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How Point Of Purchase-first thinking is a gateway to consumer connection and future-proof brand building
In a world of empowered consumers, ever more scrupulous with their attention capital, brands that re-imagine their most versatile, agile, and often overlooked touchpoints through design, can unlock enormous potential.
From building brand salience, encouraging organic amplification and building unilateral adoption, Point of Purchase design can create new and deeper relationships with consumers.
In a world where more and more markets are falling under the shadow of regulations, the future of ATL-led communications isn’t clear as day. Alcohol, neo-tobacco, convenience foods and other categories with nuanced moralistic discussion are at the fore of a changing tide of sentiment for OOH. The pace at which legislation can match innovation or indeed regulate potential harm, means mass-media comms is at risk of redundancy.
The booze blueprint can give us some lateral insight to what – at its most extreme – may be on the horizon across sectors. Whilst Sri Lanka, Russia, Turkey and Norway set precedent for total alcohol ad bans, nuanced and hyper-localised legislation is beginning to play out.
Scotland is due a public consortium for a full-space ban and Bristol successfully enforced an alcohol advertising ban on all council-owned media space in 2021. There are increasing restrictions which are enforced over a certain alcohol-content percentages (Sweden), those that relate to the communication of lifestyle and associated emotions (France), and those that have strict limitations on adult-adjacent placement (US).
There are obvious parallels for how quickly and effectively levies can obstruct ATL-adjacent channels. When it comes to this looming constraint, defence is the best form of attack. Reconsidering how we distribute our resources is not beneficial, it’s vital.
Big ad campaigns of course have their place but understanding their limitations and abilities is key to efficient usage.
The nature of mass-broadcast comms is taking a simplified brand message to an incredibly wide audience. This same audience, in the UK at least, is bombarded by some 5000 ads per day. All of which, though increasingly, and perhaps alarmingly, better targeted are not necessarily on direct or parallel paths to purchase. We arrive at a dichotomy where the intimacy and intricacy is sacrificed for reach.
However, once consumers are within purchase environments, we know they’re incredibly pliable to suggestion. 82% of buying decisions – in the context of FMCG shopping at least – are made at the point of purchase.
They undoubtedly have an interest in the category, and by virtue of their presence in retailers, are consenting to being interacted with. We’re talking to those sitting in the pews as opposed to shouting outside the church hoping they come in.
Design that is rooted in an ATL campaign is often like leading the service off a hymn sheet and not the bible...
Agencies are often asked by clients to translate ATL to BTL. Sometimes this is a simple task but, more often than not, they end up trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole.
ATL campaigns often have other strategic agendas, seasonal comms and specific marketing targets that aren’t relevant across all retail environments or don’t cater to its nuance and strengths. With all the inevitable compromises that this involves, it dilutes the effectiveness of our BTL comms.
The brands that get it right are those that start with a core brand idea, with relevant teams round the table when this is being developed, collaborating to create a unified campaign and executions that unmistakably translate the essence of the brand.
This approach has the additional benefit of enabling the global brand team to present a unified, coherent strategic framework for all to execute consistently, rather than doing their own thing.
If design is an afterthought, we risk creating brands that are only as strong as the campaign behind them.Alixanne Hucker, Strategist, Missouri Creative
If we consider every point of purchase touchpoint as its own highly effective brand building platform, what can we stop doing with ATL and start doing with BTL and vice versa?
If design is an afterthought, we risk creating brands that are only as strong as the campaign behind them. When we integrate narrative-centric design from the offset, we create brands that can endure the highs and lows of campaign cycles and spark multiple creative executions uniting ATL, BTL, in-store and online, optimising brand where it matters most.
The benefits for brands are numerous. It involves significantly less spend compared to traditional ATL and depending on retail arena is often quicker to execute. Its proximity to consumer creates the ability to unlock new layers of emotional intimacy alongside giving brands flex with seasonal marketing goals, with the accessibility of change with each touchpoint. And last but not least, it creates effective translation across markets.
The power of pouring thought into these localised touchpoints, can influence choices at a molecular level to an incredibly engaged audience, in a way that can create unilateral adoption, build brand saliency and encourage organic amplification.
Whether this design is on-trade trinketry, an activation in your local supermarket, an item in your virtual shopping basket, or one on your real-life shelf, your brands’ ability to win share of audience and build affinity should be considered from the Point Of Purchase up, not the billboard-down.
· Dark markets and restrictions on above the line media are on the rise across all categories. Brands that work atl-first are at risk of getting caught short.
· ATL-first thinking doesn’t leverage BTL execution effectively and risks creating weak brands where they’re most salient.
· If we want a unified brand and campaigns that are effective, we need collaborative thinking from inception.
*Image left: In the Norwegian dark market, the social beer of Oslo, Ringnes, communicates its kinship, local heritage and 200 years of brewing expertise all from pack alone.
*Image right: For Tony’s Chocolonely the central narrative of slave-free chocolate captures attention on-shelf to in-hand, and even in-bar. Their core idea isn’t diluted across any touchpoint but designed with each in mind.
*Image below: Alternative vape brand Ripple Co takeover a Shoreditch newsagent, their cloudy blue sky store-wrap evokes their brand world of nicotine free diffusers.
Alixanne is Missouri’s resident strategist, hailing from a background in brand design and Challenger positioning, alongside copywriting for brands and publications in a multitude of sectors – Food & Beverage, Entertainment, Tech, Tourism, Retail, NFP and Beauty.
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