Day #14: Enhance Content for Class Handouts

Your dietitians are hosting “Back to School Lunch Ideas” classes for hundreds of customers throughout your stores. You want to drive class attendees to your website after the class.

How can you encourage follow-up traffic from the class with Content Explorer?

  1. Find an article on Back to School Lunches
  2. Grab the link
  3. Share it on your class handout materials

It’s that easy. Want to get started? Email us now to access Content Explorer. Or call 877-659-7630.

Now serving breakfast

Cereals marketed directly to children have 85% more sugar, 65% less fiber and 60% more sodium than cereals marketed to adults. These were the headlines from a new study released this week from Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

Any parent who’s pushed a grocery cart down the cereal aisle won’t be surprised by this news. It’s also no secret that the industry spends a lot of money targeting young children with their advertising: $156 million on cereal TV advertising alone.

“The total amount of breakfast cereal marketing to children on television and computer screens, and at their eye-level in stores, combined with the appalling nutrient profile of the cereals most frequently marketed is staggering,” said Jennifer L. Harris, director of marketing initiatives at Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

In addition, the other big news this week was around Smart Choices, the healthy food labeling program developed by some of the leading food manufacturers, as government and media scrutiny led to it being dropped by many of the same companies who brought it to life. While consumers and nutrition-industry leaders are still asking about the guidelines that allowed a Smart Choices logo on a box of Fruit Loops, it appears that this has finally led the FDA to begin developing regulations around nutrition labeling on the front of the package.

At the end of the day, this is all good news for consumers. We have a health crisis in our country, and specifically, we have a childhood disease crisis. Childhood obesity and diabetes rates are rising and parents need help to get their kids on track to a healthy future. They can’t do it alone, and they know this.

They’ll be turning to schools, restaurants, grocers, food growers and manufacturers. How will you help them make the smart choices they need to live better and be loyal customers? Of course, that is what we think about every day at Aisle7. For example, our article: Jump Start Your Family’s Day with Breakfast tells shoppers why the first meal of the day is important, especially for children, and offers meal suggestions like whole grain hot or cold cereals, smoothies and granola.

That’s the kind of unbiased, authentic and transparent help families will need to make informed choices for their family. Are you ready to serve that up?

New Release of Aisle7 IN-STORE

Today we announced the release of Aisle7 IN-STORE 2009 second edition!

Before I go into all the great new features, I just want to say that it’s a very sweet privilege to write this post on behalf of the team at Aisle7.   In a software company there’s nothing quite as thrilling and satisfying as releasing a new product to market.  Countless conversations with customers, reviews with our editorial and medical team, user design reviews, development reviews, executive reviews, you name it….a lot goes into making sure the product provides what our customers need.  It’s what we live for professionally.  And I speak for the entire team, when I say we’re excited to see how shoppers respond to the latest release.

Several months ago, when we were reaching out to our customers and deciding on the new features to focus on, the path very quickly became clear

1) Budget Friendly — This one was an easy one.  We wanted to provide shoppers with inexpensive yet healthy shopping ideas on the products they carry everyday.  This is anchored by our new Budget Friendly recipe collection offering healthy meals for $3 per serving or less, and features everyday products in your store.  This is a nice complement to our other value offering Aisle7 Promote, which allows you to place ads in your Aisle7 IN-STORE product.

2) Gluten Free –  We heard this time and time again from our customers.  And it’s no surprise.  While only 1-2 million people in the U.S have Celiac Disease, a staggering 15-25 million (and growing) are trying to remove gluten from their diet.  Now shoppers can find a new Gluten Free recipe collection, tips on how to get started on a Gluten Free Diet, a new Product Guide that highlights foods to eat and foods to avoid and much more. Look for it in our new Gluten Free Center.

3) Diabetes Management — Like Gluten Free, the numbers behind Diabetes are staggering.  An estimated 50+million Americans are in a diabetic or pre-diabetic state.  Now shoppers can find ADA compliant recipes and meal ideas in the Recipe Center as well as Diabetes Health Center.  Proper food nutrition is so important with this deadly disease.

4) The latest Science Updates — Last but definitely not least are the science updates made to the entire content base by our medical board.  Every release our team pours through 600 medical journals to make sure the resources, product recommendations and shopping ideas reflect the latest science.  In this release over 250 updates to individual articles were made.  We also made new additions to the shopping guides on popular new topics like H1N1 “Swine Flu” and Probiotics.

There’s something in this release for everyone.  We’re excited to see it leave our servers and be delivered to our more than 2000 retail customers around the world.  If you are a networked customer, the release is already up on your screens.   Otherwise, you’ll receive it in the next couple weeks.  And if you’re thinking about Aisle7 and want to see a demo, we’ve created a new movie in our demo registration area that provides more details on the above.

Let us know what you think.  Your feedback is our treasure.

Saving Time Just As Important As Price Markdowns?

A few days ago, I wrote a post on the emerging information driven consumer.  The premise being that shoppers are choosing (and are influenced) by media where they control the experience such as mobile, Internet, interactive kiosks, etc..

I just came across a few additional data points that add to the conversation, particularly given current economic conditions.  A survey of 500 U.S consumers by BuzzBack Market Research  (12/2008) found that price markdowns are resonating, as 80 percent surveyed said they are buying discount or sale items.  The survey also found that saving time and easing the buying process were also equally important to consumers. Some of the highlights I saw were:

  • 53% surveyed are using the Internet more frequently to research products and prices
  • 46% want to receive price comparisons, product reviews, coupons, promotions and store sales information online or via e-mail

Very similar to the trends I talked about in my earlier post.

A collegue also reminded me of a study NCR did that found many consumers are looking for self-service offerings in the store as a way to speed up the shopping process:

  • 72% were more likely to shop with a retailer that gives consumers the flexibility to interact easily via online, mobile and kiosk self-service channels versus a retailer that does not
  • 49% believe receiving discount offerings and product information on large screens in-store would be convenient

What are you seeing in your store?  It’s clear that price is an important factor particularly in today’s economy.  But we can’t forget that time, convenience and customer experience are equally important in delivering shoppers a high value offering. 

P.S. If you haven’t done so already, you should check out our new Shopper Marketing Guide.  You’ll get a new chapter each week on how you can use new self-service technologies to communicate and inspire your shoppers.

Introducing Engage: New Monthly Newsletter from Aisle7

Part of my role at Aisle7 is to help our customers better help their customers, and thus drive sales, with the use of our products and programs. My newest venture is the launch of our monthly newsletter, Engage. Engage is about sharing industry news, trends we’re talking about & product insights with our customers to help them achieve more from their Aisle7 program. My hope is that the newsletter inspires some new thinking about the way our programs are used that results in better store-level execution & stronger loyalty with shoppers.

So, check out our first edition of Engage here, and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

The Information Driven Shopper

I just came across an interesting new study in the blogosphere that underscored the changing trends of media influence on shopper purchase decisions.  And the headline is… shoppers are choosing media that they can control.  New internet based technologies are putting shoppers in the drivers seat to get information from the sources they trust.  Traditional media be gone!  Broadcast advertising enough!

From In-Store marketing solutions such as Aisle7 IN-STORE to new mobile applications like ShopSaavy and Qponix Mealbox, shoppers have an unprecedented level of access to information and they intend to use it.  In fact, 62% of consumers indicated they spend more than 30 minutes a week on the Internet researching products they want to buy.  More than 25% spend more than 2 hours.  Most importantly, the sources of information they find most helpful are from impartial product reviews and other consumers. More surprising was how people favored these reviews (70%) to getting information from store personnel (2%).

Now, surveys have a tendency to color things in black and white terms and we know that the retail environment, let alone consumer influencers aren’t quite that easy to tease apart.  I’ll also submit that this survey is looking across all retail channels not just grocery retail.  And we know that the success of our In-Store program (in particular) gets a tremendous ”shot in the arm” when we get great support from store personnel.

That said, I think it goes without saying that times are changing and that consumers are looking for transparency. They want impartiality and most importantly they want to have control.  With new media and technology platforms coming online all the time, the relationship retailers have with their shoppers is in flux. With change, comes opportunity to experiment, test new strategies and open up the lines of communication with shoppers to deliver information and shopping ideas in the format they trust.

It’s a really fun time to be in in-store marketing

Two articles that I read this week reminded me of why in-store marketing is the place to be. Not that I need much reminding but it was nice validation nonetheless. I enjoy markets that are going through a good degree of change. I had the good fortune to work for WebTrends a web marketing analytics company during the dotcom boom….. and bust (whimper). And now at Aisle7, not a week goes by without a compelling article discussing the changing marketing landscape at retail.

First there was the story in the Wall Street Journal that discussed the proliferation of digital marketing technology in the store. With the price of digital screens of all shapes and sizes falling and ever better product coding technologies like RFID, the landscape is getting very interesting. It’s become less a factor of can you do it and more a factor of how you do it. The CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi had an interesting quote, suggesting that in order for these new marketing mediums to succeed, they need to do much more than just run ads. I couldn’t agree more. Consumers are already bombarded by ads today. The shift from push based media (e.g. tv) to pull based media (e.g web search) is instructive. Consumers are demanding control. In order for marketers to grab their attention they need to present a value oriented message to consumers on their terms. It’s powerful that the store is strengthening its position as a marketing medium, but we need to remember as marketers that consumers are looking for more than just ads.

Speaking of ads….there was a great article in Ad Age that talked about the growing importance of the retailer’s brand. With in-store marketing growing in importance and increasing competition at retail, there is a growing need for retailers to strengthen their branding efforts, cultivate their point of view and establish a unique selling proposition with consumers. The days of just being a distribution channel are waning. Which makes the Wall Street Journal article even more interesting. As technology continues to get more affordable, marketers continue to shift budgets to in-store and retailers strengthen their branding efforts; it’s going to be important for retailers to carefully choose solutions that extend their brand, dovetail with their marketing initiatives and most importantly do more than just push ads. They need solutions that present shoppers with product ideas within the context of the shoppers goals.