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The occasion opportunity

pepperjackShoppers are always seeking answers, and “occasions” are specific opportunities for retailers to provide benefits that make their lives better and easier.

Occasions can be used to drive category growth, and brands can use occasions to build relevance to the shopper – how the product can save them time, money or angst.

For more than a decade, UK retailers, including M&S and Tesco, have been offering shoppers good, fast, cheap options for the evening meal. In Australia, Woolworths has cited the expansion of its gourmet ready-meals as a key strategy to turn around the business, and estimates the prepared-meals sector outside foodservice channels is worth $22 billion a year.

How else are local brands tackling the occasion opportunity?

Making a meal of it 

Shopper marketing agency 31st Second helped the Campbell’s Real Soup brand reposition from stocks and slower cooking to midweek meals in minutes, through an integrated path-to-purchase program.

The campaign linked new flavours in soup bases to making specific dishes easy, such as Thai Chicken Noodle Soup. Touchpoints included retailer magazines, catalogues and displays online, in-store and off-location, as well as sampling opportunities and tear-off recipes.

Wine and meat pairing

In its POPAI award-winning campaign “Pepperjack Certified: The perfect match for prime cuts”, Zoo Republic overtly aligned the brand to a specific food occasion, helping shoppers decide to buy by demystifying the process of matching red wine to steak.

It worked: the product sold 40 per cent of its annual volume within the first two months of the launch, and at a relatively high RRP of $24.90 – showing that shoppers will pay more for a clear value proposition.

Seasonal occasions 

A key consideration in a good occasion-based shopper activation is easiness of execution for the retailer. This is particularly important for seasonal occasions like Christmas, when the retailer has more promotions on offer than available store space.

There were some smart solutions to this last year. The Mattel Christmas Pallet for Big W extended the retail space outside store, providing a multi-category Christmas gift destination with maximum cut-through and minimum campaign cost – and incredibly easy for the retailer. It turned out to be one of the largest temporary Christmas sidewalk promotions undertaken by a retail chain in Australia, and took out a POPAI award for creator Blue Star Display.

kinderAnother smart Christmas solution, in the liquor category, was the Jack Daniels Christmas tree by id8 Studio. The activation also solved a retailer problem: off-location shrinkage and breakage in the high-value glass category.

The 360 degree display resulted in 38 per cent sales uplift, at the same time winning POPAI Gold in its category. For Easter, a chocolate brand could be expected to take ownership of the occasion, which Ferrero did with its “Kinder Surprise Easter Spectacular”. This took out POPAI Gold for creator Sainsbury Displays, which devised a complete in-store destination for Easter.

Health support 

In the pharmacy space, Sanofi trialled the clever and pertinent Diabetes Health Hub – destination health support and information, and a one-stop-shop for non-prescription products to help people cope with diabetes. Category vitamin and supplement sales increased by 20 per cent, and the program took out POPAI Silver for creator EGR.

Occasion ultimately places the shopper need at the centre of the equation. Brand manufacturers that understand the shopper occasions for their brands, categories and products build relevance for the shopper, and a reason to be noticed among the 40,000-odd other SKUs in the store.

Experiential agency XPO Brands managing director Sally Tobin says the company has seen a dramatic increase in solutions-based occasion marketing, from dinner advice and breakfast occasions through to sun safety and cold and flu stations.

“These non-traditional retail occasion activations are gaining traction as they empathetically answer broader everyday needs for the shopper, rather than relying on gifting occasions a few times a year.”

Lee McClymont is GM of POPAI for Australia and New Zealand. This article appeared in the April edition of Inside FMCG magazine. Subscribe now

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