Think BR: Another shift in the balance of brand vs retailer power?
Brands looking for a greater share of sales control should think about digital coupons, writes Matt Butcher, director, PIMS-SCA.
Matt Butcher, director, PIMS-SCA
The latest developments from the supermarket giants make it painfully clear that retailers - not brands - continue to set the pace in the battle to convert online shopper interest into transactions at tills.
It almost seems as if brands are standing paralysed in the retailer headlights at a time when they could be using digital developments to reassert themselves.
With face-to-face customer access, grocery retailers have always held sway when it comes to owning and controlling customer purchase, largely ignoring individual brands in favour of managing whole categories.
In the days when brands’ only leverage was high spend TV, retailers held all the aces.
The advent of digital, however, should have levelled the playing field a little.
Increasingly, online is where customer journeys start and digital communication is relatively inexpensive.
With appropriate online strategies, it should be possible, even for modest brands, to plot customer journeys much earlier.
Good examples of brand creativity in digital do exist, but retailers rather than brands are in the ascendancy at the part of the customer journey that really matters - laying claim to the final purchase.
Brands have tended to migrate the old above the line objectives to the digital world - create interest, drive consideration, build walls of equity.
Online and offline retailers on the other hand are offering more in the way of digital activation tools that say ‘follow me’ or ‘get this great deal’ and of course ‘buy here, buy now’.
Recent developments really drive home this point. Tesco has announced the introduction of ‘limited time’ deals for Clubcard members.
Using its digital channels, it will create ‘flash sales’ that count down the time left for customers to treble the value of their Clubcard vouchers or to show how many ‘special deal’ products are left.
Via its data company DunnHumby Tesco has also acquired online word-of-mouth agency BzzAgent.
BzzAgent creates WOM campaigns by sending products and coupons to registered Buzz Agents who promote the products through their online friends and networks - and Tesco, of course, will call the shots when it comes to participating brands.
Across the retail sector mobile apps for smartphones abound, while significantly, in traditional couponing - an area where brands have historically exerted some influence of their own - grocery retailers are again wresting the initiative.
They are working with coupon clearance houses to create systems that will allow shoppers to upload brand coupons to existing loyalty cards like Nectar and Clubcard.
Faced with these challenges, brands - especially those without online sales channels - must work harder to turn mere consumer interest into intention to buy.
They could start by taking up some digital activation tools of their own, perhaps through secure digital coupons distributed online or via mobile.
They could set up tactical campaigns targeted at specific demographics by linking offers into social media sites such as Facebook.
They could be reacting to what competitors and retailers are up to, benefiting from the speed at which digital couponing can be implemented.
Too few brands are taking advantage of the benefits presented by tools such as digital couponing.
With the growth of sites such as Groupon, consumers are familiar with digitally distributed vouchers and there is no longer a stigma attached to getting a discount.
On the contrary; in fact, many consumers take pride in seeking out offers from brands they are interested in.
Several decades ago, when revolutionising warehousing and distribution, retailers took control of the supply side.
The fight now is for the demand side and online is the battleground.
Brands must exert a greater share of sales control and digital distribution of their own offers - and coupons are a good place to start.
Matt Butcher, director, PIMS-SCA
Latest jobs Jobs web feed
- Copywriter fishtank 25k to 40k per year GBP, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
- PR Account Director fishtank 40k to 55k per year GBP, Surrey
- Head of Marketing fishtank 45k to 60k per year GBP, United Kingdom
- Digital Search & Acquisitions Officer Topshop Up to £30,000 per annum + benefits, London
- planner > SHOPPER EVANGELIST > brilliant role for those SUITS looking to move across into PLANNING collectivo £30-40k + bens, London
- Marketing Executive Warner Bros £ Competitive + benefits, Holborn, London
Big Questions Live - Social Media, User Generated Content and the Power of Customer Insight (Webcast) External website
Brand Republic’s first ever online TV show, Big Questions Live wil...
The PR industry’s lack of success at the Cannes Lions festival 201...
Confused by hashtags? Tweetchats? Tweet walls? You’re not alone.Wi...
It’s fair to say we are truly in the age of content marketing, the...
As a nation, the UK is media and technology obsessed with over half of t...
All customers have the potential to become your brand advocates, driving...