Retail product marketers have straightforward goals: attract new customers, increase product sales and improve the brand’s awareness to drive recurring sales for their product or group of products. However, this is a challenging task in the current, tumultuous retail environment combined with a fragmented media environment. Many institutions that built and supported U.S. commerce for decades, like Sears, Macy’s and Toys “R” Us, have had to shut down a significant number of their locations or, in the case of Toys “R” Us, experienced full bankruptcy liquidation. As a result, new media options have pushed marketers to reinvent themselves to keep up with the demands and shopping considerations of today’s retail customer. We all know that brick-and-mortar retail has been transitioning towards digital executions over the past decade, while companies like Amazon and Walmart are paving the way in e-commerce. The lines separating traditional from online retail are disappearing. But marketers, don’t lose hope, there is still a proven marketing approach for driving retail sales with the right, carefully planned advertising campaign that guarantees ROI.
Advertising is different from what it was a decade or two ago. That said, offline and television advertising still remain key mediums that can build product awareness, engage consumers and sell products to targeted audiences, while also generating “brand lift” (an increase in audience or customer perceptions as a result of an advertising campaign) across the board. And whether we want to admit it or not, having a product appear in the intimacy of consumers’ living room so the large screen TV still makes a strong, positive impression that the brand is thriving and should be a part of their lives.
Savvy marketers today understand the importance of looking beyond sales lifts for individual products and toward increasing positive perceptions for an entire product line. Brand lift is a measure of “stickiness,” and this kind of big-picture approach can help marketers gain better awareness of campaign ROI and can support better decision-making. Brand lift is especially important to houseware and hardware brands because they produce lines of interconnected products, from kitchen appliances to vacuums and smart desks to blinds, flooring and cabinetry. This makes attributes around reliability, quality or reasonable pricing particularly important, because consumers associate these attributes to multiple products from a single company, making it essential that audiences have positive feelings about the brand itself.
The tricky part of measuring brand lift is that it’s basically a reflection of an audience’s feelings, perceptions and intent. These sentiments are tough to measure, whether they are opinions regarding the quality of a product or how likely a customer is to recommend a product to a friend. However, a marketer can measure the delivery of the advertising message across all channels and in the manner it chooses to launch and support a product. This is why TV still serves as the cornerstone for advertising campaigns. TV allows marketers to zoom out beyond “product X” by including messaging and content that speaks to the brand and the rest of the related products in the catalogue with the strongest, broadest audience delivery and single biggest impact across all nonlinear channels. This strategy can boost sales across all channels, extending reach across these channels, including products that are not featured in creative and media campaigns. The need for TV advertising being the sole factor in consumer reach is no longer exclusive. TV impacts all video, and as a result, allows consumers to engage across all channels and devices. TV creates an amplified “wall” of video and sound around the brand and down to the product.
A media model that measures the weight of TV with integrated extensions of reach, the right audience delivery and the right product messaging is the key to success in today’s retail economy. Marketers must test the right markets against control markets to assess the support of a specific product’s sale for select retailers. Those direct learnings should then be applied to extrapolate and forecast retail sales lift nationwide, along with the halo e-commerce sales lift. To effectively measure the impact of integrated reach, a marketer must also incorporate historical and seasonal retail sales data, by product or by retailer, so that sales baselines are established and measured pre- and post-media execution. Optimization should then be delivered and executed weekly to impact POS sales by constantly changing and improving the media strategy. With the right marketing partner, return on investment will be guaranteed for your media campaign.
Consider a houseware product line launched at major retailers, like Walmart, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot, as well as e-commerce giant, Amazon. For the measurement of the campaign in retail sales, let’s assume it had an equivalent 8:1 media efficiency ratio (MER), and the products in the campaign had more than 1,100 units per Target Ratings Point (TRP). Also, the brand sales lift for the products not featured in the creative went up by an extra 500+ units per TRP. For context, the TRP is defined as 1 percent of the targeted audience (not the total audience) that is reached by an advertisement, and it is a metric that helps us to understand the true impact of TV advertising. In this example, there’s a boost in non-advertised products that is typical of well-executed TV campaigns. Instead of utilizing a high-frequency strategy on smaller, targeted stations to execute longer creative length, the TV campaign was focused on high-value reach, high-profile national cable and broadcast stations driving strong TRPs and audience delivery. With this TV weight, digital messaging through retargeting video and rich video banner ads helped amplify the “wall” of video and product messaging driven by a strong TV execution.
Marketers shoring up their advertising strategies and planning for the year ahead should keep in mind that TV advertising is a strong and reliable driver of brand lift. Armed with the right strategic media, quality reach and frequency, brands can ensure that, just as a rising tide lifts all boats, so does featuring one product to benefit the other products in the line. It’s a rare one-two punch.
Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is CEO of Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency. Hawthorne has a long legacy of ad industry leadership and is a recognized champion of accountable advertising across all digital media channels. The agency employs a unique analytic video-centric marketing approach that applies the latest neuroscience-grounded principles and data-driven technology to develop highly strategic, measurable campaigns. Its combination of persuasive brand messaging with proprietary analytic systems has garnered billions in sales and achieved more than 500+ creative awards for its extensive list of Fortune 500 clients.