Shopper marketing, like all forms of media, is no longer defined in the static way it was a few years ago. Social media, online and mobile have all added a new dimension to a marketing discipline formerly noted for cardboard point-of-purchase displays and shelf talkers. At the forefront of this convergence is Mass Connections, a Cerritos, Calif., shopper marketing firm that works with General Mills, Procter & Gamble and Kraft, among others. Caroline Cotten-Nakken, the firm’s founder and CEO, discussed some of these convergence opportunities with Brandweek.
Brandweek: What is cutting edge right now in shopper marketing?
Caroline Cotten-Nakken: Social networking, online marketing [and] mobile. Those are absolutely hot, hot trends.
BW: How does social networking work with shopper marketing?
CC-N: We did something different with by tying it to shopper marketing, where there’s some big event that’s going to be happening in store. When the event is happening, we’ll do a pre-empt to build some excitement, but when the actual event happens and everything’s in place—premiums, signage—when that checklist is taken care of at that point, we have a patented system where you can swipe a debit card, enter a PIN and then that activates a promotion and within seconds, that message goes out to all the people who have opted in.
BW: Who have you done this with lately?
CC-N: We did one with Coty and there was a premium giveaway not only giving away small samples, but also giving a small picture frame. So with the participating stores, we’d have the premium giveaway ready, the samples were ready, everything’s ready and then boom a debit card was swiped at the debit, a PIN was entered and blasts went out to thousands of shoppers that were around those stores telling them right now this is going on.
BW: How does the debit card work? Who’s doing it?
CC-N: It would be the event person, the person overseeing that promotion. The whole software and system was built on the back-end [of the ATM system]. We hold two patents on this. It can link to in-store radio or TV.
BW: What’s the radius? How far do you have to be to get the notification?
CC-N: We hit a 20-mile radius and they opt in. We also posted on Facebook so people on Facebook can see what’s going on. This is a very new, very exciting new thing. It assures success and avoids disappointment.
BW: Aside from mobile, what are some of the other trends you’re seeing?
CC-N: For in-store events, we may do some online buzz or activities that let folks know that this is going to be happening or even that this product is in a particular retailer.
BW: So there’s more cross-promotion between online and shopper now?
CC-N: Correct. For example, making a cake out of the [General Mills] gluten-free cake mix, we sent a party kit to moms and moms send us photos of them having their birthday party and even [mention] ingredients they bought at a particular retailer. So you could tie the online and “in-life” experiences.
BW: Are there any trends in-store, leaving online aside?
CC-N: This is one that you may have experienced when you go to, for example, a sporting event. When they come up and take your picture and give you a little card that says go online and see your photo. We’ve actually been doing a few of those. We will target the particular shopper; let’s say it’s kids sticking their head through the prop. We give the card to the parent so they can see the picture.