So what is Extended Merchandising™?
Well, first off, merchandising in its purest form is all about the “product”. Physical in-store merchandising is about making products look attractive, bringing out the best part of the packaging and kinda of showing off your product, so to speak! In its purest form, it’s giving that product the edge to sell more product. There are shelf displays, shelf talkers, point of purchase displays, you have planograms that put like-minded products next to each other essentially making it easier for the consumer to purchase the product being “merchandised”. There is a war inside a store trying to make products more appealing to the consumer. But the battle lines are changing!
Now, take the Nex-Gen consumer and the old way of physical in-store merchandising and you can see where there is actually a paradigm shift happening inside the store. The Nex-Gen consumer is walking down the aisle with their nose buried in their smartphone. They are not strolling through the aisles looking to be sold by the old way of Merchandising. Product information & product research is playing a bigger role in their purchase decision-making process. Those displays brands are spending money on may now be 10-15% less effective.
The Nex-Gen consumer is letting their smartphone lead. They are texting, researching price, products, an alternate place to purchase items etc.. How you Merchandise a product today is a total fundamental shift from the old way of merchandising. If the brand is not initiating a conversation with the consumer through a mobile-first strategy, then the consumer will initiate a conversation with the competitor or get the information they’re seeking from other providers. Today’s consumer wants a conversation to happen in the store. They want verified, transparent product information from the manufacturer, rating, incentives, social sharing. saving items for later purchases when they get home.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is taking the lead in the Extended Merchandising™ arena. They are asking their brands to participate in what they are calling the SmartLabel™ program that will allow Nex-Gen consumers to scan barcodes and QR codes and receive nutritional and other important product information in 2016. They have created uniformed guidelines for all the member brands to follow that will create a consistent look and feel for the end consumer. This will allow brands to extend the merchandising ( incentives, cross-promotions with other products, recipes, health tips etc) to the place where the consumer is looking for product information – the smartphone.