Rethinking checkout screens
May 24, 2007 by Dave Haynes
I have been traveling yet again, this time in the USA northeast.
We had time between a big meeting and the flight yesterday to pop into a regional grocer and see what they were up to. As has been the case with other such installs, the digital network in this one was pretty hopeless. There was a solo screen blaring away above a stand topped by Oreo cookies and loaded with trays of bulk olives and hot peppers. And a bunch of smaller screens, most of them working, at the checkout lanes.
The big one was running lifestyle content and the inexplicable but everpresent news crawler along the bottom of the screen (when I go to the market, I absolutely need milk, eggs and the latest news from Capitol Hill). The small ones had lifestyle content and weather forecasts along the bottom.
I have seen this stuff before and caused me to rant about the whole notion of screens at checkout, when it’s too late to drive impulse buys on anything other than what is right there.
But then I remembered a wide-ranging conversation I had last week at DSE with Jeff Dickey, the co-founder of SeeSaw Networks and a guy who has been around the ad business for a whole bunch of years.
Somehow we started talking about the checkout area as a medium and I said I didn’t get it.
Dickey said it actually makes a lot of sense these days, if done right.
He acknowledged that it is too late to drive impulse buys once people are there, but the thing about groceries is, those people will be back … maybe even the next day. Groceries are one of those places where people visit as much as daily, depending on their shopping habits.
So there is an opportunity to drive brand awareness and make people think a little about what they need to buy next time they’re in … maybe for their “big shop” of the week when they get bags and bags of stuff.
Dickey also talked about how this medium can influence and instruct a whole new generation of shoppers who have little or no idea of many of the packaged goods brands sold in supermarkets. We all grew up reading newspapers, listening to the radio and watching TV — and getting hammered with spots about laundry detergent, plastic wrap, facial tissues and frozen veggies.
For people under 25, they aren’t using conventional media the same way and so they aren’t seeing those brands, Dickey said. He probed his own kids and all they know about were the grocery’s house brands.
So for companies like Unilever and P&G, those checkout screens, and store networks in general, could be new and really important ways to get at this audience.
That said, the ones on this network I saw were doing little to help that along.