According to George Ritzer, in his book Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption, “retailtainment” is defined as: “the use of sound, ambiance, emotion and activity to get customers interested in the merchandise and in the mood to buy.” Less clinically, it’s making the act of shopping an experience-driven undertaking, rather than a necessary chore.
So far, retailtainment has largely been deployed in retail outfits such as Target, Barnes & Noble, Armani, Lululemon, and mega-malls like the Mall of America in Minnesota and the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, to name a few. While some of these stores may sell grocery items, they don’t exclusively.
It’s no surprise that retailtainment has become so popular that more than 75% of millennials report that they’d prefer to spend their money on a memorable experience or event than on a desirable item. Needless to say, the retailer who can leverage retailtainment to capture the attention and cash of 3 out of 4 millennials in their market—providing an experience while entrancing them to buy—is going to be doing very well. It’s a demographic that no sales and marketing agency can afford to ignore.
However, at first glance, retailtainment may not seem to be a trend that lends itself to the grocery market. Some researchers have suggested that the merger of entertainment and retail is more conducive to customers when they are in a place, mentally and physically, to spend more disposable income. Although committed readers and anglers may disagree, no one needs to be spending money in Barnes & Noble, or in Bass Pro Shops (or their in-store bowling alley). Groceries, however, are a necessity.
Not to say that there haven’t been some forays into grocery retailtainment. Trader Joe’s has established a Hawaiian shirt, Tiki culture nautical theme that contributes to the fun, crunchy, laid-back Jimmy Buffett-esque brand association that’s done the chain no harm. And Whole Foods has certainly succeeded in cultivating the local co-op with eatery and coffee shop vibe. But these are both more cultivated chain themes than active retailtainment campaigns.
So how can grocery stores, CPG brands, and the CPG marketing agencies that service them capitalize on retailtainment? While patrons enjoying themselves in the grocery store certainly can’t hurt and likely drives loyalty, the priority isn’t integrating entertainment into grocery retail to generally entertain customers while they shop, it’s to entice them to purchase and try out products, whether they’re new on the shelf or old favorites.
Some of the retailtainment experiential draws can be variations of the ones that work in non-grocery retailers. Anything that keeps customers in-store longer is, statistically, going to make money for the store and the brands within. Consider the book reading and book signing retailtainment events at retailers like Barnes & Noble—could this be paired with a cooking demonstration and an author who’s a chef or blogger to inspire (and/or feed) your customers?
Could kids make Halloween-themed snacks with a trusted mom blogger or founder of a product on the shelves? Meanwhile, could parents whip up a fresh vinaigrette using brands sold in-store, or watch local chefs put together creative concoctions and then vote on the winner? Couldn’t most college kids use a basic cooking class, or compete against others to win a gift card and then stock up on essentials afterward? And surely there’s something one could do with football and tailgating season upon us.
Consider your store or product’s target audience and location, as well as the time of year, and the retailtainment opportunities can seem limitless. And beyond just hosting or pitching these events to stores or the community, post about it on social media, before and during. There’s no better source of exposure than parents communicating on social media about the activities and events a business and/or brand offers for them and their kids; likewise with millennials sharing a photo to show off a new skill or creation.
Since groceries fall in a necessity category, and aforementioned researchers have cited success with disposable income and retailtainment, it may make sense for grocery outlets and brands themselves to offer experiences perhaps related to food and drink as “lifestyle-elevating commodities.” This could mean promoting wine and cheese instead of trying to engage consumers to purchase milk and cereal. A number of grocery stores already employ in-house sommeliers and specialty cheese sections, a combination that seems well positioned to be the primary purveyor of educational wine and cheese tasting events. Product-centric “cooking shows” featuring professionals demonstrating the deliciousness and versatility of a brand or a commodity likewise leverages food as an experience to be savored.
Whatever specific tack stores choose to take, it’s clear that retailtainment has the potential to capture a huge share of today and tomorrow’s consumer base. Work with a trusted CPG broker to understand and adapt to industry trends so that your products stay on the shelves and in front of the eyes of consumers.
About Impact Group
When Impact Group was founded in 1994, they focused on leveraging empirical, fact-based data on consumer buying and CPG marketing trends to guide their clients into the most productive growth paths. This approach, utilizing proprietary technology, has resulted in Impact Group emerging as one of the most effective and respected players in the CPG space. They remain large enough to make an impact, but streamlined, efficient, and nimble enough to specialize, optimizing growth for any client’s niche.
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