• As people seek in-store experiences, telecom companies have an opportunity to invite consumers into their local retail locations for reasons beyond paying a bill or getting repairs.
• This doesn’t only hold true in the back half of the year. A new year offers a chance to win over shoppers who have extra disposable income.
• Telecoms will have to work harder to stand out among the options available to consumers.
Driving telecom shoppers back to retail in the first half
Consumers have been trained for years to expect deals in the back half, but with 2021 in the rearview mirror, there are some new opportunities that may provide them with additional disposable income as they begin the new year.
For example, the Emergency Broadband Benefit, an incentive specific to the telecom industry that subsidizes internet use for low-income consumers, is still in effect with no end in sight. Then there are the mega pay dates, which occur when most national paychecks plus assistance benefits pay out on the same week (April 1, April 29 and June 3). Add to this the fight for share among top industry players and the result is more opportunities for consumers to receive, spend and save money. Telecom marketers can capitalize on this if they identify and influence shoppers who have a little extra cash and a lot more incentive.
Of course, there are still headwinds. Almost one quarter of U.S. households have now cut the cord in favor of streaming: By 2024 most will no longer use Pay TV services, says eMarketer. Heated competition for streaming content and better networks has prompted more mergers and potentially more consumer confusion. Consumers are also getting used to greater levels of personalization, despite a concurrent expectation of more privacy, reports PWC.
But these choices in offerings and media messaging just mean that brands must fight harder to be heard.
The importance of driving consumers back to the retail store
The adoption of digital experiences — from shopping to entertainment and eating out — increased during the pandemic, but the retail store still holds significant advantages, and if you can get consumers to visit a physical location, recent studies indicate that it’s worth it.
Why? Because consumers are starved for in-person experiences. Omnicon’s “The Future of Commerce” reports that 49% of consumers globally prefer the experience of in-store shopping, overshadowing the 38% of consumers who state that they like shopping online, where they can find exactly what they are looking for. Another plus to in-store shopping is purchase size: A survey from from First Insight reported that 71% of all shoppers spent $50 or more when shopping in-store, compared to only 54% of shoppers who went online.
And the closer to home that you can make those retail experiences, the better. Our 2021 Consumer Intel Report notes that 61% percent of consumers prefer to shop at local, neighborhood stores. This desire for an in-store experience creates a new opportunity for telecom companies to invite consumers into retail locations for reasons beyond paying a bill or getting something repaired.
To win the day, telecoms need to increase dwell time by giving consumers a reason to stay a while.
How to influence today’s telecom shopper
As telecom shoppers evolve in their preferences for advertising personalization, privacy and choice, they become more of a challenge to convert. But for those who are equipped with advertising solutions that do not rely on cookies, identifying and engaging the target audience is still manageable.
But the challenge of driving consumers to a brick-and-mortar store versus just continuing to click away on a laptop or mobile remains.
The right combination of offline and online communications is likely the best answer. The right mix may vary by brand, but these three important tactics should be on the list:
- Direct mail. Our research found 56% of shoppers interested in electronics said that direct mail ads have directly influenced them to make a purchase.
- Mobile coupons. Digital offers that reach a shopper on the go, with relevant offers and mapped locations to encourage a store visit are great ways to disrupt the routine shopping experience and promote valuable incentives.
- Streaming TV. Connected TV ads are a solid top-of-funnel option for customizing an offer to a specific audience by message and by location, especially since many consumers don’t mind watching ads when watching TV, including streaming platforms, according to TiVo’s Q4 2020 Video Trends Report. And streaming adoption continues to increase, as 61% of consumers say they are watching more, as reported in our 2021 Consumer Intel Report.
This first half of 2022 will no doubt show some renewed excitement about reconnecting and shopping, as we continue to strive for a more normal lifestyle and — with luck — put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror. More than other years, retailers with physical locations have an opportunity to grab more traffic and sales if they can capture that energy and excitement within their stores. Making the right choices for targeting and activation through the right media channels will certainly help add revenue to the optimism of a new year.
As you evaluate your 2022 marketing plans, you’ll want to know what is important to consumers as they make buying choices in the new year. Vericast recently surveyed consumers to find out what’s on their minds and produced the 2022 Vericast Consumer Outlook. Check out this valuable resource of consumer sentiment insight.
Susan Maurer is client strategy director for Vericast, partnering with clients to drive revenue. She has over 20 years of experience working in verticals such as CPG, telecom, healthcare and finance, with a focus on using insights and strategy to help clients realize their consumer engagement objectives.