Don't be scared to make a sale
With the launch of virtual checkouts at Gatwick airport over summer, Tesco becomes the latest brand to jump on the retail experiential bandwagon. The purely promotional experience can now have a more direct commercial agenda, where brands can - and indeed should - use the increased emotional connection as an opportunity to sell product direct to the consumer, says Sally Alington, managing director at Blackjack Promotions.
Experiential and retail have always existed closely together. In-store promotional activity is nothing new, although amazing innovation continues to take place in this field, and the pop-up shop was at one point so fashionable it almost became a marketing cliché. But the pop-up shop has begun to converge with the promo activation to the point where we are seeing a growing number of commercially minded activations. Like all the best ideas, it makes perfect sense in hindsight. You wow the consumer with a rewarding brand experience, impress them on a sensory level, and then grab the opportunity to sell some product right there and then while their interest is at its peak.
Retail experiential doesn't always have to be digital focussed. Last year Gatwick played host to the toy company Fisher Price. Airports are not known for being child friendly, and many airports during the summer months are dominated by the background noise of grizzling children. The idea of Fisher Price sponsoring a crèche is a natural brand fit, but Fisher Price took the idea one step further. A retail element was added to the creche facility whereby parents, who were probably grateful and relieved from the respite of grumpy children, could purchase the toys that had kept their children entertained.
Since 2008, Blackjack has worked with World Duty Free to connect brands with passengers at five airports across the UK using an experience called 'Contentainment'. This blend of content and entertainment has brought a theatrical element to in-store promotions and over the years the integration of digital technology and live experiences has developed to delight the passenger shopper. Use of Contentainment has delivered proven incremental sales results, so it makes sense for brands and retailers to take this a step further, and integrate retail into the experience.
The airport terminal is a natural environment for this kind of activation. Yes, they're expensive, and come with a number of restrictions, but on the plus side - and this is a big plus - in the airport environment it is possible to target a consumer audience in a way that just isn't possible in a more public environment like a shopping centre or local park. At the most basic level, this could be explained by targeting families during the summer holiday season and corporate travellers at the beginning of the day, but this consumer profiling can be taken to a much deeper level where it is possible to change the programming of an activation on an hourly basis to suit different passenger groups. You can also benefit from a captive audience who are free of the usual distractions.
It's all about building emotional connections. If a consumer can walk away from an experience they have enjoyed having been able to purchase a product they want as a result, the sheer act of purchase becomes an added reward. Retail as reward is something brands can embrace as part of the promotional experience, and retail has a natural home in airport terminals.