When I was about 6 years old, I stood next to my mom in what I believe was a Kroger. She was picking out a big can of what had to have been Folger's—the only coffee brand I recall seeing in the house throughout childhood.
Truth be told, I have no idea what she was doing. I was in a daze, swimming in the sight, sound, and smell of the classic in-aisle coffee grinder. The thing was beautiful. It was big, loud, and mysterious. And at that moment, I wanted to drink coffee.
No—I wanted to be a coffee drinker. I became a lifelong coffee drinker that day, years before my first cup.
Casey Tibbs, Instagram
Supermarkets use every trick in the book to encourage purchases, from the classic in-door, out-door, no-escape floor planning –
think of this like GoDaddy's approach to up-selling & cross-selling,
to placing produce, in all its varied colors, shapes, smells, and textures, near the front of the store –
much like placing highly relevant, actionable website content above the fold.
Many of the methods behind supermarket purchase psychology are easily understood and implemented.
In a nutshell (that pun was low-hanging fruit—OH!), leverage attractive colors, fresh smells, and product placement in a way that communicates quality and value while subtly encouraging additional purchases beyond those on your scribbled list. For a deeper look into smart store layouts, check out this blog post from Shopify.
I know, I know – "What about Shellfish?!"
First, a disclaimer: I originally wrote this post as a response to a HARO query specifically about marketing shellfish in-store, but it wasn't picked up. I highly recommend following HARO if you're a marketing agency, PR consultant, or simply to find free publishing opportunities for your own public relations and reputation management goals.
If you asked me to describe shellfish as it exists pre-dinner-table, the first target keywords to enter my brain would have to be "dull," "colorless," "smelly," and "alien" (here's looking at you, crabs!).
To further my point, consider our usage of shellfish terminology vs. that of other foods in the popular lexicon—"ugh, my hands are so clammy today," or "he gave me crabs," vs. "comparing apples to oranges" or "I'm doing just peachy!"
Let's face it, shellfish is kinda disgusting until you actually experience it.
With that in mind, how can we create a high-converting shellfish display that is honest and effective, using modern, digital CX concepts as our guide?
1) Fresh, Clean, Sustainable – Using Empathy & Awareness to Win Over Shoppers
How to pull it off:
Create a display at either end of the seafood section. Showcase a small variety of the best-looking shellfish you can find or, if you can manage it, purchase several artistic, realistic models that can be placed semi-permanently.
Crudely Photoshopped, but you get the idea 😉
Create an eye-level scene that invokes feelings of the sea—fresh water, a rolling tide, and a light spritz of saltwater. The water flows across the shells; we hear the sound of waves crashing gently, and we smell the faintest bit of fresh saltwater in the air.
Don't go too far—no one wants to be sprayed in the face with salty water in the seafood aisle!
Instead, try integrating a diffuser and (pre)experimenting with different smells that only hint at that seaside sensation.
If possible, place the Certified Sustainable Seafood logo somewhere prominent on the display, along with a bit of copy about your supermarket's conscientious approach to buying seafood.
Modern seafood buyers are concerned about things like sustainability, contaminants, and ethics. Prove your case in the same space that you entice their purchase. Shoppers will appreciate your honest, authentic approach.
Why it works:
Much like online advertising, shoppers (users) respond well to relevance, attractive visuals, and motion. Whereas Google display advertising limits us to a shopper's visual senses, an in-store display lets us take advantage of sounds and smells. Be sure to capitalize on these additional sensory opportunities when crafting your unique Customer Experience.
2) Humor Paired with Giving – Catch Them Off-Guard, Win with Compassion
How to pull it off:
Create a display that features some key shellfish characters. This display can be relatively similar to the one mentioned above, but with a key difference – you're openly admitting defeat.
"It was worth the time. It was worth the time. It was. . ."
"Hey, shellfish aren't sexy. We get it. But they are delicious, packed with protein, and invaluable when incorporated into your diet."
A bit of quick keyword research tells us that the three best-selling shellfish species in the US are shrimp, crabs, and clams.
Maybe a shrimp is riding a king crab while lassoing a clam, along with the headline, "Round Up A Mess O' Clams, We'll Round-Up For Charity!" (Yes, I took the time to mock this up. No ragrets) and an associated store promo that rounds up the purchase price for 10 or more clams to the next dollar and donates the rest to a popular local charity.
Or, place a toy crab in the display along with a whiteboard speech bubble that changes periodically. Have fun with it—try things like, "I know I'm ugly, but you should see me when I'm boilin'!" or simply, "Help!"
Once again, utilize copy that explains your position on sustainability and your conscientious approach, but work in an opening line fitting the honest humor. Something like, "We know that shellfish aren't sexy. We still want you to love them as much as we do here at _____. Did you know that 1-2 servings of fish per week can reduce the risk of coronary death by 36% and total mortality by 17%?"
Why it works:
Whether we're running a Facebook advertising campaign or targeting shoppers in-store, a one-two punch of humor & compassion is a great way of first grabbing attention, then closing the sale. Plus, we've done our keyword research to identify potentially high-converting topics.
How would you use your Customer Experience and Online Advertising skills to market ugly, smelly shellfish in-store? Let me know in the comments!