The Perspective 
Monday, 27 December 2010

The “brand” means more than ever today, and it encompasses all the interactions, small and large, digital and physical, that consumers have with a retailer. We have finally embraced the true success of the retail shopping experience; the experience is the Brand.

Shopping solutions of all kinds are becoming more prevalent in consumers’ lives. We talk about how kiosks can enable the connection between the online and offline worlds. When we drill down, the real objective is to sell more at retail, by meeting customers’ needs in an engaging experience. There is value in meeting consumers where they are.

We know that one place we can find today’s consumers is on their mobile phone. We hear more and more about how mobile phones will transform retail, and they likely will but behavior still has a way to go to meet up with expectations. There are some pretty outlandish numbers floating around about the number of people “using” their phones in-store. According to Forrester Research only 14 percent of people who have Internet-capable phones have used them to make a purchase, and not all of those purchases are for retail products. It could be another year or so before half of us have smart phones and engage with them.

So, if you see numbers purporting that half of shoppers are using their phones in-store, know that a few of those people are buying, some are researching and some may just be texting their “BFFL” (Best Friend For Life).

Whatever the numbers, as we think of shopping with a phone, we consider how that changes the focus of consumers while they are in-store. Customers concentrating on the tiny screen may indeed be checking reviews and product information on a retailer’s app, and they may just as easily be involved in connecting with a retailer’s competitor. Either way it is a pretty solitary experience, at its best not a very engaging experience.

Herein lies the strength of shopping kiosks, associate-controlled tablet devices like the iPad, and on-shelf digital signage. Customers are interacting on the big screen with fewer limitations to viewing content, and they are involved in a way that allows a store associate to engage and offer service unique to the customer’s needs. They are viewing proprietary information in a well-organized format that leads to decision-making and leaves room for personal selling.

We read that Generation X and Generation Y, which together comprise adults and teens under age 46, will lead us into economic recovery. These are not monolithic munchers of only things mobile. They have grown up with technology in a range of forms. They will shop in multiple ways because they show up in cross-channel shopper data. And they will value a consistency of information and a quality of presentation that addresses their needs and likes that a larger screen can deliver.

In ‘The New Consumer Behavior Paradigm: Permanent or Fleeting’, PricewaterhouseCoopers looked at post-recession shoppers. They concluded that retailers must leverage their marketing, merchandising and positioning to push their offerings that are “need to haves” and build a case for the “must haves.”  This is a tall order in the context of a two-inch by three-inch screen but attainable when elements are integrated and retailers employ a variety of digital media and in-store merchandising.

This brings us to the real success at retail, collaboration across channels.  Consumers, post “The Great Recession”, are looking for trust relationships with retailers. Consumers are guarding their resources and have changed their shopping paradigm in a direction that is more selective and targeted. It is the Brand that has brought the consumer back to the shopping environment. It is the experience at retail that builds loyalty and will keep them coming back.
Consumers are expecting that all contacts with the Brand, across channels, on-line, in-store, or in-hand will be consistent. They are expecting their needs to be met without limitations being placed on a particular channel. The “Brand” means more today than it did as little as just three years ago, and it encompasses all the interactions, digital and physical, that consumers have with a retailer. We have finally embraced the true success of the retail shopping experience; the experience is the Brand!

Ron Bowers is senior vice president of business development for Frank Mayer & Associates Inc.


Posted by: The Perspective AT 11:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 21 December 2010

As 2011 bears down upon us, I would like to pose one simple question to all the brands and venues out there, from retail to travel, healthcare to universities, government agencies to financial services and all the others in the world. What are your strategies to use digital media technology to engage your customers?

Today’s customers – whether consumers, students, patients or employees – are increasingly using technology to perform rudimentary tasks, from check-in to purchase and everything in between.  Fifty percent of airline passengers check-in via a kiosk, the Web or a mobile device, with IATA forecasts predicting  70 percent by 2013.

The United States currently has a mobile population of more than 300 million and a mobile Internet user base on the verge of surpassing 100 million. A Lightspeed Research survey revealed that 49 million U.S.  mobile users have engaged with an advertisement on their mobile phone.  Amazingly, almost 20 million of those mobile users either clicked on the ad and went on to purchase an item directly or ended up buying it online. How will your organization utilize mobile digital media to engage your customers? 

With more “on-the-go” consumers in the world, a new opportunity has emerged for organizations to utilize digital media to engage with these potential customers.  From a university engaging with students and faculty, to a brand engaging with consumers or a hospital engaging with patients, never before has the opportunity existed to educate, entertain and engage with potential customers in their preferred time and location.

According to an Arbitron study, digital video displays in retail locations (including grocery stores, large retailer/department stores, drug stores, shopping malls or convenience stores) reach more than half of American adults in an average month.  Research from PQ Media indicates U.S. digital out-of-home ad spending jumped 15 percent in the first half of 2010 and predicts a 14.8 percent increase in total ad spending from $2.47 billion in 2009 to $3.8 billion in 2014. How will your organization utilize digital out-of-home/digital place-based media to engage your customers? 

Brands, universities, hospitals, government agencies and other organizations now can engage their constituents in a far more impactful way.  From Facebook to Twitter and myriad other social media channels, people are connecting with each other as the social media wave continues to grow rapidly. 

Research  from Empathica Consumer Insights shows 40 percent of consumers are most likely to search for coupons or promotions when interacting with a brand via social media.  And IDG Research Services’ IDG New Media Study reveals 64 percent of respondents interacted with a brand through social networking within the past six months, and this percentage is increasing. How will your organization utilize social media to engage your customers? 
These statistics simply prove how important it is for your organization to integrate multiple technologies, creating a cohesive and impactful digital media customer engagement program. But they also beg the question: What resources exist, and where can you go to get the insights, strategies and technologies needed to make a successful program your first time out?

Customer Engagement Technology World, April 27-28 in San Francisco, allows organizations to understand the strategies and technologies necessary to better engage customers through digital media technologies.  Attendees hear directly from leading DOOH advertising, kiosk/self-service projects and mobile experts representing major brands, agencies, venues and out-of-home media networks. 

As the official show of the DSA, we are excited to offer more than 50 unique educational sessions that enable attendees to better understand the different customer engagement technologies available and how to best integrate them seamlessly into an overall strategy.  Sessions include:
Digital signage/digital out-of-home/digital place-based media:

  • What Agencies Need To Know About Integrating DOOH Into Campaign Strategy 
  • Understanding The Lines of Revenue: The Difference Between Shopper Marketing Budget and DOOH Advertising Budget
  • Communicating Your DOOH Network's Performance Metrics To Current & Prospective Advertisers
  • Converting Customers And Driving Sales Lift Through Contextually Relevant Content 
  • Understanding How To Use Available Research For DOOH Ad Buys
  • How To Raise Funds to Start, Grow and Expand Your DOOH/In-Venue Network
  • SPEED 2.0:  A 2-part series focusing on Enterprise Media and Media as an Enterprise

Content strategy, engagement and deployment:

  • Cooking Up Content provides agencies, brand marketers, network operators, end-user venues, resellers and integrators with real-world examples and insights, highlighting projects that have demonstrated positive customer engagement and led to improved ROI.  Critical elements for creating content will be discussed, including:
    o    Content Strategies for Engagement:  Understanding your Customer’s Mindset
    o    How to create engaging, contextual, ROI driven content
    o    Tying your content to overall campaign goals
    o    How to measure the effectiveness of your content
    o    Content refinement strategies
    o    Content Creation Strategies for Multiple Platforms


  • Turning Prospects To Customers: Measuring The Action And Effectiveness Of Mobile Marketing Campaigns
  • Integrating Mobile Into Your Customer Engagement Strategy
  • Location-Based Mobile Marketing: What It Is, How to Use It, and How It Will Drive Traffic To Your Venue


  • Aligning Self-Service with Business Objectives
  • Intuitive Self-Service: Creating a Sticky User Interface to Increase Kiosk Usage
  • Maximizing Your Kiosk Project's ROI And Value
  • 6 Things You Need to Know About Accepting Cash In Your Kiosks
  • 6 Things You Need to Know About Accepting Credit & Debit In Your Kiosks
  • Integrating Electronic Payment Processing Into Your POS Kiosk

Social media:

  • Integrating Social Media Into Your Customer Engagement Strategy
  • Location Based Marketing: What It Is? How to Use It? And How It Will Drive Traffic To Your Venue

Multichannel and business strategy issues:

  • Best Practices in Customer Engagement Technology
  • Creating In-Store Experiences That Matter – Tips, Trends & Technologies
  • Creating Successful and Engaging Brand Stories through Emerging Technologies
  • Inter-departmental Communication Strategies To Avoid Project Death
  • Understanding The Critical Ingredients To Eliminate Deployment Headaches
  • Why Technology Is Like a Good Referee - You Never Notice It
  • How Connectivity Can Cripple Your Project:  The Top Five Pitfalls to Avoid
  • Meeting PCI Compliance
  • Keeping Your Technology Running - The Overlooked Fundamentals of Servicing Your CET Projects
  • Choosing the Right Partners for Project Deployments
  • Utilizing QR Codes to Increase Customer Engagement and Action

To understand more about these sessions, to volunteer your organization to speak or to give your company the opportunity to meet with the thousands of pre-qualified organizations that attend Customer Engagement Technology World, visit or email me directly at . 

Posted by: Lawrence Dvorchik AT 11:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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