But, until the advent of digital marcom, the effectiveness of all analog tactics was largely immeasurable. While marketers presumed their outdoor or radio campaign to be effective based on corresponding sales, the only traditional vehicle that could reliably trace the path-to-purchase funnel with precise data was the coupon.
And, even now, when marketers can view the efficiency of their digital tactics with absolute transparency, the causal link to final purchase is missing unless it occurs online. Retailers with physical locations still have little insight into the "clicks-to-bricks" black box. Loyalty programs with digital components can provide some of that data, but again, only when the actual purchase can be correlated with the influencing media. Sales data often lags behind marketing spends, and, as anyone who's ever attempted to build an iron-clad multichannel attribution algorithm will attest, there's often as much voodoo as math involved.
At quench, we're convinced that two new technological innovations will serve to change the "clicks-to-bricks" conundrum once and for all: beacon-based, location-aware technology coupled with a mobile payment system that's poised to become the de facto standard.
Apple's iBeacon has gradually gained traction among retailers, and early tests indicate that it can boost purchase intent as much as 20 percent over traditional CPG mobile marketing. And the promise of iBeacon has barely been tapped as yet. This low-energy, pinpoint-targeting tactic holds the promise of truly reaching targets just when it matters most: as they enter the channel and begin to shop. And, with well-established mobile loyalty programs already in play with most major retailers, the barrier for consumers to opt in is particularly low.
This year has brought increasing momentum for iBeacon as CPG brands such as Zatarain's, Hillshire Farm, Unilever's Magnum, and Oscar Mayer have begun to experiment, and major channels such as Safeway, Giant Eagle, Duane Reade, Tesco and Subway adopt trial iBeacon installations. But how much more powerful could this tactic become if the path from messaging to purchase were completely transparent? Apple's newly announced iPay standard has the potential to finally connect the dots between point-of-decision marketing and close of sale. That, in turn, could serve to revolutionize CPG marketing, providing real-time data on what messages actually move product. It could transform retailer planograms as co-purchase trends are revealed. It could spur the same sort of analysis and optimization of the analog purchase funnel that has become de rigueur in ecommerce.
As with any new technology, a smart marketer must retain some skepticism. But Apple has some unique advantages in making its mobile payment the coin of the realm. For one, it can bundle iPay with its hardware, forcing adoption on a broad user base. For another, no one has ever gone broke betting on the laziness of the public. The ability to wave a device to pay, as opposed to the comparatively cumbersome task of removing credit card from purse or wallet, swiping and signing, will ultimately win over the consumer. And channels such as SUBWAY, Whole Foods and Walgreens are already betting on it.
At quench, we've been experimenting with iBeacons since they were first introduced, and we're excited to investigate iPay. Can you imagine a future that allows marketers to swap out a point-of-purchase message on the fly, and, within minutes, gauge its effectiveness?
If you'd like to learn more, or simply share your thoughts on this exciting emergent technology, drop us a line.
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