Timing is sometimes everything when it comes to marketing a product, and it can take a compelling event to shift a product from being regarded as “interesting” to one that is right for the moment.
In my dark period when I did business development for a software company, more than a decade ago, I had a prospective client who wanted to marry small screens with a hand sanitizer dispenser, with the idea of putting these in supermarkets and selling third party advertising.
I had my doubts the idea would go anywhere, as there was no particularly compelling reason for people to come over to a station and get a squirt. We all knew back in 2008 that shopping carts and door handles were probably grimy, but not in any genuinely dangerous way.
That’s obviously changed in the last few weeks, and something that was an interesting but borderline novelty product is quite abruptly hyper-relevant to the moment. If I need to get to the grocery, or mission-critical stores like the wine shop, I am looking for a dispenser as soon as I’m done with a cart and any keypad-based payment tech.
One Digital has even bundled their offer up with financing options and 12-month supplies of an advanced hand sanitizer.
I know end-users are buying them, because I’ve seen Linkedin posts from NoviSign showing units being prepped.
I assume there are other companies, as well, marketing solutions in different countries, but this post is not intended as a resource directory. Google will do a faster job.
The finished solutions actually come out of Shenzhen, and these ones – at least the one from this vendor – run an ancient version of Android. OK, I guess, if the messaging needs are simple.
The media model around this is suspect, even right now, but I could see government health authorities or even the venue doing messaging. On the positive side, a LOT more people will use these things than in the recent past – though their dwell time will be short.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.