Toronto start-up lighting screens in Whole Foods

November 17, 2008 by Dave Haynes


Whole Foods stores have always struck me as a particularly appropriate venue for digital screens because there is so much stuff sold in there that never hits mainstream advertising budgets.

I like to cook, so walking around my sort-of local in Oakville, Ontario offers the level of interest to me that other guys have walking around the power tools section in a Lowes. There’s always stuff I’ve never seen … not that I can afford said stuff.

Anyway, a Canadian start-up has just gone public with its plans later this month for a new network called The Marketplace Station, which will be deployed in the two Whole Foods outlets in the Toronto area, and with near-term plans to run this across much of the boutique and organic grocery business in Canada.

It’s run buy a Newmarket, Ontario company called Planet-Tek, with George Andreoglou as president and Raji Kalra as managing director. Raji, many readers will know, was at Artisan for a long time and left recently to help his father’s business.

According to a press releaseThe stations, with targeted full-motion communications in select store departments, will help marketers in store heighten their point-of-purchase initiatives, and will benefit consumers with product info and food/lifestyle ideas.

“Our partnership with Whole Foods will see us providing 10 unique digital stations to reach thousands of consumers each week while they shop” says George Andreoglou, President of Planet-Tek Systems, in a press release. “The Marketplace Station(TM) communicates with consumers from the moment they enter the store with “The Welcome Station” and continues to be part of their in-store shopping experience from department to department with stations such as “The Produce Station” and “The Ecological Station.”

Stations will showcase a mix of vendor-promotional segments and editorial segments focusing on nutrition, fitness, leisure, environment and other lifestyle aspects of interest to health-aware consumers, while they’re making their purchase decisions. Retail industry stats show 70% of purchase decisions happen at the store level.

Planet-Tek has a five-year partnership with Whole Foods Market. Peter Hilge, head of Ontario regional division of Whole Foods Market, says, “We believe our digital signage network will provide an effective means to communicate promotional opportunities for us at Whole Foods and our suppliers in store.”

The Marketplace Station(TM) concept, two years in the making, is one answer to help marketers in tough economic times looking for cost effective, measurable tactics to increase retail sales. Each station will use best in class digital technology that allows for the remote management and scheduling of full-motion communications. A software application will be also be in place to comprehend viewer metrics of each digital station, for hands-on tactical management of campaigns from start to finish.

Planet-Tek and Whole Foods Market will work together to handle promotions and advertising sales across the stations to suppliers. 

I like this for a couple of reasons. Selfishly, they’re a client. But more to the point, these kinds of stores are jammed with niche products that need promotion to get attention and drive sales. There are not a lot of available marketing opportunities in these stores, so screens open up a ton of new possibilities.

The stores should be installed within two to three weeks. 


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