There is a long standing negative connotation to being disruptive. We associate disruption with being unruly, wild, troublesome; but, with the advent of technology, companies being disruptive has taken on a new meaning. Disruptive companies strive to innovate or to be groundbreaking in industries strongly rooted in routine, because when routine is disrupted, growth happens. Grocery shopping, for most shoppers, is a routine that doesn’t vary greatly: people buy what they always buy. For retailers to grow basket size they must disrupt that routine. The challenge with disrupting a shopper’s routine comes with doing it in a way that is effective but doesn’t feel invasive. One of the most obvious, but often most ignored, places to do this is in the store aisles.
Retailers tend to rely on print ads or email subject lines to pique shoppers interest. While both of these methods drive traffic to the store, and to specific products, they generally don’t create a lasting experience for the shopper. The motivation with this type of promotion is price point, however, does price create loyal brand advocates or just attracts value-based shoppers? While a value-based shopper may stray from their typical list based on lower prices, their routine is never truly disrupted by these techniques alone.
If retailers can’t rely on price as a motivator to disrupt shopping behavior, what can be used? Stefan Mumaw, from Callahan Creek marketing agency, explored the idea of executing in-store ideas with a different motivator in mind: CURIOSITY. Mumaw explains that by using curiosity, customers can be drawn into an experience that will create a lasting impression and, if done well, a brand advocate.
But let’s take that one step further. What if a promotion piqued interest outside of the store with email and/or mailers along with merchandising in the store? Creating curiosity at any point in store interaction can break the customer out of their habit and create a lasting impression. Trader Joe’s is a chain that does this extremely well with their Fearless Flyer, or new product, program. Customers receive direct mail and email communications highlighting new products, then those same products are featured in store either with shelf signage or as part of a designated end-cap. Similarly, the AWG Excite program uses multiple touch points to engage customers online and in the store to generate curiosity, interrupt habitual buying behavior, and encourage engagement with the experience beyond one sale.
While incorporating curiosity into promotional programs sounds difficult, it really is as simple as answering questions frequently asked by customers. Frequently asked about local products? Add shelf tags for local products, or highlight them online. Do customers generally stop in for easy dinner options? Merchandise easy to combine meal elements in an endcap or in the deli section. While these are seemingly simple solutions they answer customer questions in way that that can delight and is also easy to share as an experience. Answering customer questions through merchandising and promotion quells the curiosity and creates an experience that will engage customers and when done well, consistently, can create loyal brand advocates.