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How to activate consumers to purchase

BY Dave Wendland

There’s been discussion for years about the “moment of truth” and whether the ultimate — and final — purchase decision is made at the shelf. Shopper behavior in a store has been studied, analyzed, hypothesized and debated. Some would argue there is too much stimuli at the shelf, others not enough. Some may suggest that retail pricing is the key deciding factor. Perhaps it’s category assortment, in-stock condition or shelf-edge signage. Still others suggest competitive positioning is the key determinant.

Given today’s plethora of product information available at a consumer’s fingertips and the influence of friends and family before shopping, I personally believe the moment of truth and consumer activation occurs before the shopper enters the store — if they enter a physical store at all to complete their intended purchase.

The new challenge for marketers may require capturing the consumers’ attention and winning their favor at their point of intersection with their pre-shopping homework and realm of personal influence. And, for the brand that is unable to capture this moment, the challenge is to dissuade consumers from purchasing the brand that rose to the top during their homework and pre-shop plans.

Brand engagement will drive purchasing behavior — now and in the future. Lip service without activation WILL NOT drive brand sales or market share during these difficult times.

Activation strategies with the greatest influence on today’s purchase behavior are:

1.    Advertising consumers like — where they like to receive it
2.    Cause-related marketing or community involvement
3.    Highly compelling promotional offers
4.    Connecting consumers with your brand one-to-one

Are these impossible tasks for consumer packaged goods manufacturers, brand managers or retailers? If not, how can focus be effectively recalibrated from the moment of truth to the moment of activation?


Dave Wendland is VP and co-owner of Hamacher Resource Group, a retail healthcare consultancy located near Milwaukee, Wis. He directs business development, product innovation and marketing communications activities for the company and has been instrumental in positioning HRG among the industry’s foremost thought leaders. You may contact him at (414) 431-5301 or learn more at Hamacher.com.

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Record Black Friday bodes well for holiday sales

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The recession grinch may have to pack it up this holiday season, as initial spending indicated that this year’s holidays are on track toward some pretty significant growth as compared with last year.

(THE NEWS: Black Friday proves to be record day for retail, NRF reports. For the full story, click here.)

Maybe it’s the "super deals" that many retailers presented even before the pumpkin pie was placed on the Thanksgiving table, as those retailers sought to get a jump start on Black Friday sales a day early. Or maybe the cool, dry November weather that was in stark contrast to the rain storms earlier in the month got people to walk off their holiday eating … in a retail setting. Or, maybe, it’s that "Last Christmas" message that end-of-the-world extremists are touting — better make sure that this year’s holiday season is extra jolly, because there won’t be another, they say. Happy Holidays!

Or maybe people are just spending again.

No matter the reason behind the spending, the fact that shoppers are spending bodes well for retailers who are looking to blow out some holiday merchandise this year. And it’s not just Black Friday that was hopping — analysts were projecting a pretty strong Cyber Monday, too. comScore on Sunday reported that for the holiday season to date (first 25 days of November), $12.7 billion have been spent online, marking a 15% increase versus the corresponding days last year.

On Black Friday there were $816 million in online sales, making it the heaviest online spending day to date in 2011, and representing a 26% increase versus Black Friday 2010. And it turns out that many people who didn’t want to join that pre-Black Friday shopping spree while the after-dinner coffee was brewing were satisfying that shopping bug online — Thanksgiving Day, while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 18% increase to $479 million in online sales, comScore reported.

The online Black Friday winners in terms of most-visited sites (and excluding auction sites) were, in order: Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple, according to comScore.

“Despite some analysts’ predictions that the flurry of brick-and-mortar retailers opening their doors early for Black Friday would pull dollars from online retail, we still saw a banner day for e-commerce, with more than $800 million in spending,” stated comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “With brick-and-mortar retail also reporting strong gains on Black Friday, it’s clear that the heavy promotional activity had a positive impact on both channels. We now turn our attention to Cyber Monday, a day that Shop.org says will see 8-in-10 retailers running special online promotions. Last year, Cyber Monday was the heaviest day of online spending ever, with sales exceeding $1 billion, and we fully expect to see another record set this year.”

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Retailers sue Federal Reserve

BY Marianne Wilson

NEW YORK — A coalition of retail organizations, including the National Retail Federation, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Association of Convenience Stores, have filed a lawsuit charging that the Federal Reserve failed to comply with a new law requiring it to reduce fees bank charge retailers when shoppers use credit cards.

The law, which went into effect Oct. 1, said that banks could charge a maximum of 21 cents when consumers use a debit card, down from an average of 44 cents per transaction.

The retail groups argue that the Reserve Board’s rules "have allowed big banks to continue charging unjustifiably high swipe fees" and are discouraging price competition among credit card networks, contrary to the requirements of the law.

The lawsuit alleges that the Fed — under pressure from the banks and card industry — included costs in that calculation that were barred by the law.

"Doing so has deprived merchants and their customers of the full extent of the swipe fee relief to which they were entitled," NRF said in a statement.

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