With a decreased shelf life of ATL campaigns from six months to about two months now, marketers are looking at economic and effective alternatives for promoting consumer durables. In a high involvement category like consumer durables, where the consumer spends much of time at the store, marketers are using the last point as a final attempt to lure the consumer. Hence in-shop consumer activities â€“ Product Points of Sales Materials (POSM) and better trained In-shop demonstrators (ISDs) â€“ is on the rise, and companies like Voltas, LG and Whirlpool indicate that their in-store activation budgets have been upped by as much as 20 per cent compared to last year.
Voltasâ€™ both in-shop and market activation budgets have seen a sharp increase and currently stands at 20 per cent â€“ 25 per cent of its overall marketing budgets.
Having said that Deba Ghoshal, Marketing Head, UPBG, Voltas feels that the efforts one needs to put behind effectively implementing and monitoring an in-shop activation plan is much higher than traditional media activation. But thankfully for him, the results are much more tangible, and can be monitored through sales.
â€œWith 90 per cent of the consumer durables in India being sold through multi-brand outlets (dealers and sub-dealers), it is imperative that right kind of efforts and monies are invested towards in-shop branding and in-shop demonstrators (ISDs),â€ says Ghoshal, adding, â€œToday, the final brand choice for a customer depends upon how a specific model is demonstrated and explained to him at the point of sale.â€
Meanwhile, LGâ€™s inclination towards BTL has come at a rise of 15 per cent as compared to last year. According to Sanjay Chitkara, CMO, LG India, â€œDespite the high brand recall, LG feels that the process cannot be completed unless there is direct customer engagement, in-shop demonstration.â€
Having upped the ante already this summer â€“ a season when the demand for cooling units, refrigerators and air-conditioners soars â€“ LG is expecting a growth of 20-25 per cent in its sales.
The job for the marketer is cut-out â€“ induce trials and convert walk-ins into tangible secondary sales (dealer sell-outs). Irrespective of high brand recall or brand equity, which any durable brand may enjoy in the market, the process is never completed until and unless the lead or the query gets converted into a specific brand choice, at the point of sale.
Sharad Sarin, Senior Marketing Professor at XLRI, Jamshedpur, says, â€œAt the end, the challenge is to make communication work and this requires following an integrated marketing communication approach. Marketers can achieve a judicious balance between ATL and BTL as it can never be either/or for consumer durables.â€
According to Anindya Banerjee, Executive Creative Director at Scarecow Communications, â€œCompanies are increasingly looking at other avenues for having a conversation with the consumer. In many cases, spending below the line gives you a better return on investment than ATL.â€
Also, the retail space is the final battleground for any product (FMCG or otherwise). He further says that the consumer might have seen all your ATL activity, but the push comes to shove always at the retail space. It is critical for a brand to have a presence there.
Whirlpool is expecting its BTL spends to go up by 15-20 per cent than the previous year, which includes adding more hands-on in stores.
According to Shantanu Gupta, VP, Corporate Affairs and Strategy at Whirlpool, â€œWe donâ€™t compromise on expenditure made in retail, store merchandising. Unlike an FMCG product as simple as a toothpaste, which is a driver category and one would buy every month, the consumer durablesâ€™ category requires engagement and an effort to win them over. This element can never be compromised.â€