In the wake of US retailer Target closing 133 stores just 2 years after their opening, Toronto Star Fashion Columnist Karen von Hahn offers some insights into the buying attitudes of Canadians versus Americans. This commentary by Lyle Bunn looks at buying habits through the lens of Digital Place-based Media. It is useful to read von Hahn’s her full article What Target’s fail Says About Canadians.
Canadians are different shoppers than Americans notes Karen von Hahn.
1. Canadians do not shop for sport. Perhaps it's the self-denying, tight-fisted Scot heritage or the wish to provide a better life for the next generation. Canadians do not enjoy parting with money, perhaps because Canadians simply have less disposable income than Americans since mortgage interest payments are not tax deductible and the cost of living in Canada is higher including everything from a accommodation to cars, to a bottle of wine or going out to dinner.
What this means to digital signage use and providers: The consumer purchase journey must include regular, ongoing profile of the brand and its promise. And, the point-of-purchase, or in the case of food services, the point-of-ordering must motivate trial, buying, upsell and cross-sell if the revenue aspirations of the brand or retailer are to be achieved. Digital media offers the opportunity to brand and merchandise simultaneously while presenting brand attributes in its most inspiring manner.
2. When Canadians do spend they are extremely discerning and are “touch and feel” shoppers. The comparative success of premium high street brands here such as Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and JCrew, each of which took baby steps here in their expansion, shows that we will pay more for brands that deliver.
What this means to digital signage use and providers: American retailers are aware of the value-consciousness of the Millennials demographic which is evidenced across all consumer demographics in Canada. “Value” is an expression of total benefits including such elements as suitable quality at suitable price, the purchase experience and remedy when the brand promise is not met. Digital signage can establish appropriate expectations including presenting the benefits that consumers could anticipate receiving. Many US retailers and brands (i.e. TJX in its Winners banner) test approaches in Canada before wider roll-out in their US locations, or monitor Canadian approaches (i.e. Tim Horton’s, Holt Renfrew, Air Canada Center, Oxford Properties, ScotiaBank, TD Bank, etc.) precisely because Canadian shoppers are more discerning and the competitive environment demands greater differentiation. It helps that many of the digital signage primary providers were founded or have principle operations in Canada where “best practices” can be advanced, tested and profiled. Hundreds of end users for example, attended the Digital Trends Showcase (DTS) in downtown Toronto in October 2014, which demonstrated merchandising approaches using Adidas as the sample brand. A major consumer package goods (CPG) will be used in the fall 2015 DTS demonstration event.
3. Canada’s urban centers are well served by brick-and-mortar retail options. Extensive, robust Internet access serves both rural and urban shoppers.
What this means to digital signage use and providers: Retailers must generate traffic and then convert shoppers to buyers. By offering an environment that merits being a destination, the retailer enjoys traffic, visit frequency, a deeper shopper loop and increased numbers of people in the shopping party and dwell time. These translate into conversion based on the 3 Ps, product, price and promotion. On-location media that adds to the experience and engagement results in increased conversion, basket size and share of wallet.
When online research is part of the path to purchase, message fidelity is fulfilled and content costs reduced through “transmedia,” where communications are adapted and repurposed while using the same graphics, font family, benefit statements, tag lines and story line. Brands can tell their story and sell their story through high quality video, animations and graphics that echo each other online and in-store.
4. Canadians are distrustful of hype, and when all the hype is investigated, God forbid the retailer or brand does not deliver, resulting in utter dismissal and disdain for the hooey.
What this means to digital signage use and providers: Eyes are attracted to messages that matter and the brain engages with communications that indicate how a problem is solved or an aspiration fulfilled. The inherent ability for dynamic signage to present features and benefits in the context of weather, economic or social conditions means that the brand or retailer is continuously able to put their best foot forward. The “bliss point” of a satisfied consumer and equally satisfied retailer is achieved.
In conclusion, in its ability to simultaneously brand and promote while adding a positive, modern ambiance and vitality that increase the attractiveness of a location, digital signage offers high return on investment to retailers and brands.
Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator in North America’s Dynamic Place-based Media industry. He has assisted over 300 organizations to benefit from the media, has helped train over 10,000 end user and professionals, and published over 300 articles, whitepapers and Guides including the popular “Dynamic Media in Retail” guidebook and NRF15 Summary available at http://www.lylebunn.com/Pages/aboutus.aspx. Email