While Sainsbury is rolling out in-store TV across its small stores, Nisa-Today’s has backed off. Siân Harrington investigates

The news that Sainsbury is to roll out in-store television to its convenience estate from this month shows how confident it is about its effectiveness in this channel.
In fact, when it comes to in-store TV, it could be said that convenience is proving a more convincing context than the big supermarkets. After all, Tesco and Asda have yet to extend their main store networks, having failed to hit their forecast timescales.
Yet some still question whether in-store advertising of any type has as much impact when the shopper is on a convenience mission (for the mission characteristics, see box). An even bigger question for advertisers is the return on investment.
On the face of it, the results of some of the convenience trials look impressive. Firebrand Media, which operates the Sainsbury convenience network, claims an average 20% uplift in sales for brands using in-store TV while Spar’s trial has produced even more significant uplifts. For example, a three-week bogof on I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! achieved a weighted sales uplift of 44% in both value and volume. Post-promotion this settled to a sustained increase of 18%.
Brands ignore the importance of in-store advertising at their peril, says Nick Widdowson, merchandising manager at Unilever UK Foods. “There is as good an opportunity in c-stores as in main stores. The shopper is still in-store for a period and so receptive to some communication. It is a hugely important part of the market and advertisers must not discount it.”
However, while the figures look good, they are based on much smaller sales volumes than those achieved in superstores.
One buying group is not convinced. Nisa-Today’s has scrapped its plans for in-store television. A spokeswoman says: “In-store TV was one of a number of concepts that we considered but not one we prioritised and has not been developed.”
So what are the facts? The latest POPAI study relates to the US and dates back to 2002. The UK division has not yet conducted any research.
However, as a benchmark, the US study, which audited 50 brands in 120 c-stores, showed that in-store advertising boosted sales by an average of 9%. Price reduction-based advertising had the greatest effect, generating a sales uplift of 36%, while soft drinks, cigarettes and coffee enjoyed the highest uplifts.
In other words, as long as the message is appropriate to c-store shoppers and not just a repeat of advertising in main stores, in-store media does appear to work in a convenience context.
Widdowson says: “C-shoppers want to find product quickly so it is vital that the advertising message does not distract them by being irrelevant. Brands have to manage the particular characteristics of the market.”
Andy Thornton, founder of convenience specialist Srcg, agrees. “The key is that the advertising is not intrusive, as shoppers want to be in and out quickly,” he says.
Paul Zwillenberg, media and entertainment director at OC&C Strategy Consultants, adds: “In-store TV can be effective in convenience, although you have to adjust the positioning of screens and ensure the content fits the mission. It should be eye level, with ‘buy this now’ type messages, special offers, two-for-one deals and so on.”
But while it is early days for in-store digital networks, more traditional forms of point of purchase advertising have long been prevalent in independent c-stores. “The main driver in convenience is traditional POP-related activity,” says Zwillenberg.
Brands can achieve much through the basics of better on-shelf fixtures, shelf trays, off-shelf displays and other traditional POP forms. Unilever UK Foods, for example, has worked with Sainsbury’s at Jacksons on category solutions in the pot snacks fixture including the introduction of a secondary display.
“This involved implementing a new range, new planograms, category signage and secondary-siting pot snacks with crisps, soft drinks and the lunchtime chiller,” says Suzy Ford, category strategy manager. “This was implemented in 109 stores and resulted in a 74% uplift in the pot snacks category.” [Jacksons store sales data August 22, 2004 vs base sales].
Such initiatives tend to be driven by the trade relationship, but newer forms of retail media are gaining recognition among media agencies.
Take basket advertising, which is undergoing a new lease of life thanks to the rapid expansion of the big supermarkets into convenience.
So while in-store TV is already in 140 Sainsbury’s at Jacksons and Sainsbury’s at Bells c-stores in Yorkshire, the north east and Midlands, the major advertising opportunity in its convenience arm is basket advertising.
According to Antony Ceravolo, CEO of Redbus Outdoor, which operates trolley and basket advertising across 900 stores including Sainsbury’s c-stores, Tesco Metro and Somerfield Essentials, agencies are beginning to look seriously at retail media.
Companies such as Nestlé’s in-house agency Fairfield Advertising, media planner Mindshare and outdoor specialist Concord have booked campaigns with Redbus.
“This brings confidence to the whole system,” says Ceravolo, arguing that in what he calls the supermarkets’ “urban shopper network”, basket advertising is the only established advertising medium. “The size and design of these stores lend themselves to basket advertising, giving brands high-concentration exposure to key consumers.”
Among the brands that have used basket advertising in convenience are Visa, Tesco Personal Finance and Camelot. Visa ran a campaign last year on baskets in Tesco Metro, Sainsbury’s Local and Central and Somerfield Essentials to reinforce the use of cards in an environment where spend is usually less than £20 and cash.
“Our challenge with Visa was to reach people when they were about to pay,” says Gideon Adey, group account director at Kinetic, WPP’s outdoor agency, which places 42% of all of the UK’s out-of-home media.
“By running the campaign on baskets across Redbus Outdoor’s media network, we were able to target consumers for sustained periods and reach them through a number of major retailers. Baskets are proving an effective in-store solution, as well as providing comprehensive coverage.”
Unilever UK Foods used baskets in Tesco Metro in September to target 18 to 24-year-olds and shoppers in their 50s, key shopper groups in c-stores, to advertise Flora’s spreads containing Omega-3 & 6.
According to research by Dunnhumby for Tesco and Litmus for Sainsbury, fmcg and non-fmcg basket campaigns showed unprompted recall levels of 33% while 72% were able to identify the brand advertised last year. Some 10% more customers listed the brand advertised on a basket as their favourite compared with stores without adverts.
And according to research from Litmus, one in three shoppers recall basket advertising, with 70% being able to identify the brand.
Ceravolo adds that research on one major fmcg brand found a 25% incremental uplift, with sales holding up well post campaign.
He advises that the ads that work best are for products purchased on impulse for immediate consumption, such as canned drinks, confectionery and non-bulk purchases in general. Top-up products such as coffee are also suited to advertising in this area.
“The most effective campaigns in terms of unprompted recall by shoppers are based on simple, bold, colourful creatives with minimal wording and large product shots.
“With dwell times being shorter in the convenience market, the messaging must be clear to enable both visual impact and subliminal intake,” he says.

The c-store mission

n Time spent in a convenience store has doubled over the past 10 years from two to three minutes in 1995 to four to five minutes in 2005

n 50%-75% of shoppers queue in a c-store environment (mostly with only one other person in front), spending slightly more than one minute at the checkout

n The actual time spent being served is under one minute depending upon the contents of the mission

n Core missions are top up, food/drink for immediate consumption, having run out of items, and news. Meal for tonight is a growing mission but not fully realised yet

n One in four shoppers did not plan to visit when they entered. Store visibility drives impulse visiting

n Between 50%-65% of shoppers travel from home and back home. About 50% travel to a c-store using a car

n One in 10 shoppers fail to purchase items they want to buy, mostly because of out of stocks

n The shopping mission leads the direction of flow of shoppers around the store

n Store usage changes by time of day due to the nature of the missions by day part
Source: ID Magasin