In store activities are a precious resource to offer consumers the opportunity to personally test products and understand their features and benefits
By Tiziana Corti
FMV Instore is an important operator in Italy and Europe for field marketing activities. Established in 1998, this company has specialized in the Information Technology market by providing innovative services for the consumer channel. We asked to the account manager, Sara Romito, to tell us what field marketing is and how it can be applied successfully to small appliances.
How does Instore operate and what are the company’s values?
Research of the highest quality, constant innovation of processes and of working methods and technology applied to every stage of service creation are the fundamental values that enable Instore to offer to the most prestigious consumer electronics vendors advanced activities of: in-store promotions , merchandising, sales force, trainer and mystery client.
How is organized an effective field marketing strategy?
The first step to take is to set goals, possibly numerical and measurable, through the identification of specific KPI (key performance indicators) shared at the corporate level. Some indicators can be, for example, the number of generated qualified contacts, the attempted sales, and purchases made during the promotional day, collected on a weekly and monthly basis. At this point it is essential to identify the target of the activity, to whom planned in-store marketing initiatives will be addressed actually, the channels to be used and the mode of interaction to use with the consumer. The more the strategy will be clear, detailed and “visionary”, the more we will be able to be effective and to maximize the ROI (Return on investment). An aspect absolutely not to be neglecting is the importance of the quality of human resources chosen for the field marketing activities, the real critical factor for any successful planning. The competence, proactivity and reliability of promoter brand specialists, merchandisers, sales reps and trainers play a primary role in the success of the in-store marketing activities. For this reason, a good planning must necessarily include energy and time devoted to a through selection and effective training of field marketing staff. FMV Instore has created a unique of its kind selection system that is based on three distinct phases of assessment, and proposes innovative path of staff training and development, in classroom and on-line, continuous in time.
What are the costs and commitments for the trade operators?
The field marketing activities are usually planned and agreed with the vendors; anyway it is possible to create alternative solutions directly driven by the trade, through personalized partnership with the agency. The costs vary depending on the type of service required and on the desired cover, for this reason the most suitable choice is to study ad hoc solutions case by case. FMV Instore follows every stage of the production process of the service, from the selection to the operational management of the field, so the required commitment for the vendor or to the trade operator is minimal. The distinctive feature of an excellent cooperation at this point becomes a sharing of values and goals, and a careful monitoring of the obtained results.
And what targets can be achieved by putting in place a series of in store activities specifically dedicated to a singular sector? Are there some measurement methods of the returns?
The results that can be obtained from a structured planning of field marketing are substantial, both in terms of brand awareness and image, and in terms of sell-out. The average increase in sales through in-store marketing operations in the consumer electronics sector is about +40%, value which can be even doubled in case of new product launches, continuous activities and special initiatives such as the “shop in shop”. The best method to measure the returns of a field marketing activity is to compare the sales in the focus shops with those of a test panel of similar shops for size and turnover and in which, in the same unit of time, there are not in-store activities. It is also possible to schedule targeted visits of “mystery” clients to test the preparedness and competence of the staff employed or making market research to test consumer and trade response to a particular promotional operation.
Speaking of a segment as the small appliance for the kitchen, today present in many channels, also very different among them, what are the elements that could bring out the offer in store?
The elements that can bring out the offer of small appliance are essentially two: interactivity and display management. In a more and more chaotic distribution context characterized by high competitive pressure, what matters most is “to seduce” the customer showing practically how the product works and what are the distinctive features compared to the competitors’ product. The consumer is still interested in seeing and touching a working product, and is increasingly fascinated by the social sharing and by playful dimension of the purchase. For this reason a live demo supported by a qualified brand promoter specialist is undoubtedly one of the most meaningful ways to bring out the small appliance in the store. Equally important is making the offer visible through a “smart & cool” management of the display, playing on light and colors, placing appealing POP materials and creating emotional journeys and stages through the use of QR codes.
According to your experience, in which distribution channels are the products of this sector presented in an effective way and where, on the contrary, would they deserve more attention and space?
The encouraging sales results of the first quarter of 2016, especially regarding the care of the house, launch positive signals on the trade’s ability to optimize the methods of products presentation. More space and attention should anyway be devoted in retail chains, where there are still great margins for improvement.
What are the most suitable marketing activities to bring out the small appliances for the kitchen in the store?
The most suitable activities are certainly training, merchandising and activities of in-store promotions. These three levers work in a different manner but synergistically on small appliances for the kitchen, going to expand the opportunities of a so unique product. The specializing trainer of FMV Instore accurately train the sales staff of the shops, going to build strong relationships with local realities and emphasizing the benefits of products and the most effective sales techniques. Knowledge, affection and familiarity of our product, make salespeople real “Ambassador” of the brand, increasing sales up to 70% in 3 months of activity. The advanced merchandiser of FMV Instore periodically visits shops going to place stickers, tower, flyers and other POP materials on the shelves, so as to emphasize the offer and make it more visible and attractive to the final consumer. The merchandiser also conducts benchmarking activities of the competitors, taking prices and displays, and photo shoots when authorized, to the displays. In this way, the vendor has the possibility of creating a concrete and realistic vision of what happens on the market, although he cannot always be physically present on the territory. The brand promoter specialist of FMV Instore is the meeting point between the product and the consumer, a qualified and highly professional support able to lead the buying process towards a product of the Vendor client. Even in an historical time in which connection and technology are gaining more and more space and importance, according to our experience, the physical presence of a “guide” that with courtesy, education and sympathy explains product features and benefits, tailoring them to the different purchase motivations of the target, is still the key element that can make a difference.
Should the initiatives be differentiated on the basis of the channel (for example, a generalist chain or a specialist one)?
Certainly they should. Generalist and specialist retailers are two completely different channels with different positive characteristics and improvement areas. The specialist chains are characterized by a greater variety of display, biggest choice for consumers and more competitive pressure for the vendors. In this channel it becomes essential the ability to stand out with activities and emotional and creative POP materials. Here, interactive events work very well, as well as shop in shops and visual communication. The other king of chains, in contrast, are more generalist, and usually need more information to support the customer. Consequently, communication becomes more objective and less spectacular, is played more on kinesthetic and auditory modes.