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3 strategies to increase brand presence in brick-and-mortar retail

The majority (84%) of total retail sales will take place in physical stores this year. To capture a bigger piece of the in-store pie, brands should invest in their non-ecommerce marketing efforts. Here are three ways how.

1. Digitizing the physical shelf

Physical stores are the next major media channel, according to our analyst Andrew Lipsman. Considering the surging popularity of retail media, brands should experiment with ways to bring a fresh, digital approach to in-store advertising.

Retailers like Walgreens, The Kroger Co., and CVS are testing digital freezer screens that play full-motion video commercials that morph into physical representations of the products inside as consumers approach, as reported by Axios.

Kroger has found success with the screens and is expanding the technology to other digital screens for end-caps, checkout lane coolers, and pharmacies.

For other retailers, it’s been a mixed bag. After installing the digital cooler screens, Walgreens experienced some backlash from consumers who took to social media to share their displeasure with the experience, per CNN.

“The digital cooler screens at Walgreens made me watch an ad before it allowed me to know which door held the frozen pizzas,” said one person on Twitter.

“@Walgreens NOBODY needs [a] TV screen replacing doors in your cooler aisles…. Stop,” said another.

Our view: Retailers should explore new ways to update their in-store media offerings, but before committing, they need to understand how it could disrupt the shopping experience. In-store screenage should feel like a natural integration with the store rather than a giant pop-up ad.

2. Host an in-person event

In-person events are a great way for companies to increase awareness and provide an opportunity for consumers to try products. This can be especially beneficial for introducing digital-only brands.

To promote its partnership with Target, iconic toy store FAO Schwarz (which has only one location in New York City) hosted a series of toy demonstrations in Target stores during the 2022 holiday season, giving consumers the chance to touch and feel the toy offerings before making a purchase.

Nike is another brand that uses its physical locations to increase brand affinity among customers.

“[Nike uses its stores] as hubs for events, things like running clubs, running meetups, fashion shows,” our analyst Sky Canaves said on a recent “Behind the Numbers: Reimagining Retail” podcast episode. “When I lived in New York, they were using the store as an event space, [a] source of entertainment, or [a] meeting place for a community.”

Our view: Retailers should use their physical space to showcase new products, flavors, and partnerships, giving shoppers a firsthand look at how they can incorporate the brand into their lives. It can also provide an opportunity for brands to build trust with consumers simply by having human-to-human interaction.

3. Give digital kiosks a try

People love free samples—and discounts.

Digital trial kiosks can bring those things together, turning store shelves into in-store sampling stations that also dispense coupons to encourage purchase.

Wakefern Food Corp. is adding Freeosk’s multisensory trial kiosks to 95 stores across its ShopRite and Fresh Grocer banners.

“Trial lowers barriers to entry for products and expands the shopper base for brands by attracting incremental users to the category while in-store,” said Natalie Menza-Crowe, MS, RD, director of marketing and wellness strategy at Wakefern, in a statement.

She said the kiosks also help capture shopper activity, helping retailers measure campaign effectiveness.

Our view: Digital kiosks combine in-store sampling, merchandising, and digital media, making it a strong strategy for retailers and brands alike. Retailers should be strategic about where, when, and how they leverage them and should let first-party data on shoppers guide which products and discounts to promote via the kiosks.


This was originally featured in the Retail Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.