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Breaking through the clutter to get noticed in-store
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The retail industry in South Africa has never been better. As soon as we think that this ‘shopping boom’ has plateaued, the likes of Woolworths or Shoprite release an update that year-on-year growth is yet again on the rise. Who can blame the horde of international brands for wanting to enter our market to get in on this action?

Subsequently, with this mass onslaught of international FMCG brands as well as an increasing amount of local, interesting challenger brands such as Frankie's Soda and Bos Iced Tea, our shelves are getting rather crowded with consumers spoilt for choice.

Bos Iced Tea

Shelf space, let alone a prime position in-store, is therefore becoming a new precious commodity. Not everyone can afford to be on the popular gondola-ends in shops and advertising requires a lot of resources and budget. Given this, how can brands strategically break through this clutter in store and get noticed?

What's on the outside counts just as much as what's on the inside

NoMURegardless of the category, consumers are increasingly relying on visual and external cues to inform decision making when shopping. This includes price, labels, shelf displays and very importantly, packaging which has been cited as one of the greatest purchase influencers. The saying "don't just sit there and look pretty" has never been more false when considering the shopping process and consumer decision making. Distinctive and attractive packaging trumps many other attributes and the success of local brand NoMU bears testament to this.

With only R25 000 start-up capital, NoMU founder, Tracey Foulkes, opted to focus efforts on making the NoMU product range speak for itself on shelf. The outcome was the creation of trendy, differentiated and eye-catching packaging and as a result in less than 12 years the brand has gone from home industries to an international superstar present in over 27 countries.

Have a story to tell

People are instinctively drawn to great and intriguing stories. A story allows us to connect with one another and creates powerful magnetism which is especially true for brands. A brand story enables the customer to connect emotionally with the product offering and it makes the brand more human, compelling and personable. Take Sally Williams nougat and confectionary as a prime example - another brand that started from home and is now an international success story.

With virtually no money spent on advertising or over-the-top in-store displays, Sally Williams uses it pack to intrigue and tell an irresistible story. Each pack of nougat tells the story of how Sally made her way through the narrow streets and souks of Marrakesh on her quest for the perfect confectionary. It's exotic. It's enticing; and together with its distinctive packaging that reflects the story, it captures our attention in-store.

Harness the power of technology to teach and engage

No one can dispute the power of technology in marketing and branding. On that note, the use of technology should not stop at the promotion process (where it often does). Technology allows brands to inform and engage with consumers and that's why it is so important to incorporate technology into stores to support the sale of our brands. Nivea is doing this particularly well and is reaping the rewards. Understanding that skin care is daunting and complicated for consumers to navigate through, Nivea challenged the 'static shelf convention' and has launched digital interactive displays that help customers navigate through the range. The customer can simply enter key information about their skin type and skin care routine and the digital display provides the necessary information about what Nivea products the customer should be using. It's really a great and easy way to engage with customers at a critical touch point and consider the potential opportunity for the cross and up-sell of products!

Get involved

All too often people simply don't buy a product because they are unsure of how it will perform or maybe they just do not know how it works. We are living in an experience economy where engaging experiences have become the latest status symbol with brands and retailers tapping into this trend too. For instance, instead of just displaying their K-Way house-brand of jackets on hangers, Cape Union Mart creates an exciting and useful experience in store with an ice cold freezer room that allows customers the opportunity to try on and test jackets to see how they feel in sub-zero conditions.

Consumers want to see how a Hansgrohe shower head spurts water or how quickly the Nespresso machine can transform a single pod to a delicious cup of coffee. At the end of the day, people want to be reassured that what they buy, works and that is why it is critical that more and more brands engage with customers to get them involved and excited about the buying process.


Essentially, like it is in real life to stand out, brands need to think about their products like they would think about people. To get noticed amongst a sea of others, brands like people, need to look good and come across as confident, have an interesting background or story to tell, be smart and of course involve others and be engaging. Once you have mastered this, it's only a matter of time before you'll break through the clutter.


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