The “path to purchase,” which was the theme of this year’s Shopper Marketing Expo in Chicago this past week, has become a lot more complicated in recent years with the proliferation of social media sites of all stripes, further fragmenting and already-fragmented media market.
Attendees at this year’s expo – primarily corporate branding and marketing managers – spent the better part of the show learning about the methods and the madness of the path to purchase, 21st Century version, at the expo’s slate of seminars.
Plus, many of the vendors on hand were showcasing online coupon, shopping and branding sites to lure shoppers in at the very beginning of the path to purchase. Mywebgrocer (MWG), for instance, hosts on-line shopping sites for chains like Publix and ShopRite. I was told that about 85 percent of browsers to these sites use it to plan their shopping trip, while the other 15 percent actually shop online.
Another company I ran into at the show, MobiTen, builds software that helps retailers connect with their customers at home, through iPads and cell phones, and continue to interact through an in-store retail touchpad. MobiTen develops interactive catalogs, magazines and sales tools that also collect analytics to help marketers determine trends and product strategy.
Basically, these Web integration companies are attempting to connect the buyer as early in the buying process as possible. What kind of luck they’ll have doing that and connecting those purchase decisions from the Web to the retail location remains to be seen.
What we do know, and how this relates to large-format printing for retail (and really any other application for that matter, from special events to trade shows) is the importance of brand consistency and promotional integration.
As a print shop or sign shop, it’s increasingly important to become part of the entire marketing process. By doing so, you show that you have an interest in the client beyond simply producing graphics, and you create additional opportunity as a value-added partner and consultant.