Contextual Marketing: Risky or Rewarding?

‘In the moment’ product promotions should be handled carefully
mobile phone

Delivering information and promotions to your convenience-store shoppers “in the moment” via mobile device might sound like a sure thing, but it comes with a big risk.

You could be seriously irritating your customers.

“Consumers report being bombarded with marketing messages that are neither relevant nor useful,” according to the Economist Intelligence Unit report “Beyond Personalization: The Challenge of Contextual Marketing.” Not to mention, unsolicited marketing messages could make a consumer feel uncomfortable and prompt that person to opt out of the digital relationship altogether.

But when used properly, contextual marketing and promotion has great potential for delivering effective messages in the moment, giving retailers a better way to bundle products and do more solution selling. Here are two examples (one digital and one not) that caught the attention of Brick Meets Click, a retail and e-commerce consultancy.

  • Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch is experimenting with sensors embedded in its packaging to collect information about where the product is in the supply chain, and to deliver contextual messages to consumers. Tap the bottle with your smartphone, for example, and you can learn more about the product—and the message will differ depending on whether the bottle has been opened or not.
  • Home Depot bundles three items, posts, mailboxes and a post level, all in one spot. Normally, these products would be stocked in different departments, but the net impact is that the shopper encounters all of the materials needed for the job—and the one they probably didn’t know they needed is an easy upsell.

Brick Meets Click predicts product marketers will continue to lead the way in leveraging this mostly digital high tech selling, but there is an opportunity for retailers to work with suppliers to learn where this practice can benefit both the brand and their business.