Retail Promotions Top-of-Mind

It should come as no surprise that for food retail in recent years, discount stores have been king. While grocers have traditionally been recession-proof, this recession has been a bit of a game-changer. While traditional grocers have suffered, Wal-Mart, Aldi and other discounters have seen gains. Likewise, cross-selling has enabled profitability for the likes of Kroger gas stations (

Two major drivers in retail business today include IT and logistics. This is not exclusive to food sellers; such issues pervade retail in general. Ed Stone of Continuum discusses retail’s drive towards CIO leadership ( Retail has become so numbers-focused, and IT has grown so comprehensive in reporting, that technology can often be the driving voice of decision-making in retail today. This focus on technology and numbers has marketers playing a reactive numbers game themselves. It should come as no surprise in this economy that promotions have focused on price – seemingly driven by customer value. Yet Stone claims marketing is bypassing its honored role; it bypasses brand image value and consequently forces the customer into an analytic, price-driven decision. In this left-brained sterility, emotionally-driven purchasing is gone. Stone asks that we recapture the feeling, the brand essence, and communicate real passion to the marketplace again. After all, if all retail focuses on price, where is the differentiated benefit – are marketers doing their brands justice? Why kill the customer’s mood? At the end of the day – there’s always someone willing to go cheaper…

Fortunately, opportunities may grow for retail emotional promotions and purchasing. According to Troy Carroll (CEO of Intava retail technology;, 2010 trends grow with larger electronic, and interactive, signage in-store. Likewise, mobile in-store interaction becomes more popular. That is, physical stores are providing shopping experience mobile apps, and customers are accessing these while in-store. Now if retailers can just focus on improving the emotional, multi-sensory brand experience with this interactivity as opposed to killing the sale with pricing wars, maybe retail can see real gains again.

– Jake Aull

For additional reading on in-store digital promotions,