Customer Care

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Providing in-store guidance, advice and direction for shoppers may be a missed opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell and, most important, cement relationships.

Effective in-store marketing isn’t about what the retailer or the consumer packaged goods marketer wants a shopper to buy; rather, it’s about targeting the customers’ needs while they are in the store — and helping them make informed decisions about what to buy.

Some retailers lead with price, which at times is understandable. Most of the time, however, what attracts a shopper varies. There are customers who shape their buying decisions on price because of necessity. Then there are others for whom price is just one part of the decision-making process. And there are those retailers who attract customers based solely on their specialty, like organic foods, where price does not control the shopper’s decision at all.

No matter what the price sensitivity of the shopper may be, there are things a retailer can do to create loyal customers. Developing an in-store, customer care marketing plan holds the unique power to precisely guide, advise and direct the shopper in his or her final moment of decision.

At the heart of an effective plan lies the capacity to respect and connect with your customer base and their needs, while still growing your revenue. Providing customers with a shopping experience based on friendliness, helpfulness and clarity will stay with them long after they leave the store.


Here are two in-store marketing methods that can make the most of your ad dollars while still fulfilling the plan.

  1. The shelf-level video commercial offers a highly interactive approach, speaks to a variety of customer types, and is especially effective at encouraging spontaneous shoppers. It provides in-depth information for inquiring customers who are ready to buy. For example, video makes it possible to speak out to older customers who cannot always read small print, or meet the needs of non-English speaking customers who rely on visual images for product information.

  2. Informative labels at the shelf-edge increase shopper awareness and drive volume at the point of decision. Displaying key pricing and product information coupled with a clear, bold sales message proves a value-added convenience. Building in integrated marketing messages at multiple touch points throughout the shopping trip keeps the desired brand at the forefront of the customer’s mind.

A good example is the health and wellness movement that is very popular, but can be confusing. If something is labeled “organic,” is it the same as “natural”?

Is there a meaningful difference between “frozen,” “fresh” and “free-range” poultry? Retailers can easily incorporate easy-to-read, data-driven, integrated shelf communications that operate as color-coded nutrition “flags” to identify foods that meet special dietary needs, such as gluten free, healthy kids, organic and/or heart healthy.


Personalizing marketing efforts isn’t just for printed business communications. To make the most of a customer-focused marketing campaign, retailers’ messages and images need to be consistent. Creating an in-store marketing plan that is strategically responsive to customer needs allows retailers and consumer packaged goods companies to create the ultimate win-win: a swift, pleasurable and beneficial experience for their customers and greater sales volume and brand loyalty for themselves.

Tim McKenzie is president and COO of Vestcom International, Inc., a provider of shelf-edge communications and specialized marketing services for retailers. He can be reached at

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