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You may have heard of offsite retail media. How about offline?
Retail media holds out the opportunity that brands and marketplaces can reach customers with advertising, anywhere that there’s a screen. Through a new partnership, that capability is extending to the store.
Kroger is set to add smart screens to 500 stores, bringing retail media activations to aisles and checkout lines.
It’s the result of an expanded partnership with Cooler Screens, a company that developed software and enabling hardware to provide advertising and analytics on in-store screens. The company started by developing screens for the cooler doors of frozen food sections, but has since expanded to other areas of the store, like endcaps, banner aisles or existing screens.
Kroger and Cooler Screens piloted the technology for three years, and set out to determine whether they could improve customer experiences through interactive media and digital merchandising. The companies now have conviction that the content available on screens can enable consumers to make “better-informed decisions based on their own preferences, diets, health needs, budgets and lifestyles,” according to an announcement detailing the activation.
In turn, providing in-store retail media allows brands to reach consumers while they are shopping at a brick-and-mortar location. It extends the digital ad opportunities available via ecommerce to a new channel. Unlike a traditional static display ad, digitally-powered retail media is measurable, and Cooler Screens said it offers tools that help brands provide contextually relevant promotions and product information, as well as analytics on performance.
Kroger has made retail media a central part of its digital strategy. The grocer provides advertising through the Kroger Precision Marketing arm, and customer insights through its 84.51° data science team. Executives have talked about how retail media is helping the company unlock new, high-margin business lines, and see the growth of available data as a key driver of the company’s proposed merger with Albertsons.
“We’re excited about this continued collaboration as it extends our vision for the future of retail media, offering brands another powerful marketing lever inside the store,” said Cara Pratt, senior vice president at Kroger Precision Marketing, in a statement. “Cooler Screens shares and further enables this vision by bringing the best of digital experiences directly into our retail stores while integrating with our 84.51° data science platform to create an engaging and valuable experience for our customers, associates, and brands.”
Cooler Screens said it reaches more than 90 million viewers monthly in stores. Along with Kroger, customers include Walgreens and Giant Eagle’s GetGo convenience stores.
While retail media is primarily a means of advertising on ecommerce marketplaces today, the expanded appearance of advertising on in-store screens underscores how the first-party data that powers it can be foundational for a growing range of channels.
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Trending in Retail Media
Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.