This post is by Nick Bedford, Head of Sales and General Manager at Looking Glass Experiential.
It is a fact widely acknowledged that marketing will be more effective when the audiences are in a positive frame of mind. Many studies have been conducted to investigate in-store purchase triggers, including how far music influences mood and propensity to buy. A US study in 2011 even found that the very act of shopping can actively elevate the mood and make people feel better. Many creative campaigns, such as the McVitie's campaign featuring small fluffy animals emerging from biscuit packets, are geared towards generating this positivity in people.
Less well investigated is the amplification effect of communicating with people at times when they are already likely to be in a relaxed and positive mindset. For example, when visiting shopping centres, shoppers are already primed to receive messages on what to buy. This even applies when consumers are at the airport, before leaving for a holiday, ready to experience new things, but also relaxing and winding down. In malls, our research has found that 51 per cent of shoppers will make a spontaneous purchase on a visit, with average spend per visit in the UK's flagship shopping malls at close to £100. This presents an opportunity few brands could pass up.
While many travellers consider shopping to be a major activity for the holidays themselves, the potential to engage begins well before they arrive at the airport gate. Duty-free stores are such an integral part of pre-flight ritual that research has found 42% of Britons make on-the-spot purchases at the airport, while one in four makes an impulse purchase of expensive electrical items in the same location. Duty-free shopping has moved beyond alcohol trials or make up and perfume testers. Airports are becoming upmarket shopping malls with a plethora of retailers now taking advantage of pre-flight store locations, providing a much broader array of products available for pre-flight impulse buys. And it's not just items which can be purchased directly before flight that can be promoted. The halo power of positivity from an unusual brand interaction in this space can extend long after the vacation is over.
The ability to stage something unique is where unusual locations like airports or shopping malls can come in, to form the backdrop for a stand-out campaign. Typically the locations reflect relaxed leisure activities, with direct access to aspirational luxury brands. Experiential work in particular can prove very effective when paired with the power of positive mindsets in these areas. In the run up to Christmas, Citizen Watches ran a campaign effectively taking over the Birmingham Bullring with a range of out-of-home advertising formats from lift wraps to interactive screens, alongside experiential engagement with the product and a competition linked directly online via Wi-Fi and touch-screen ad formats. While a watch brand may be an 'expected' category in the mall, the depth and variety of the engagement and immersion delivered by the advertising gave the campaign the power of surprise, and subsequently stand-out, and shoppers responded incredibly well to the opportunity for tangible, face-to-face brand interaction, with the added incentive of potentially winning a luxury holiday. The personal touch here cannot be underestimated – our research found agreement that the Citizen advertising positioned the brand as 'appealing' was highest amongst respondents who recalled the brand promoters, with half of them agreeing this was the case. When asked what advertising in general they recalled seeing during their trip to the Bullring that day, shoppers were most likely to reference brand promoter representatives.
In particular, having the freedom to do something different elevates a brand campaign in these spaces through a combination of the unexpected – physically showcasing a product in an unusual location or via an unusual campaign – and consumers in a relaxed and happy frame of mind. Not only is there a captive audience with high dwell times, but these are people who are actively inhabiting these locations and expecting to be sold to. The flexibility to inhabit the space with something truly memorable and incongruous can disrupt expectations to great effect and create memorable moments.
We recently toured a Land Rover 550 Discovery Sport around eight shopping centre locations in the UK. The impact of seeing the car parked unexpectedly within a mall environment underlined the vehicle's consumer appeal and stylistic allure, and also allowed 'invite only' access for shoppers to sit in the driver's seat and experience the plush cockpit first-hand. Land Rover gained access to an affluent audience, approaching the car in a positive, enquiring and spend-ready mindset and crucially, when they were more likely to have time on their hands for that hands-on trial. It proved an ideal mix of location and product, and even led directly to sales of the car by shoppers who may not have otherwise have taken action.
Tapping into the power of positivity therefore becomes a combination of campaign, location, personality and stand-out – an holistic media approach rooted in the real world which can capture the attention and linger in the memories of target consumers long after the brand interaction. Furthermore, the ability to see and touch a product makes it much more likely that people will consider a brand more accessible and relevant to themselves. What is key is to adopt a strategy whereby those moments of positivity can be seized upon and enhanced to surprise and delight passersby with something truly engaging. When you consider that malls are increasingly becoming hubs for leisure activity where people meet and congregate, and many travellers often have lengthy check in times at airport locations, these moments of positivity become ripe with potential for brands looking to truly stand out.