Getting to the Customer

This reporter’s daughter just returned from four days at a cheerleading camp in the Poconos where she came home with sore muscles, a few new tricks and a treasure trove of new products.

 

Many companies are taking their wares right to the consumers in hopes of getting those products into girls’ hands so they’ll visit stores to buy. The products were a great gift to the hundreds of girls at the camp and included items from Sephora and Clean Scene by Murad. The girls clamored to play with the products and enjoyed foldable speakers for their iPods from Murad. Since most were in their midteen years, clear skin is a major issue (so much so that several use birth control pills to manage their skin) that they jumped at the chance to learn about Clean Skin. A very well-written booklet with a cheerleader theme explained the concept behind the line even detailing what free radicals are. Universal Cheerleaders Association cheerleaders across the country are submitting cheers based on Clean Scene. Sephora offered a chance to “make your own” skin care, a cosmetics twist on make your own sundaes.

 

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Cheerleading camps are just one example of how to get a product in front of a captive audience. Ardell donated false lashes to dance troupes in New Jersey so the girls could have a uniform look and learn how easy lashes are to apply. Many other companies use sports events to expose would-be purchasers to their products.

 

One person who knows the power of hands-on testing is Joann Tyson who founded Cosmetic Promotion 20 years ago. While she knows e-word of mouth is powerful via blogs and social networking, she also is savvy to the power of in-store sampling. Also, many of the blogs and Facebook postings turn into complaints rather than kudos. To help get positive feedback, Cosmetic Promotion suggests a few tried-and-true winning strategies such as developing a cadre of volunteers, samplers and ambassadors to send out the products to get people buzzing and utilizing referral programs with simple ploys such as money off the next purchase. Tyson also has her own list of items she couldn’t do without that she learned about via sampling Skin Doctors Zip Zapper (which she said she had never heard of before she was tapped to do in store events) and Bliss bath products, which she fell in love with after staying at a W Hotel.

 

One of Tyson’s biggest challenges is justifying the return on investment from an in-store activity. “One thing to remember when doing an in-store event is that it is difficult to get a good ROI the day of the event. You have to factor in the customers that will become fans, tell others and make repeat purchases — all because you had someone in the store one day pimping your brands,” she said. “Just make sure that person is educated and a good representative of your brand. Oh yeah, make sure the product actually works.”

 

Right now in my town, there are 33 girls trying Clean Scene!

People, Places and Things

Studies show people are cutting back store hopping in favor of zeroing in on stores known for lower prices. This is part of the research offered by SymphonyIRI FOLO group as part of a study called “The New Path to Purchase: An Escalation of Channel & Consumption Migration. SymphonyIRI’s John McIndoe, senior vice president marketing highlights some findings.

 

John McIndoe: Shoppers are not enjoying the same financial success as corporations this spring and summer and their continued search for lower-cost retail channels reflects this. In addition to potential pressure on retailer revenues and margins, these trends point to managers having fewer chances to get it right with shoppers. If a shopper visits a store and is unhappy with the experience, she will quickly go elsewhere. The number of shoppers visiting fewer than five stores has increased every quarter since second quarter 2009. In contrast, those shopping at five to nine stores in the same time frames has dropped every quarter but one. The number of people shopping at 10 or more stores has remained about the same.

What’s in Store:

 

Target Upgrades Beauty in Denver and Tampa: New looks in two markets show off significant upgrades in Target’s beauty department, with new, softer lighting and curved fixtures, as well as interactive screens to help guide customers in their selections.

Wicked Good: Tom’s of Maine has a free online chat series called Wicked Fresh on Wednesdays at which people can talk about the firm’s newest toothpaste called Wicked Fresh. The chat is part of a tie in with the Broadway hit “Wicked.”

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