Point of purchase (POP) is a term used by marketers and retailers when planning the placement of products for consumers, such as product displays strategically placed in a grocery store aisle or advertised in a weekly flyer. Similar to this term is the point of sale (POS), which is the point at which a customer purchases and pays for products, such as on a website or at a store checkout. A POP is an area that surrounds the POS, where you often encounter promotional activity or other products.
While the world struggles to contain the outbreak of the COVID-19, many businesses are scaling back on operations, and the events and entertainment industry has been forced to go into a “cancel-all” mode. Additionally, many retailers worldwide are forced to close their doors, temporarily or for good. Grocery retailers are experiencing soaring demand on certain product categories, while discretionary purchases are being deferred at best, or cancelled altogether at worst. Footfalls to stores has reduced massively due to Lockdown or Shelter at home implemented across many countries. Retailers who offer a quicker home delivery service and free returns are gaining advantage over those who do not.
March 2020 will be marked as a month in the history of Marketing when consumer shopping behavior changed dramatically due to the Corona virus outbreak. Whether this situation is permanent or last several weeks or months , there are some things which have changed and will be difficult to reverse. From being Wild, one is being tamed and domesticated and a complete return to the wild will not happen. Some permanent changes in consumer behavior is/are guaranteed. In the short run of 3–6 months the behavior is definitely going to remain modified.
Shopping behavior is changing. Some observations based on various sources of data are:
- Consumers prefer to spend less and are only buying what they need given the current landscape.
- A shift in where consumers are spending, with a dramatic shift towards e-commerce.
- One-stop-shop retailers (whether online or brick-and-mortar) are seeing success
- Online marketplaces will continue to lead the online delivery category.
- More than ever, brand loyalty is a low priority for consumers as product availability is of the highest importance.
- Consumers would purchase from a less familiar brand if their first choice was unavailable rather than wait until the product is restocked.
- Following the COVID-19 pandemic, it is predicted that consumers will be slow to come back to brick-and-mortar retailers and the majority of the e-commerce business will continue to go to the biggest players.
In the short-term, consumers were experiencing changes in social distancing, changes at home with remote working, entertainment and shopping. In the longer term, the impact on consumers will be far more severe, with disruption to culture and the human condition, which will include reduced spending, lifestyle adaptation and downscaling. “It is very important for us as brands and business to respond to that change,” said Lynne Gordon, Managing Partner, Kantar Insights in one of the articles.
If marketing has one goal, it’s to reach consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions. Marketing has always sought those moments, or touch points, when consumers are open to influence. Touch points have been understood through the metaphor of a “funnel” — consumers start with a number of potential brands in mind (the wide end of the funnel), marketing is then directed at them as they methodically reduce that number and move through the funnel, and at the end they emerge with the one brand they chose to purchase.
What is likely to happen to these 5 stages of consumer buying behavior?
Awareness is the uppermost stage of the marketing funnel. Potential customers are drawn into this stage through marketing campaigns and consumer research and discovery.
Increase in interest about healthy products. More research about the product composition, manufacturing process etc. More information will be sought. Gender balance in awareness will happen as more information is sought online. Men are more likely to alter pre shopping behavior and the route to decision making and become more aware buyers while women will become super aware buyers and extremely value conscious as health and wellness will become priority. So heightened awareness specially with respect to health and safety.
“How much does a person know about the product” or “How much does the person think that he or she knows about the product.” In the current environment and going forward product availability is going to take higher priority than brand loyalty. if their first choice was unavailable rather than wait until the product is restocked. So will familiarity continue to be a important component in the decision making matrix of the consumer or will the definition of Familiarity change ? In all likelihood the familiarity for the brand will depend on how the brand is responding to the new situation. Brands that respond to this situation positively by coming to the aid of the customers in all aspects of its business will be more familiar than the other.
“The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”
The consideration phase is about a buyer’s evaluation of different methods that are available to them. At this stage, delivery critical information, deploying best possible vehicle to influence will help the buyer make the best possible decision. In the post Covid stage there will be increased requirement of
- Product comparison guides
- Expert guides / Influencer advise or testimonials
- Live interactions (podcast or video)
Identifying what buyers seek to educate themselves will be the key and to then use the knowledge to deploy the content will be the key.
With consumers getting more evolved and having more control of the buying process, they will customize their buying journeys and the purchase. So rather than having one generic consumer buying journey, we now have a bunch of individual buying journeys for each consumer and purchase. Today’s consumers can build their own journey which means they expect to get the specific information they need when they need it. Paid media like display, search and social ads can be effective at guiding consumers through the journey. But marketers who rely solely on paid media are leaving a lot of opportunities to connect with consumers on the table. Leveraging owned media — content that brands create and control on owned platforms like websites, blogs and social channels — is essential for reaching consumers with the messages they need to convert as well. Organic content like blog posts, product webpages, social media posts, infographics and video are extremely effective at delivering the information consumers need throughout the buying journey. And, unlike some paid media, organic content is not meant to be overly salesy, reducing the chance that consumers will be put off by the messaging. Instead, organic content is meant to assist, inform and entertain consumers. If the marketer makes consumer aware of the need to purchase, demonstrate how their product addresses that need, helps answer questions about the product and services and how to use them to aid consumers make purchase decisions then they are more likely to succeed in the current environment.
As per the findings of Criteo in US & UK, Brand Loyalty was anyway up for grabs with 73% of all shoppers willing to consider a new brand in at least one major shopping category. This funnel was good till March 2020. Sticking to pre-pandemic practices of moving consumers through the marketing funnel will no longer be a viable strategy. The overall mindset of consumers will continue to evolve and the fight for loyalty is getting harder.
Behavior is going to change at every stage. Are we prepared to respond to the changed behavior. One aspect is where the purchase decision is being made and the other is why it is being made in a certain manner and given the change in the psyche of the consumer we need to be even more aware of the behavior. An environment with full access, knowledge and no distraction or time pressure definitely will definitely be interesting space to understand.
Marketing leaders everywhere have spent the last few weeks taking stock of our “new normal” and what this global pandemic means for their brands. All are reevaluating how to best care for customers and maintain reputations in a climate where every action feels strange and unfamiliar. Marketing depends on building trust and having conversations with the audience. Yet in a moment of global crisis, it can feel incredibly difficult to send any message at all. This moment presents an opportunity for brands to create new digital experiences that nurture relationships and instill trust and human connection. Of course, it’s not as simple as it might seem. Instinct in times of uncertainty might be to totally mute all channels to avoid any risk of appearing insensitive. However, that can confuse customers or damage brand trust. If one goes dark and tries to return only once the crisis has passed, they risk disappearing entirely from the public mindset. Instead, it’s time to get creative and think about the value one can still offer customers in other ways.
Digital POP is more challenging. The customer will seek more info on being exposed to Digital POP and will not just get swayed by the static visual or limited moving visual appeal like it used to happen in the physical store.
Influencers are in the strongest position to play a very important role in this new scenario. Influence, trust, testimonial will play a big role in consumer buying behavior. The Influencers and the Influencer marketing industry will need to up their game and grab this opportunity.
The global COVID crisis has created huge challenges for brands and marketers. Even as the focus begins to shift to re-opening the economy, the COVID pandemic will continue to have a fundamental impact on the way both consumers and brands behave in 2020 and 2021. Understanding these changes and being ready to hit the ground running with actionable plans is going to be critically important to marketers, media owners, social media influencers and agencies going forward.