Driving beer sales with digital signage at retail

December 22, 2009 by Dave Haynes


The guys at Waterloo, Ontario-based DDC have had a great year, with the Air Canada Centre build-out, more DIGI Award wins, and a big deal with Canadian brewer Labatt that they are now able to maker some noise about.

Earlier in the year, they put together a digital retail merchandising program for the brewer – a portable fixture that included an LCD screen, media player, and wireless connectivity. The idea was to have it squared away to a point that the beer distribution company could roll a truck up to the store, wheel the unit in, and use one cord to plug it in, and off she goes. DDC handled the design, with a fixture company, and does all the ongoing management, including content.

The started with 200 and in the new year, Labatt is rolling out another 300. That’s because it works. The brewer was reluctant to release actual numbers, and provide too much encouragement to competitors, but I have seen them and they are really impressive in terms of sales lift. The campaigns change monthly, and the fixture is re-stocked with different product.

Here’s the press release (Disclosure – client of mine on pressDOOH side):

Strong, immediate boosts in sales prompted Labatt Breweries of Canada to more than double the footprint of an in-store digital merchandising program developed and managed by veteran digital signage solutions company Digital Display and Communications (DDC).

Labatt will expand the number of “POD” digital signage merchandising units it has in the field to more than 500 by early next year, based on the encouraging results of an initial rollout of 200 units that started in selected Western Canada retailers earlier this year.

Following strong pilot results, DDC was engaged by Labatt to help it develop a true scalable turnkey solution that delivered on a set of well-defined core objectives like influencing buying decisions and better controlling sales promotions in stores. DDC was responsible for the technical system design, hardware and software procurement, assembly, configuration and project management for the program, which features an attractive merchandising unit based around a 32-inch LCD monitor and built-in media player. 

Blake Jarrett & Company engineered and manufactured a highly functional and cost-effective structure to deliver the technology. “It was critical that the electronics be pre-installed in a fashion that was rugged enough for shipping and surviving in retail, while at the same time being ‘plug-and- play’ when it arrived,” said DDC’s VP Business Development, Steve Harris.  “The design styling was kept simple and elegant so the focus remained clearly on the merchandising messages shown on the LCD screen.”

The fully-integrated unit can be wheeled into a store, requiring only an available power outlet to start showing videos and connecting to the management network. DDC developed a content plan and provides ongoing content creation and network management services, controlling the deployed PODs remotely using a wireless data network. 

The content is 100% focused on the featured product, with an engaging 90-second content loop intended to influence customers just as they make their beer-buying decisions. DDC also developed an online portal so that national, regional and local Labatt staff – based on access and control rights – can log in and manage POD content. An online template was also developed by DDC that allows individual store operators to set their own pricing.

The first batch of POD units was rolled out to stores in mid-2009, and had an immediate, compelling effect on sales. 

“The actual results are confidential, but we can say that the sales increase on promoted products in stores that have the PODs, versus those that don’t, raised some eyebrows,” said Harris. “The numbers were really good, and consistent. We know enough now to believe a POD should be paying for itself within a year of getting plugged in.”

“DDC really took the time to understand all aspects of our business, developed a solution that met our needs, and then delivered. They’ve quickly become a very valued partner for Labatt,” said Tracey Sivak, National Customer Marketing Manager – Retail, Labatt Breweries of Canada. 

“This is a great project for DDC because it brought our full range of capabilities to the project,” added Harris, “and the sales results we’ve been seeing with Labatt suggest this is a formula that can really work in retail.”  

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