Saturday, October 30, 2010

Point of Sale Fail

Some studies have shown that 70% of final purchase decisions are made at the point of purchase. In some categories it's likely much higher than that.

I recently went to the local grocery store to purchase some taco chips. I was taking them to a gathering of friends with some homemade guacamole that I was planning to make. As I studied the various brands on the shelf, it struck me that a real opportunity is being lost by marketers of taco chips.

So imagine for a moment that you are a package of taco chips on the shelf at the local Safeway. Consumers walk by you all the time from 8:00 AM until midnight. All you want is for someone to pick you up and take you home with them. How do you convince them?

Some of these consumers are specifically looking for taco chips but don't have a specific brand in mind. They'll stop and inspect the taco chip section and make a choice. Others will notice the taco chips on the shelf as they are going past and make a impulse decision to purchase some.

How do we convince them to choose you?

To do this, we have to understand taco chip consumers. The purchase decision process for taco chips (and everything else) looks like this:

1) recognition of need
2) information gathering
3) review/assess options
4) purchase
5) product usage

Without doing comprehensive research, we can make some assumptions about taco chip consumers, specifically in reference to stage 5 above. Taco chips are a social food, served in a shared bowl. They are rarely eaten plain, but most often with salsa and/or guacamole. Taco chips are a common food at social gatherings. In my case, I had planned to make some homemade guacamole to take to a friends house.

What is the core need of the consumer, in this case? Well primarily as consumers we all want to feel good about ourselves and our purchases; in this case, a pat on the back from friends about the tasty chips and guacamole.

How can you, as a package of chips, help me with this? The answer is dead simple.

If you provide a point of sale reference to a tasty guacamole recipe, this will likely sway my decision. But printing and supplying recipe cards at the point of sale is expensive (and not terribly environmentally friendly). The answer is a simple 2D barcode on the package which will send my web-browsing mobile phone straight to your guacamole-recipe mobile website. I can scan the barcode right in the Safeway aisle, immediately viewing a list of all required ingredients to purchase while I am shopping.

Of course, taco chips are just one of thousands of categories in the grocery store. With so many purchase decisions being made right in the aisle, and such a high percentage of consumers who have mobile devices in their pocket while they are making those decisions, nearly any product in any category at the grocery store could benefit from some form of mobile marketing activity.

Most, however, don't pursue this. Such a shame.


  1. I've found that many Safeways are mobile deadspots. It may be the case with lots of supermarkets due to large parking lots, refridgeration units, etc. where cellphone coverage can be dodgy.

  2. Although voice connections may be tricky in some grocery stores, text almost always works, as text requires less continuous signal acquisition than voice.