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Providing the Impulse

Providing the Impulse

Providing the Impulse

Most consumers rate shopping as a leisure activity, but it is one that they are increasingly combining with others such as watching TV or reading a magazine. Emma Herrod investigates how brands and retailers are turning impulse moments into retail opportunities.

Celebrity Endorsements must be a fashion retailer’s dream: Alexa Chung or David Beckham

on Instagram; a Kate Middleton moment for Warehouse; or Gary Barlow

wearing one of Marks & Spencer’s Best of British suits on X Factor.

In the body deodorant advert in which ‘Men can’t help acting on Impulse’ there’s always an attentive flower seller nearby ready to capture that Impulse moment and sell the admirer a bunch of fl owers. Are retailers, consumers and technology ready though to capture the impulse moment online and turn down-time

or leisure activities into a retail opportunity?


Supermarket and non-food retailers’ magazines have been transformed from print publications into interactive selling platforms with the addition of QR codes, hot spots, videos and augmented reality accessible online and via smartphones and apps. This lucrative industry has grown up around corporate publishing with technology,

retailing and editorial expertise coming together to turn every page fl ick into a

retailing opportunity. Online, of course, offers a smooth transition from content to retail with a swipe of a finger on an iPad or a click of a mouse, enabling items seen on a digital page to be added to a shopping basket. The BBC ’s Good Food magazine, for example, includes links to Asda,

Tesco , Ocado and on its recipe pages so the reader can easily add the ingredients for each recipe to their preferred

shopping basket. From the publishing world, Grazia magazine – which is known for its ‘Who, What, Wear’ editorial focus – has enabled its digital readers to shop the magazine as they read their weekly edition on their tablet or smartphone. The digital version contains all of the editorial content seen in the print magazine with an additional shopping facility, enabling users to shop in-app, share via social channels and save to a cross-edition wish-list. All of the editorial and product content is driven by the Pugpig reader and a CMS system with links to the 200 or so products available to shop in each issue supplied by affiliate site, ShopStyle. On top of the additional revenue from sales, the Grazia team has been able to offer a new and diverse range of advertising options to its brands, ranging from sponsored links to product placements, tenancy deals and bespoke interactive pages. “Grazia has a reputation for being bold, brave and innovative,” says Victoria Harper, Special Projects Director Grazia and its publisher, Bauer Media. “We always had a vision for a magazine app that was more than just a simple PDF page turner.” The decision to build a new iPhone app followed the launch of Grazia’s award winning apps for iPad and Blackberry devices, both of which have been a resounding success with its readership, regularly attracting five-star feedback.


Shoppers don’t have to wait for journalists to write up a story about what the latest celebrity is wearing since social media enables everyone to be a journalist or blogger on the street. They can share images, quotes and tweets of who, what, where (and wear) they see celebrities – and many celebrities are even happy to share selfi es.

For retailers, the challenge is to be able to react quickly to these celebrity endorsements, enabling the resulting rush

of fans to fi nd and purchase that must-have dress, skirt, suit or perfume. “Retailers and retail systems have to move

as fast as social media,” says Darryl Adie, Managing Director of ecommerce agency Ampersand Commerce. He explains how “it all comes down to systems” and how quickly a product can be placed prominently on the home page, personalised via location, if necessary, and stock re-ordered. Retailers have systems and processes in place for promoting products, but in these situations they need the agility either to break that chain or have it set

up to be able to move faster, adds Adie. Some, for example, will have automated systems that promote products based on popularity so the item will rise to a prominent position if lots of people search for it.

Away from the unexpected endorsement, social media also enables retailers to create impulse moments for shoppers. Campaigns around events such as London Fashion Week can be created in advance with the home

page and product positioning all set up in advance to ‘react’ to shoppers who are driven by impulse from other channels at the time of the event.

Retailer Ann Summers , for example, made sure it was ready to dominate and add value to social conversations around a Channel 4 documentary on sex toys. “Smart brands can gauge, create or predict the things that their consumers will be interested in so be able to be relevant to the social conversation,”

says Mark Iremonger, Chief Strategy Office of digital marketing agency iCrossing.

“To succeed in social, brands need to have a point of view but also understand their customers, and be useful or able to entertain them.” He explains how brands and retailers need to co-ordinate and connect activity across all of their paid for (search/advert), earned (social discussion) and owned media (ecommerce site, Facebook page) in order to

maximise the opportunities. “You have to understand your consumers and start the conversation with relevancy and authenticity,” says Isla Kirby, Creative Strategist at Savvy Marketing. Essentially, If you want to connect to fans – be they sports fans or passionate viewers of the final of X Factor – you need to come across in a way

that’s just as passionate.


Car manufacturer Mercedes harnessed the dual-screen trend for the world’s first

Twitter-led TV advert when it wanted to launched its A-class series to a younger, X

Factor-viewing audience. Using Twitter, viewers decided the action of a real-time

story told over three adverts aired during the X Factor. It was a pioneering move

that produced staggering results, explains Brewe; two months after the launch, the

A-Class represented 6.2% of the total hatchback market, brochure requests soared

by 140% after the campaign and 77,000 leads were generated overall. Crucially, the

average age of people enquiring about the A-Class was ten years younger than the

average for Mercedes-Benz as a whole.


One area that has made great strides in engaging consumers during their leisure time is television. Whereas TV advertising used to be a one-way broadcast, technology is enabling interaction directly with the brand, other fans and even in the direction that adverts take creatively. The internet, social media and mobile apps, such as Zeebox and Shazam, are enabling viewers to get closer to their favourite programmes, interact with other viewers and the programme itself, and allow sponsors and advertisers to engage. “Smart brands are pushing interaction,” says Kristin Brewe, Director of Marketing & Communications, IAB UK. This is resulting in deeper analytics; viewers tweeting about an advert shows that brand messaging is right; second screening (using a mobile phone or tablet while also watching TV) is driving web visits for further information, viewers booking test drives, competition entries and direct sales.

Zeebox, for example, which offers viewers links relevant to the TV programme they are watching along with tweets via its mobile phone app, is able to deep dive into the analytics of user engagement and help brands find other places where they can reach the same consumers and where their interests overlap, such as which Strictly viewers also watch Britain’s Got Talent. Talent and reality shows with their large audiences and ongoing stories are ideal opportunities through which brand sponsors and advertisers can fully engage with potential customers. Brewe says that consumers “want to see advertising that’s right for me”. As lon as the balance and tone are right they don’t mind being sold to. Indeed, the majority of consumers rank shopping as a leisure activity, 50% of young people say they shop when they are bored and over half of the adult population watches television while also using their smartphone or tablet; 81% of tablet owners multi-task while watching TV, according to Ofcom. Immersive, interactive experiences are the way forward for advertising and television.


“Engagement happens on many levels,” comments Miles Lewis, VP for EMEA and

APAC Sales, Shazam, and music is just one of them. In the UK, at least 8 out of 10 adverts use commercial music that can be tagged with Shazam and purchased. For example, the music from 2013’s John Lewis Christmas advert was tagged 31,000 times in the first weekend after its launch broadcast.

Add a Shazam logo to an advert and this can be tagged to link second screeners to further content, to book a test drive or as a direct path to purchase. The same is true with TV programme content, whether it’s being watched at the time of original broadcast or at a later date. In fact, 80-85% of all TV programming is still viewed live, according to

Bleyleben. The biggest audiences for TV – and correspondingly for Zeebox – are sporting events, and reality and talent shows, which are generally watched live, he explains.

Zeebox is not used by brands in isolation,though, and is generally being used to extendtheir reach as part of a wider campaign combining TV programme sponsorship and other marketing channels. One such campaignwas Amex’s sponsorship of US reality show ‘LifeAfter Top Chef ’ on the Bravo network. Throughthe Zeebox app, viewers could discover moreinformation about the programme and the chefs, be vocal socially and interact, as well asaccess ecommerce offers.

According to Lewis, viewers can get involved with 95% of all US television output.

This content can be anything from music, screensavers, feedback, cast listings, links to

IMDB (the Internet and Movie Database), or to download the next episode.

In fact, with a Shazam tag consumers are effectively bookmarking a call to action link so they can return to it at a later date. It is effective with UK audiences, too. Online makeup retailer sponsored the 2012 TV documentary about Girls Aloud, ‘10 Years at the Top’. By tagging audio at relevant times during the programme, viewers were given access to the firm’s digital hub through which they could view exclusive unseen footage and interviews with the band members, buy a special edition Ten album and enter a competition to meet the band at a secret gig. Shazammers were also treated to Beautybay goodies, including a 15% online store discount on all of its products, plus make-up tutorials and beauty advice which was shareable via social media. Through its sponsorship and the Shazam link, Beautybay increased web traffic by 235% and saw a 48% increase in sales compared to the preChristmas week in 2011, with 20% attributed to Shazam and ITV.

Against these successes though Bleyleben believes that TV audiences and brands are not yet ready for direct paths to purchase through a second screen to be the norm. “We’re 6 – 12 months away from it becoming normal for

brands to sell in this way,” he says. Brands are still finding their way and experimenting with how

to engage and interact with TV audiences through the second screen, but the interaction

is still about engagement rather than selling.

However, 6 – 12 months will be just in tim to tie in with the major sporting events of Jun and July 2014: the football Worl Cup (whic has already attracted 100,000 posts in English on Facebook and Twitter and is of interest to 71% of men); Wimbledon; the Commonwealth Games; and the Tour de France.

Coca-Cola is already raising the social noise levels around the 2014 World Cup Trophy Tour showing that you can’t leave engagement until kick off.

“Messages and marketing around events can be made ready for every eventuality,” say Savv Marketing’s Isla Kirby, so it appears that they are reacting to impulses. There will be true impulse moments, too – such as Oreo’s tweet that “you can still dunk in dark” when the power went off during the Super Bowl. “These windows of opportunity can be quite short,” adds Kirby.

Sponsorship of the World Cup will be a whole new ball game because of the rise o smartphones, social and second screening. It will be a brave new world full of opportunities for those who plan and connect but also can’t help acting on impulse.

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