Best In Class Retail Activations

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Best In Class Retail Activations

Retail activations fall under the shopper marketing category and have been leveraged by all kinds and sizes of brands to avail its benefits. A few insights and case studies of in-store brand activation have been detailed below.

Insights Into In-Store Brand Activation

In-store brand activation is a well-known strategy adopted by brands to reach their target consumer. A few insights into the approach have been given below.

Digital vs. Tangible

  • Although digital marketing, which includes social media marketing, is thought to be the way to go when it comes to marketing, only 13% of retailers describe themselves as "digital-first".
  • The majority of retailers focus on brick and mortar as well as other traditional marketing.
  • Customer experience is the most important area of focus for 54% of retailers, while 16% focus on cross-channel marketing, 14% on data-driven marketing, 11% on mobile, and 4% on programmatic buying/optimization.

New Tactics

  • Large brands like Coca-Cola, Mondelez International, and others are making efforts to connect with customers in-store.
  • Although brands are increasing in-store presence, they are doing so with a twist to attract younger customers that are not attracted to traditional ways.
  • Brands are finding new ways to market to younger grocery shoppers. Many times, these ways include in-store digital innovations, e.g. in-store tracking, facial recognition, touch screens, etc.

Measuring Activation ROI

  • When it comes to measuring the impact of their activation campaigns, brands differ greatly in their approach and allocating their investments across programs, tactics, and retailers.
  • When investing in in-store activations, up to 84% of brands base their decision on the size and growth of the retailer.
  • According to a survey, only 52% of brands reported using measured ROI approaches in allocating their investments. The variety of tools available for measuring ROI also vary in terms of quality.
  • To be able to allocate investments across retailers, for brand activations, in a way that enables brands to drive the most impact with the desired shopper segments is something that only a few brands can master. In fact, only 35% of brands reported to be doing that.

Marketing Spend by Type

  • In 2016, the marketing spending by manufacturers was broken down 46.2% in trade promotion, 15.9% in digital, 15.5% in traditional advertising, 13.2% in shopper marketing, and 9.2% in consumer promotion.
  • In-store retail activations fall under the shopper marketing umbrella. Shopper marketing is defined by POPAI (Point of Purchase Advertising International) as "The application of shopper insights along the path to purchase, to affect purchase behavior in order to increase sales for both retailers and manufacturers."
  • As per retailers, digital (60%) was rated the lowest in terms of effectiveness, whereas shopper marketing (65%) was rated slightly higher than digital, while trade promotion (88%) topped the list.

A Shift in Shopper Marketing Spending

  • Back in 2014, the largest chunk (35.5%) of shopper marketing dollars were being thrown into merchandising and fixtures.
  • This has changed since then, and in 2016, in-store advertising (26.7%) and retailer-specific coupons/offers (23.9%) received greater attention in terms of spending.
  • In 2014, shopper marketing spending breakdown was 35.5% merchandising/fixtures, 18.6% retailer specific coupons/offers, 15.9% in-store advertising, 16.2% in-store events, and 9% sampling/demos.
  • In 2016, the breakdown was 16.3% merchandising/fixtures, 26.7% retailer specific coupons/offers, 23.9% in-store advertising, 8.3% in-store events, and 15.2% sampling/demos.

Case Studies

Brands have leveraged in-store activation in a number of clever and creative ways. A few case studies involving in-store brand activations have been outlined below.


  • Samsung launched the talking fridge in 2018, which can talk to the owner and convey helpful information. The company also used this feature to communicate with customers in-store.
  • In a store in Singapore, the fridge replaced the salesman by using its voice control software to engage with customers as they looked around it.
  • Using the voice feature, Samsung employed a number of strategies, i.e. allowing mindful consumers to make informed decisions by looking around the fridge and gathering information through the voice control software, using multi-sensory immersion to captivate the customers' imagination using the voice as well as a visual display, and integrating seamless self-service to convey information without the need for a salesman.
  • The campaign was successful and the average customer interaction time with the fridge was more than 3 minutes. Other than that, it helped exceed sales targets by 67% and increasing brand recall by 136%.


  • Philips came up with a campaign idea to express love to fathers on Father's Day. The campaign started with a film launched on Philips Home Living's Facebook page in Singapore. The online activation was then followed with an in-store activation, where people could create a personalized gift for their fathers.
  • The gift was a shaver with a highly personalized instruction manual. People were photographed using the shaver and the photos were used to create the personalized instruction manual.
  • Philips leveraged smart personalization to attract customers to buy their product and gift it to their fathers on Father's Day.
  • The campaign was shortlisted as one of the favorite Father's Day campaigns by Marketing Interactive. The campaign had a 3.6% engagement rate as compared to the average 1-3% and it reached as many as 91,213 people.


  • Fitbit sent trained brand ambassadors to local stores in Gauteng and Cape Town in South Africa. The brand ambassadors were equipped with detailed knowledge about Fitbit devices.
  • The activation was carried out in stores including Sportman's Warehouse and Incredible Connection stores.
  • The brand ambassadors raised awareness among potential customers by empowering them with the device's unique selling points and enabled them to make informed decisions.
  • As per detailed feedback in the post-campaign report, the campaign was successful.


  • Amazon created a campaign for Alexa Echo at Dixons stores. The campaign was to place playtables in the stores and market their smart home product to the consumers.
  • The activation took place at Dixons stores in the UK in 2018.
  • The idea behind the campaign was to allow consumers to make informed decisions and to captivate their imagination through the use of multi-sensory immersion.
  • The campaign met its objectives and the results were satisfactory. 92% of users who tested the prototype were interested in what they saw and their understanding/perspective for Alexa products changed.


  • Yamaha developed a Soundbar display unit and placed it in retail stores of consumer electronics retailer PC World and Curry's.
  • Yamaha's objective was to first attract consumers using visuals and then engage them through interactive demonstrations.
  • The activation was so successful in the UK that the company considered developing another 800 units to be displayed at other retailers across Europe. Originally, the 50 units that were developed had been shipped to PC World and Curry's locations across the UK.
  • Martin Torbuck, Yamaha's national accounts manager for the AV Division, said, "It is difficult to give any quantifiable sales uplift data based on the time of year the stands were installed, which coincided with the peak shopping period and during our main promoter campaign. However, what I can say with certainty is that the stands have been really well-received by the Buying Team at Dixons and the store teams have confirmed that positive anecdotal feedback has been received during the promoter campaign on the use and benefit of the stands."

Hungry Puffs

  • Food Bank is a food relief organization in Australia. When its funding was cut in half by the government, Hungry Puffs came up with an idea to support the organization to fulfill their food fulfillment targets and also to elevate their brand in the process.
  • Hungry Puffs developed an empty box of cereal, asked consumers to purchase it for $5, and promised to feed 10 children for every box purchased. The results were outstanding and the campaign became a phenomenon and was very well-received by the public, media, and even politicians.
  • The company created an empty box of cereal that contained nothing, which no one would otherwise purchase. However, the company gave the mindful consumers the information they needed and left the decision to them.
  • In a course of just 4 weeks, the company had already served 625,770 meals to children. The campaign generated an ROI of 1973% and donations were increased 2.4 times as compared to the previous year. Hungry Puffs, which was stocked in 42 supermarkets in 2018, was stocked in 208 supermarkets in 2019 as a result of the campaign.

Plaza Vea

  • Plaza Vea is a supermarket chain in Peru with its presence in other countries of the world. During the football world cup in Russia, about 60k fans traveled to Russia to watch their team play. Plaza Vea took notice and introduced a campaign in their stores that were located in cities where Peru was playing and where Peruvian fans were most likely to be found.
  • Since prices in Russia are expensive as compared to Peru, the company introduced reduced prices at their stores only for Peruvian people, which they could avail by showing their ID cards.
  • This generated a lot of attention for the brand across the world and a total of 65 million impressions, $2.5 million in earned media, and 98% positive mentions.
  • The campaign, named Perussian Prices, leveraged smart personalization to attract customers and to elevate the brand.
  • Consumers were very happy and even nationalities other than Peru were looking to find discounted rates at the store.


  • OMO, a detergent company, developed tags that could be used as a detergent. The tags were 100% water-soluble and good enough to clean 3 dirty garments.
  • The company showcased more than 5,000 tags at Sports Forever stores, which is a sporting goods chain in Lebanon. They also made a film to engage customers through media.
  • The campaign's results were successful with a 45% increase in positive sentiment, a 71% increase in OMO's online mention, 93% of consumers who engaged with the campaign were expected to buy OMO in their next visit.
  • Analyzing the strategy, it can be said that the company allowed consumers to make informed decisions by allowing them to test the product and used multi-sensory immersion to captivate consumers through the film.

Research Strategy

We have identified case studies of brands that have developed creative campaigns for in-store activations. Examples of brands have been taken from multiple countries around the globe. We have focused primarily on consumer electronics brands, however, a few other brands were also considered because of the exceptional ideas and the unavailability of further case studies of electronics brands. For each case study, a brief analytical explanation has been provided that outlines the strategy adopted by the brand for the activation. We have also provided consumer response to the campaigns as well as success metrics, wherever available.