screen in a store.

In our experience videos has worked best where the customer is not actively involved in shopping–a place where they are waiting for service or doing something that does not involve their full attention (at the gas island filling their car). The messages have been short, a mix of item/price and non-commercial, and entertainment.

David Zahn
13 years 2 days ago

My wholly unscientific belief is that the videos caught attention because they were unusual or different than what is typically seen in a store. The uniqueness captures attention. My fear is that if video monitors are placed throughout the store, the shopper will tune it out and come to view it as an unwanted distraction or “noise pollution.”

I am much more in favor of the shopper/consumer “opting-in” for the message as opposed to being blitzed by it and responding by tuning it. My concern is that it becomes like Times Square in NYC. Lots of lights, colors, movement–but aside from the spectacle of it, does anyone recall the ads?

I think video has a strong value and a place, but it has to be used judiciously and on demand rather than as a broadcast on a continuous loop.

I don’t have facts to back up my opinion, just a sense and intuition.

Cathy Hotka
13 years 2 days ago

Video is a highly effective sales and education medium which has been inexplicably absent from most retail stores. As CPG companies and retailers learn to harvest knowledge from pilots, expect more rich content in the store, and completely new ways of marketing products.

Edward Herrera
Edward Herrera
13 years 2 days ago

In-store video marketing is here to stay. It suggests, it reminds, it compels, it can maximize, and it is fairly unavoidable. I see in store video as the new “tie-in” merchandising. Products that can speak for themselves. Retailers need to target, manage, and measure the tactic but executed successfully, it could be powerful.

Gene Detroyer
13 years 2 days ago
There is nothing new regarding video in stores in this commentary that didn’t exist and wasn’t proven out 20 years ago. One wonders why this continues to sound like news. As I have written in this column many times, if a kid walks up and down the aisle yelling only “Heinz Ketchup,” the store will sell more Heinz Ketchup and more ketchup overall. Video in the store is a prompt to the consumer. If there is a price associated with it, there is a bigger prompt, but our research of 20 years ago of over 50 brands found the exact same type of responses. And, it is not surprising that the Coke bottle performed better than the cuddly bears, because the Coke bottle was a better prompt. Other findings from 20 years ago…Long form only works if it is in a department where the customer has to wait. Almost no supermarket shoppers were in the store for a “stroll in the park.” I suspect even few are today. The only sales that were directly generated… Read more »
Ben Sprecher
Ben Sprecher
13 years 2 days ago
There’s a delicate and complex balance to be struck between drawing shoppers’ attention vs. driving them to distraction; between motivating buying decisions vs. discouraging continued shopping; between and educating customers vs. annoying them. The very things that make video a great way to influence someone’s behavior (the unusual color, light, sound, and movement) are the things that make it likely to annoy, distract, and ultimately drive people away. And the more successful and pervasive it becomes, the less unusual and effective it will be. I’d be very interested to see *who* was influenced by the video to buy more Coke. Were they loyal Coke buyers who bought more than usual? Were they infrequent Coke buyers who suddenly felt the urge to buy this trip? Or were they non-buyers who bought their first Coke after seeing the video? And did their buying behavior change over time, or was it a one-time effect? The value of each of these types of consumers is very different to Coke, and the long-term impact on buying behavior will compound these… Read more »
Mark Lilien
13 years 1 day ago

I had to smile when I read Gene Detroyer’s comments. Here’s another skeptical question: will in-store videos raise the store’s sales and gross margin dollars overall? Or do the videos just switch the shopper to buy more of one thing and less of another?

It doesn’t pay for any retailer to sell more Coke but less Pepsi. From the store owner’s point of view, the profit is the same, so why do the work?

If videos really leveraged sales on their own, wouldn’t well-run stores use them only for higher-margin, higher priced items? Coke and other soft drinks aren’t in that category.

Or do videos really help sell low-price impulse items adjacent to the screens, so they’re best at the checkout for candy, batteries, etc.?

William Dupre
13 years 1 day ago

The P.R.I.S.M. data provided an interesting perspective on this topic. There are high traffic store parts with low shopper conversion and low traffic store parts with high shopper conversion.

There are two separate opportunities. First, use this type of media to drive traffic to the high shopper conversion areas. The issue isn’t getting someone to make a purchase, it’s driving them to that store section. The second is to target those messages in high traffic areas to drive shopper conversion. Without that data it’s hard to know which is which.

mike craig
mike craig
13 years 1 day ago
We at Mediatile have found that deploying screens at the shelf, or at the checkout counter, or at the end cap, can be extremely valuable in helping the retailer and the brand better communicate with the in-store audience. Key success factors include the timeliness and relevancy of content, the positioning of the screens, and the offer that is made available to the shopper. Beverage brands, for example, can now use messages that combine both local content and information to engage with the in-store shopper–a screen can be located near the checkout aisle with a message that says “Good Afternoon Dallas–It’s 102 degrees outside–pick up a six-pack of Fizzy Soda for the drive home–on sale on Aisle 3 for the next 10 minutes for only $1.99!” Our cellular digital signage solution works independently from the retailer’s IT system, which is a huge benefit for our clients. The ability to move screens in-store, via a rolling stand or moveable display, is another key feature. In-store video is here to stay. With the right combination of location, technology… Read more »
Laura Davis-Taylor
Laura Davis-Taylor
13 years 19 hours ago
As a person highly involved in these networks, the first thing to call out is that we have simply got to stop thinking of them as defacto video networks. In many cases, video is the least impactful mechanism for messaging on in-store digital signage, especially in areas of the store that are “drive by” rather than “high dwell.” Saatchi X confirmed our experience in this matter this week at the Strategy Institute’s digital signage creative summit when they shared that all we have is 2.6 seconds with digital messages to influence a brand decision. Is 2.6 seconds of video going to be the best method? Or, something much more simplistic and easy to embrace with a glance, like Flash? All of our experience points to the latter. Unless someone is in a high dwell area, thinking like POP on steroids is the better (and less expensive) approach. Another is that there are a hundreds of variables that drive whether a particular spot is and is not driving sales (or brand) impact. The store, the screen… Read more »

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