InStore, InStyle – Marketing in Retail Stores Using Digital Media

Dawn Aurora - March-April 2010 IssuePublished in Dawn, Aurora, March – April, 2010

Over the last decade broader socio-economic changes, including growth in the urban middle class and disposable incomes have given rise to the modern retail sector in Pakistan.  There has been a marked decrease in traditional ‘kiryana’ stores, an increase in general stores and the emergence of new formats such as superstores, malls and retail chains to cater to the increasingly time-compressed consumer[1].Instore Marketing

Even a few years back, the concept of in-store marketing did not exist in this country. Yet today due to the fragmentation of traditional media and the tremendous clutter of information assaulting today’s consumer, stores are emerging as a viable alternative to the challenging mass-market advertising environment. They’ve quietly become a hotbed of advertising activity as more and more brands, big or small shift to in-store advertisement, providing effective and direct communication to the customers.

“Currently all our marketing activities are sponsored by our suppliers. Roughly speaking [instore marketing] accounts for 2 to 5% of Makro’s revenue. Instore marketing also include Makro-mail, which is fortnightly published and distributed to top 5000 customers as well as to all concerned suppliers and stakeholders.” said Salman Zafar, Asst. Category Manager at Makro Pakistan.

Research indicates that over 70% of decisions are made in-store or at the ‘First Moment Of Truth’[2] which is why marketers are increasingly seeking ways to control what ad messages their customers see and what information they access for making purchase decisions increasingly through digital media – one of the primary digital vehicles being used in-store is Digital Signage, one of the staples of modern trade outlets.

Through the use of Digital Screens / Retail TV and Interactive Kiosks, marketers are increasingly targeting consumers looking to learn about new product offerings, recipe ideas, advertised specials, etc. Fast Moving Consumer Goods brands in food, dry food and non food segments are most active industries in this space and actively use digital signage to differentiate their brands and provide customers a break from the rather mundane shopping experience.

Amongst the innovators in this category, has been Dalda Foods Pvt. Ltd. Recently in Ramadan, they launched an ‘Activation’ across Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad using Digital ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Interactive Kiosks. Using touch screens to provide instant play, software to control the inventory and multimedia to add excitement to their consumer offer (play and win on buying 10 KG of Dalda’s products), Dalda added entertainment to an otherwise mundane activity and the results of the activity backed their decision. In an otherwise crowded marketplace, these kiosks helped Dalda to differentiate from all the other brands out there using traditional formats.

Similarly, a high-end beauty products company utilized this medium to interact with their customers too. Using motion sensing technology called ‘Eye-Sense’ developed by Tuesday Digital, the digital characters would call out to the passerbys and get them to interact with the screens and products of the company. Aside from FMCG, PSO has also setup digital screens at its pumps, whilst banks such as Standard Chartered are experimenting by setting up live kiosks at their branches to give their customers a demo of their online banking facility.

These companies are not the only ones. Realizing the gains from going digital, retailers too are jumping on this band-wagon. Originally viewed as a potential incremental revenue stream and a way of sourcing more marketing rupees from brand manufacturers, digital instore formats are now also being seen as a way of differentiating the shopping experience and promoting their own offerings.

“Currently digital signages are not there in Makro, but yes Makro has plan of introducing them in future. In-store media can provide us with an effective way to increase revenue, both through higher average shopping baskets per customer visit and increased customer loyalty in terms of number of visits and what they regularly purchase while in that store during each visit”, Said Salman Zafar.

Aside from Digital Signage, another digital medium which is growing is the use of Mobile technologies in the retail environment. ‘BlueCasting is a relatively newcomer to advertising but stands to greatly change the way we market. The pioneers in this field are Mobilius who have developed ‘BlueStorm’, a proximity marketing tool which aims to engage the consumers. Using the technology marketers can broadcast pictures, audio, video and text within a 100m radius ensuring a very innovative and cost effective way of spreading the messages across thousands of people who visit these outlets. Since it’s fully mobile, BlueStorm” can be used to reach out to customers for special promotional campaigns like distributing redeemable coupons. It can also be utilized to organize promotional game shows such as treasure hunt at exhibitions/shopping malls or anywhere else, thank customers on exit and get instant feedback.Instore marketin

The future of this format is only expected to be bright. If the experience of Thailand is taken as a benchmark, one can expect that by 2010, modern formats particularly large supermarkets, hypermarkets, and convenience store chains will have captured about 25 per cent of the total retail market, and most of the middle and upper class markets. At the same time, one can expect that the number of outlets per thousand population would decrease from the current level of about fifteen down to ten. It is expected that the share of total retail sales held by both traditional kiryana and general stores would decrease from about current levels of 95 per cent to 50 per cent.[3]. Marketers are taking note.

“I think “the last mile” is becoming increasingly important even in Pakistan as categories go back towards commoditization with an endless supply of brands and the consumer lost between their choices. Especially for intangibles like telcos where data is the only thing that the consumer buys, it is much more convenient to deliver interactive ways to select and change package plans on the go”, said Tamseel Alvi, Brand Manager, Zong.

He continued “Retail is surely becoming a key “moment of truth” in terms of delivering brand experience. In terms of dedicated brand outlets, franchises and more so our customer support centers are becoming more like experience centers rather than just a sales outlet. In the rural sector, our mobile customer support centers are taking the retail outlet directly to the consumer”, Tamseel Alvi, Brand Manager, Zong

With the falling price of digital media gadgets and flexibility in content creation that only digital technology can offer innovative store technologies now allow grocery retailers to give consumers what they want: time and money savings. This is just the start of what digital can do for marketers and retailers.

“Retailers must make the jump to a totally integrated closed-loop model. To maximize return, retailers must deploy a macro system which seamlessly connects all in-store digital marketing with their POS and loyalty database systems [and if they don’t have any, they should start thinking about creating them] and in-store activation devices that connect customers in real-time to the retailer’s systems. What I’m talking about, is CRM applied at the store level. We call it transactional media, because it involves bringing together all the in-store marketing pieces in a coordinated customer-centric fashion to enhance the in-store shopping experience for consumers, increase sales transactions and build loyalty for retailers. What’s intriguing about this model is that by better serving their customers, retailers and brand marketers better serve themselves”, said Salman Abedin, CEO, Tuesday Digital.

As digital media  increasingly prove their effectiveness  — To retailers by turning their communication vehicles into steady revenue streams and to advertisers through better reach and targeting — the flood of interest and money will disrupt the status quo. This change will affect nearly all in-store marketing players, from agencies to retailers and everyone in between. Those that embrace the disruption stand to benefit the most.

[1] Mr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani, Consolidation In Pakistan’s Retail Sector.

[2] Source: POPAI, Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI)

[3] Mr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani, Consolidation In Pakistan’s Retail Sector.


From The Archives (2008) – Online Marketing & Kids

Online Marketing & Kids
Published Dawn, Aurora Magazine, September, 2008

by Umair Mohsin

Imagine a giant commercial that kids can enter, where they can talk and play with products and brand mascots / characters, a commercial that gives marketers access to a plethora of information about individual kids who interacted with their brand, including knowing their inner-most dreams and desires. This is the power of the immersive worlds that marketers can create on the World Wide Web, a medium which is fast becoming an important marketing tool in Pakistan.

Current kids (age under 12) in Pakistan are becoming the first totally wired generation of our country, especially the ‘millennials’ (children born in or after year 2000), for whom the internet and mobile technologies have always been there. Increasingly because of this factor the difference between online, digital and offline medium is fast disappearing. Trouble arises however when one wants to estimate the number of kids online. According to the latest figures released by PTA the total number of Internet subscribers crossed 3.5 million and total number of users crossed the 17 million mark in December 2007. The growth rates in telecom and broadband that our country is going through has put us in the top 10 fastest growing countries in Asia – 8.861% growth in internet users between year 2000 & 2007 alone. However specific data related to kids or their online usage is still not available from any agency. At best, we can guesstimate the size of the users by looking at the statistics from various websites and initiatives undertaken in Pakistan. The biggest success story of online marketing to kids is P&G and Commander Safeguard. The total number of kids who registered themselves for access to Commander Safeguard’s online material on the website numbered two million whilst it was on the air. A more recent data is that of, an international website on which approx. three million impressions are generated monthly by a Pakistani audience aged between 7-15 years of age. Also recently Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant Google Pakistan on his personal website/blog @ estimated that around 5% of the Pakistani users online are less than 20 years of age. It’s hard to gauge which figure represents the truest picture, but it can be safely assumed however that the number of users in Pakistan below the age of 12 in Pakistan has crossed the millionth mark.

This is important for marketers because with kids influencing the purchase of billions of Rupees worth of products (see Aurora Article – Meet Generation NOW & Whose Afraid Of New Media), this audience is clearly an important part of the marketing mix. Kids may not have the spending power of adults but there is little doubt about their ability to influence purchases through ‘Pester Power’.  It can also be easily assumed that kids with the most access to the net also belong to the SEC classes with the highest spending power.

To date there are few examples of online marketing initiatives aimed at kids in Pakistan which one can use to identify best practices or key learning however one of the most-oft repeated tactics that marketers have employed in targeting kids online is to combine advertising with entertainment. Traditional advertisements don’t work on the Internet, so advertisers seamlessly blend advertising content with games and / or other activities. This engages children interactively, allowing them to react to the content provided by the marketer and participate in online environments. This branded entertainment, particularly games (also called advergames), have thus become the tool of choice for marketers.

For children, an “advergaming” website can be more than a place to play and to explore. As a form of mediated communication, it departs in significant ways from television, the medium advertisers have traditionally used to reach children and which engages children only as passive consumers. The adver-gaming medium is much more powerful than that. Online games can provide a more highly involving and entertaining brand experience than is possible with conventional media. We can even characterized these as “virtual amusement parks”, where there are no natural breaks between commercial and non-commercial content typical of television which allows kids to escape the core marketed message with the single press of a button. Here the message is the experience.

At a more fundamental level, marketers have also used the immersive world to serve as a central organizing platform for an entire integrated marketing communications program. It can and has been used to create synergies among various brand building programs so that the total impact is greater than it would otherwise be. Internet here is not displacing television viewing but rather supplementing it. Children already are doing more “media multi-tasking” or using multiple types of media simultaneously which gives marketers an ideal opportunity to ensure that the core message is heard across all mediums. This best example of this is the recent Energile campaign.

Unilever has shown a leadership stance in this, utilizing both of the tactics successfully with the launch of This initiative was made part of the Energile Youth Football Championship (EYFC) 2008 which heralded the beginning of Energile’s commitment to football in Pakistan. Partnering with brands such as Nike and Karachi United FC, the aim was to set up at a grassroots level, a forum where the best young talent of the country can showcase their talent. Aside from other features, the site utilizes an ‘adver-game’ highlighting its core energy message and the football platform. Unilever’s integrated this campaign further by developing ‘Energile Football’, a mobile game that can be downloaded by consumers in Pakistan. This game was recently promoted through SMS and internet advertising, and allowed consumers to post their hi-scores through fugumobile’s (developers) proprietary Game Tournament platform. High scorers were then eligible to win prizes from Energile. So far Unilever has kept mum about the results of the initiative but looks set to grow it further.

From a historical perspective this is nothing new. Companies creating branded content to appeal to kids is as old as the first days of television. However what is different in these virtual worlds that changes the equation for brand marketers is that a child’s interaction and emotional engagement is very high. Young consumers have to seek out desired content and interact with it in some way. This is an inherently active process: surfing through a website demands a continuing series of decisions and actions. It is this feature that distinguishes the Internet from a more passive medium like television. Rather than capturing children’s attention for 30 seconds, the advertiser may now actively engage children for several minutes and maybe more.

Beyond its power to create brand engagement, however, the Internet also has several additional advantages from a marketer’s perspective. First, it is a cost-effective way to deliver a brand message. While the cost to air a television commercial ranges from approximately Rs. 0.60 per thousand viewers (depending on channel, time slot, frequency, budget, etc), there are no media distribution costs once a website has been created. Once development costs are spread across the number of users interacting with the site, the cost per thousand will be significantly decreased and will continue to do so as the site expands. So there are real economic efficiencies to be gained.

Secondly, the technology of the Internet also provides audience tracking capabilities. While it can be difficult for a marketer to gauge the impact of a television commercial, the Internet allows a much more precise assessment via measures such as the number of visitors, time spent on a site, repeat visits, etc. Traditional marketing tools such as diaries or even people meters may give advertisers a general idea of their audience profile, in terms of age and maybe gender but individual children are anonymous. Internet marketers on the other hand are able to collect data about specific users, through the use of online registration forms, quizzes and surveys.

Thirdly, TV advertisers purchase time slots between TV shows, which they select because they hope their product or service will appeal to the same audience the programs attract. On the Internet, brands create their own programming. They build entire online environments to create associations with their own products, to establish brand loyalty, and to collect information about their present and future customers. Just some of the methods that can be used by advertisers to involve kids with their products include the creation of virtual environments that make kids feel as if they are entering an actual place, friendly cartoon mascots that encourage kids to identify with the brand, interactive games and activities like coloring pages, quizzes featuring brand-name products and their characters, downloadable screensavers or email “postcards” that can be sent to other kids, clubs that kids can join or contests they can enter to win prizes. Even the prizes that are offered can feature product logos, slogans or characters.

One thing is changing for sure however because of which marketers in Pakistan cannot afford to maintain the status quo. Thanks to the online medium, creating a clear profile of your kid’s audience is no longer a straight-forward marketing exercise that falls into simple categories. The only common denominator that exists in this group is the fact that they’re all kids. The similarities stop there. Kids often have one type of image at home and a totally different image online (Please see Aurora Article “Cats Don’t Bark“ published) and marketers will need to learn how to cater to both.  One brand which maybe regarded as totally cool in say a kid’s school maybe regarded as the opposite in a virtual world. This is simply because online dynamics are different, since the audience is behaving under different conditions. Their identities are changed with perhaps totally different friends and thus they have different needs. Thus they may adopt completely different attitudes towards brands that will appear contradictory.

Thus it is essential that the link between the product, brand values, online & offline marketing vehicles and relevance is clear at all times. Relevance itself will have two dimensions. First in relation to the particular personality segment you are addressing, and second, to your core brand values. If you don’t fulfill both aspects, it’s more likely you’ll end up tuned out and turned off.

There have been exercises by many marketers who have tried to enter this medium but without an understanding of its dynamics. They’ve felt the need to break through by creating a really disruptive experience for their target users. This is a world where the audience does not like to be disrupted however and no one hates it more than our kid’s audience. A disruptive advertising experience in their space is equivalent to creating a bad brand experience. They want respect and will only respect those brands that show them that.

For kids more and more “Going on the Internet” is ceasing to be something special and unique simply because now it’s always there and becoming an inherent part of their lives. They are increasingly immersed in the “digital” lifestyle and in the future this will change the world of marketing, technology and communications. The challenge is for marketers to understand that not only their media but their whole world is now fragmenting. Life for today’s kids increasingly resembles one of those ubiquitous blogs that go up every second: random, breathless and intensely personal. To market to this dynamic population, companies will need to tap into platforms well beyond traditional media such as broadband video, immersive environments, mobile marketing and maybe even instant messaging.

Thus marketers should start to engrain themselves in kids’ interactive lives. Youth marketing currently is already flushed with sponsored events, games, contests and ringtone promotions yet today’s teens are more sophisticated, demanding and powerful consumers than their parents ever were. Tomorrow’s teens will be even more so because they’ve been wired from the day they were born and it will take a lot more to appeal to them. That’s why it’s very important to learn to live in their world from now.

From The Archives (2008) – Marketing 2.0

Marketing 2.0
Published Dawn, Aurora, Jul 2008

by Umair Mohsin

What is the future of advertising? Simply there isn’t any. At least not as we know it. Trever Edwards, the vice president of Nike in October, 2007, sounded the death knell for the traditional ways of how we advertise, when he said “We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive, we’re in the business of connecting with consumers”.

Worldwide, the trends are the same. In the US, the country’s third-largest advertiser (General Motors) is getting ready to shift fully half of its $3 billion budget into digital and one-to-one marketing within the next 3 years. P&G Canada, has vowed to boost online spending from 3% of its media budget to as much as 20% for the company’s fiscal year that starts July 1. How soon before P&G Pakistan will follow suit? Research shows that 65% of all marketing spend in Asia in 2007 had no effect on the consumer. Yet still 70% of all Asian marketers are not tracking the effectiveness of their spending, many simply because they don’t know how to.

Yet as more and more consumers integrate digital technology into their daily lives, they are also increasingly exercising control of how they view, interact with and filter advertising in a multichannel world.  Already the integration of technology (multi-screen media consumption) is changing how we look at consumers. No longer are marketers describing consumption of content as being off-line and online or traditional and new but where and how the media is being consumed. The demarcation lines between old and new media have officially been eliminated. TV is increasingly being described as “lean back” interaction, as users are typically relaxing in the living room environment with a remote control in one hand. This is in contrast to the similarly slick marketing devised descriptor of the more active, personal computer-oriented “lean forward” experience of a keyboard, mouse and monitor especially used with gaming & consoles. The third form of media consumption is ‘On-The-Go’ with services such as Mobile TV provided by Telenor, digital outdoor & POS (such as 3M Vikuiti in Pakistan) or gaming gadgets like Sony PSP leading the way. It doesn’t end here however. Technology does not change any form of content or its inherent linearity but it is shifting how we control the viewing of that content. DVRs are allowing users to time shift content. iTV such as PTCL Smart already allows on-demand media and interaction directly. Thus even in Pakistan, we have the hyper-fragmentation of the audience and more and more advertising will now have to become integrated across multiple platforms of the ‘Digital Lifestyle’ if it is to work. This is the underpinning of the rise of Marketing 2.0.

Simply put if the web 2.0 is the network as a platform, spanning across all connected devices like PCs, mobiles, gaming consoles, etc, than Marketing 2.0 is about those platforms that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of these platforms. This is very different from the old school forms of marketing, especially since the old schools were not of an interactive nature.

The oldest marketing model was Transactional (communicate what it is and what it does) in its nature. The value was created by what the company was offering and consumers were passive buyers waiting to be targeted with offers. The role of the marketer was ‘to define & create value for firms’, whilst interaction with customers then meant researches or surveys of consumer’s habits.

In the second chapter of marketing, we were bombarded with the ‘Relationship marketing’ model whereby ‘maximizing the lifetime value of the consumer’ was the end goal of marketing. Firms focused to attract, develop and retain the most profitable consumer segments over the maximum number of years.

The new marketing 2.0 model is very different. With the rise of technology and gadgets, consumers have now became Pro-sumers, active participants in the marketing’s value creation. The 2.0 version is about creating ‘Tribes’ or Identification (Who you are) through experiences. This has been brought about through a confluence of a number of trends like participation (from consumer to creator), personalization & collaboration (from pushing content to pulling content), democratization of market access (from a few big advertisers to a lot of little ones) and richer online apps (from desktop apps to the internet cloud & rich media). The role of marketing 2.0 is ‘to engage customers in defining and co-creating value’ through Active Dialogue. Value is ‘maximizing the co-created experiences’.

What it means for marketers is that consumers are no longer at the end of the marketing process. They now refuse to just consume what the marketers throw at them and want to be an inherently part of the marketing process – being part of the conversation. Infact many consumers are becoming vendors themselves of products and even of media in some cases – the role of the traditional agency. Even in Pakistan, opinion formers are popping up in the most unexpected of places with blogs especially becoming very powerful in shaping consumer responses (google ‘PTCL Broadband’ or ‘Link Dot Net Problems’ for an idea). Borders between advertising and PR is blurring.

New marketing buzzwords like Engagement & Excitement are already following on the heels of this revolution, becoming the new mantra, whilst traditional metrics such as Reach & Frequency can no longer cater to measuring the quality of engagement and excitement that is now needed for marketing to these attention deficient consumers. With the beginning of the end of mass media, Advertisers already are starting to demand more individual-specific and involvement based measurements, putting increasing pressure on the traditional mass-market model. Already in Pakistan, the Marcom Mix is shifting from Exposure To Engagement through new formats such as branded entertainment featuring reality based shows (Princess of Pantene, Lux Style Awards, etc), branded adver-games (, branded portals (Tapal’s, branded talk shows (Nido Taare Humaray), branded game shows, On-ground activations and more. In light of this trend, I predict that the majority of advertising revenue will shift from impression-based formats to impact-based formats within the next five years.

With hyper-fragmentation, the PPC (Price Per Contact) Cost is also rising over time, so more and more marketers are demanding optimized media and sales based results. Expect the 2.0 terms like ROI, Cost Per Lead, Cost Per Conversion, Sales Funnel Consideration and Stickiness to enter our marketers jargon soon.

One of the keys to successful marketing in the 2.0 age is hooking into the Zeitgeist e.g. in Pakistan, over the last 12 months, Facebook has been the fastest growing search term on Google, a testament to the numbers of users from Pakistan joining the ‘Social Networking’ revolution, whilst the 2nd & 3rd Top most searched terms this year have been Urdu (showing how much people would value content in their language online) & Yahoo! respectively. The 6th most searched term is ‘games’ and 8th is wall-papers. is the 97th most popular site in Pakistan, lending credence to the revival of soccer in Pakistan. I don’t know how many marketers have noticed these insights. With the way things are going however, in the near future it’s not difficult to imagine, the marketer managing the impact of his campaign through a “dashboard” that delivers real-time metrics and analysis across all of their advertising platforms. Gone are the days of “hoping” advertising works. Marketing 2.0 is and will be a world where the marketer has full control of the effectiveness of their marketing spends.

The next 5 years will hold more change for the advertising industry than the previous 50 did. Increasingly empowered consumers, more self-reliant advertisers and ever-evolving technologies will redefine how advertising is sold, created, consumed and tracked. There is no question that the future of advertising & marketing will look radically different from its past. As advertising budgets shift to new formats and shape the future advertising market, control of marketing revenues and power will hinge on four key market drivers: attention, creativity, measures and advertising inventories. Whether agencies in Pakistan will be able to cope, I do not know.

Traditional advertising players – broadcasters, distributors and advertising agencies – will get squeezed unless they can successfully implement consumer, business model and business design innovation to incorporate these new realities of life – the trends toward creative populism, personalized measurements, interactivity, open inventory platforms and greater consumer control. This means that many of the skills and capabilities that were the mainstay of success in the past will need refinement, transformation or even outright replacement.

The printing press did for communication what the Internet is doing for marketing. Both changed the medium of mass communication and both revolutionized the way things get done. Digital technology is slowly but surely reaching critical mass in Pakistan and already we are beginning to see a merging of the “old” and the “new” ways. The push for control of attention, creativity, measurements and inventory will reshape the advertising value chain and shift the balance of power. For both incumbents and new players, it is imperative to plan for multiple consumer futures, craft agile strategies and build new capabilities before advertising as we know it disappears. Here’s some food for thought for those who still want to cling to the old ways of advertising. Our kids are already growing up with the ability to watch pretty much what they want when they want. As they get older, do you think they’re going to accept anything less than that?