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Products speak from within the store

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The modern consumer is smart and conscious; trying to change his/her buying behaviour is a challenge for advertisers. Other than the message, it is the medium that enables the facility of recall. In-store displays are an incubating medium that is moving up the priority list of the retailer and brandowner brigade. Rajiv Gupta, CEO, LeagueOne, discusses with Ranjan Kaplish his concept for in-store promotions, which have acquired an independent entity and are on way to become a starting point for branding ideas.


Q: How did the idea of introducing such a concept strike your mind, and how effective do you think it will be?

A: Right after getting out of the bed till the time you are awake, you are exposed to one or the other advertising every now and then. Yet, all that an ad can do is pull a customer to a place where a particular product is placed; his buying decision can always be altered within the point of sale – i.e., inside the store itself. Besides, if a customer sees a rush at the counter or finds the salespersons busy attending to other customers, she may either change her buying plan or look for some entertaining factor around.

Considering all factors, we came up with the idea of putting up an in-store display that would not only advertise, but also entertain and educate the consumer inside the store. The concept is not new. The practice is being followed in countries like China as also in Europe, and we are just introducing it in India.

Screens are popping up everywhere – right from your mobile phone to your television, to your computer and even a coffee vending machine, you are exposed to a screen saying something. What we have done is brought yet another screen right where it was needed, not just to sell but also to help consumer make purchase decisions.

There are times when your family retailer guides you on what to buy; the display will back what he says.


Q: How will the in-store display system work? Please explain the functional model.

A: There is no free time while you go shopping; all that one can spare is a few minutes to look around other things in stores. This is the time that we are looking to cash in on. The functional model is simple and effective. We have tied up with traditional stores across various markets to have a display screen (LCD) within the store. These screens are connected via broadband to a common server that controls the entire broadcast. The location and angle of the screen within the store have been strategically chosen for maximum impact on the viewer. We will run one-minute promos throughout the day and have also developed some informative content of our own to fill in the gaps.

The content displayed will be same across at least 100 screens at a time, as this is the minimum package that we are selling. To avoid too much repetition/overdose of similar TVCs, there is around 15-30-minute gap between consecutive ads, and we are very firm about avoiding any media hoarding so that each advertiser gets his own time and deserved coverage.

Q: What sort of stores feature in your list and what are the parameters by which a store qualifies to have a LeagueOne display?

A: We are not looking at any exclusive brand outlets, and nor have we focused on an organised chain of multi-brand stores. Our screens are only in traditional stores including regular mom-and-pop stores, pharmacists and mobile-phone shops.

We are working on flexible parameters for choosing a store to have our display. Firstly, there should not be a hub of displays in a single marketplace; so, in every market we have 4-8 displays at happening shops with maximum walk-ins. The shop should be nicely located and air-conditioned. In all, we are looking at traditional shops that are organised in their own way. The practice not only adds n to the store ambience, but also helps in-house product promotions.


Q: Any hitches in having an arrangement with shop owners?

A: An idea once explained accurately is understood better. Retailers are smart enough. As discussed earlier, the display not only helps in product promotions but also adds on to the ambience. Almost all small-format stores have either a plasma display or a regular TV set inside the store, the purpose being to keep customers busy when he himself is busy… Now that he’s getting a big LCD screen promising business without investment, what other deal will he look for?

Q: If a retailer wants to advertise, wouldn’t there be a conflict? For example, if retailer A’s ad is being run on retailer B’ screen…

A: We have strategised everything accordingly, and will not have anything on screen which might arouse conflict. Advertising is a promotional tool and aimed to take you ahead of your competitor. You portray yourself to be the best in whatever way possible, through the same medium where you competitor is also advertising. Competition is good for growth; conflict is not. We will definitely keep a check on the content of the message, as also on its timings and frequency. Anything that is considered unethical will not be there.

Q: What are the investments required for the project?

A: The set-up in each store is around one lakh rupees. We have financially sound parties backing the business, and we also have enough funds to sustain ourselves. As of now, we are not looking for any financial tie-ups or equity raise of any kind. In all, we are equipped on the financial front and not compromising on anything in terms of quality, technology, or service.

Q: Screens are popping up everywhere, as is evident, but isn’t it a threat for your business? For instance, you have four screens in one marketplace; what if somebody with better back-up puts up eight in the same market?

A: We are the first to introduce this idea, and shall always enjoy the first comers’ privileges. At the moment, there is nobody else in the market in this segment. The follower who will come along with the same idea will remain a follower, and will have to compromise on things that we had choices for. Secondly, I think we will do better if we see a competitor in the market, as that will only help us grow, and will keep us alert about our flaws.


Q: Even the latest of technology fades. Are you sure the technology that you are using will remain. What is your strategy?

A: That’s true, and therefore, whatever we posses as of now is the latest and the best. All systems that we are using are what is in accordance with time, and we hope it stays that way for some years in this unpredictable technological environment. When we started planning, we thought of having 29’ TVs in shops, until we realised that plasma TV is the ‘in’ thing and having an ordinary 29’ TV is a clichéd concept. Later, when the thought process started, we went a step ahead and opted for LCDs, because plasma too was likely to fade out with the rising demand for, and dipping prices of, LCDs.

For advanced networking, all our offices are connected with hi-speed broadband, and a team of experts is always on alert to keep a check on the broadcast. We have already opened our zonal offices in various parts of the country and all are well connected.


Q: How will TVCs on LeagueOne screens be different from those on TV?

A: LeagueOne display is totally different from that on television. In our case, we have limited reach and can always measure it – we know where it is being viewed. Secondly, we also know our viewer, so we know who’s watching it where. Hence, the content or the message in the ad will be created accordingly. We also have control over the area of broadcast. Since the advertisers can always be guided by us about the viewer profile in various areas, he will try making ads concentrating on the viewer profile, unlike what is done for TV, where the viewer groups are heterogeneous and not well defined.

The time option is another factor. We are not allowing anybody to go beyond one minute, so the entire message will have to be conveyed in one minute.

Q: Do you have an option for creating TVCs in-house?

A: Well, the creative part will have to come from a company or a brand that is advertising, but we do have contacts with studios and agencies, which on our reference can help in creating TVCs. With our experience in the industry, we will certainly guide an advertiser with better ideas, so that the message is conveyed and the purpose of the ad is met.

Our growth lies in the growth of the business that advertises through our medium, so we are keen on putting together the best of ideas and creativity we have to make whatever our consumer wants.

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