Already, brands are
shifting their above-the-line (ATL) spend to in-store media opportunities. The
importance of visibility at retail outlets that have significant footfall
cannot be overstated. Never has the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ been
more relevant. If consumers do not see a brand and get the opportunity to
experience it for themselves, chances are that they will opt for a competitive
product who is providing an experience.
International research indicates that more than a third of consumers rank
in-store browsing as their main product discovery activity. This is in stark
contrast to five years ago when a quarter of shoppers said television ads were
their main source of product discovery. So, even though digital (in the online
sense) is important, brands must not ignore the opportunities provided by the
Even though we are rapidly approaching an era of blended online and retail
store experiences, many brands locally are focusing on maximising their return on
investing in-store. South Africa is leading the charge on the continent and is
on par with what is happening in more developed countries. Granted, the country
cannot yet compete with some of the technology-driven platforms being used in
the United States and United Kingdom, for example, it is more a case of
regulation limitation than an unwillingness to adapt.
Other countries are not yet as strict on data collection as South Africa, so
they tend to be more flexible in targeting shoppers, although this is shifting.
With the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), local brands are under
scrutiny regarding their use of data collection and are limited in sharing it
with third parties.
However, one of the spin-off benefits of online is an increasing expectation
from consumers for brands to effectively use digital in-store media. Everything
from display screens to on-shelf video and a call to action at the
point-of-sale are generally accepted as value-added contributions that help
guide the decision-making process. More information easily accessible in the
moments that matter contribute to consumer confidence.
Of course, we are not quite at the stage of combining an online e-commerce
shopping experience with in-store personalisation but the touch-points for
consumers to engage with at the retail outlet are increasing, along with their
Having said that, an evolution needs to occur from boring digital displays to
ones driving engagement. Doing something impactful and different from
competitors is vital, something at the heart of Smart Media’s innovations.
Fortunately, in-store digital media means that content can be remotely changed
to instantly reflect new campaigns and up-to-date messages. This is a far more
cost-effective way of driving change than in the past.
While there is still much work to be done to keep attracting consumer
attention, South African brands and their associated in-store digital
experiences are on the right path.