Interview: Creating engagement at Retail – Julia Collis, N2O

JC pink backgroundAs an agency with high profile retail clients including Tesco and Superdrug, we often get asked what N2O is doing that makes it stand out for retail experiences and what we can learn from them. So FMBE put the questions to Julia Collis, Head of Client Services at creative brand experience agency, N2O. 

What are the advantages of retail experiences with nationwide reach?

Retail experiences create brand awareness which goes beyond brand recognition. You’ll develop relationships and authentic connections with consumers by getting boots on the ground. Activations in-store drive word-of-mouth, spreading your brand’s message beyond one singular experience.

They also help you connect non-intrusively with consumers in the right place at the right time – where they shop, work, live and play. Engaging customers in their comfort zone and on their terms makes them more likely to respond, resulting in more impressions and increased ROI. Plus, allowing shoppers to “try before they buy” can significantly impact sales. For example, 80% of people say that live demonstrations and free samples significantly help define their purchasing decision.*

As a bonus – retail experiences play well with other forms of marketing. Pair a highly shareable in-store activation with a social media campaign, for example, and you’re broadening your reach to an even wider audience and generating unique consumer content.

What are the key triggers of shopper engagement and excitement?

Interactivity is crucial. Unique experiences with elements of play that create a buzz and draw a crowd naturally breed excitement and engagement. Using creative innovation to whip up out-of-the-box activations gives customers brand experiences they can’t miss out on.

Personalisation is a fantastic way to excite shoppers. It helps them feel valued by the brand, driving long-term loyalty. Then rewarding that loyalty within the community – giving something for nothing – helps to draw people back time and again.

Of course, these points are all well and good, but only if the experience is relevant to them. Use insights to pinpoint your audience and understand their needs, fears and motivators, and you’ll see higher engagement and excitement as your activations feel personal to them.

What can a grocery brand do to make sure that a sampled product creates purchases for its brand and not for a competitor?

Most people in society seek convenience and instant gratification. With the advent of technology, especially the iPhone and Amazon, where convenience and instant gratification is the norm, our consumers expect immediate payback too.

Tapping into this with brand experiences allows sampled products to drive impulse purchases as opposed to reaching for a competitor on the shelf behind. Use these experiences to highlight the product’s USPs by showcasing quality, health benefits or ethical practices, if appropriate. In addition, gifts with purchases are a great incentive to drive sales for the brand rather than the category.

Creating a solid brand presence in-store is equally important. Eye-catching campaign elements throughout the store will outshine competitor brands, increasing the chance of being the go-to choice for shoppers.

Keeping those connections formed in-store alive post-campaign helps brands to maintain the top spot. For example, nurturing shopper relationships with a follow-up thank you, a NOMP coupon or extra information about the product sampled keeps brands fresh in customers’ minds when considering future purchases.

However, category growth (including competitors) does have its advantages. First, it draws consumers to the category in the first place. Our job (on behalf of the brand) is to find ways to engage and excite the audience to stand out.

How does N2O help brands maximise results and report benefits post-event?

Incentivising shoppers alongside a fantastic experience helps to maximise measurable results. For example, gift-with-purchase mechanics often see sales increases of at least 20%. Instant win games with a desirable headline prize also see this growth too.

Face-to-face experiences, which allow customers to try brands for free when they’re ready to shop, see purchases boosted to upwards of 40%.

N2O acts as the go-between for brands and retailers, sharing and interpreting retailer sales data to track post-campaign effectiveness. Alongside leveraging hard sales data, we’ve developed a data collection process to gather on-the-ground anecdotal consumer feedback with real-time insights, which is like gold dust and is hugely informative for brand-building development.

Our sales data is highly detailed, from demographics to average transaction value. Plus, we tap into loyalty card data to garner insight into repeat purchasing habits. Finally, looking at the sample conversion rate metric lets us evaluate the effectiveness of how the experiences drive sales for our clients.

We measure the cost of acquiring a new customer through each sampling campaign. This data allows us to evaluate the overall ROI to guide brands’ future budget decisions.

Our data process and insights reporting always include a learnings section that captures key findings about the effectiveness of each experience and recommendations for next time, thereby refining and enhancing future campaigns for that brand.


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