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What is Retail Marketing? 5 Powerful Strategies to Boost Sales

The importance of retail marketing cannot be overstated.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20 percent of businesses fail in their first year.

That’s a lot of failed dreams.

To survive, you must be able to make sales consistently. How? By implementing effective retail marketing strategies.

In short, without retail marketing, your sales will diminish, you’ll lose customers to your competitors, and your business is doomed.

On the other hand… 

The advantages of retail marketing can propel you to the very heights of success. 

You can use these strategies to learn about your customers, build your brand equity, increase awareness, and ultimately, make more sales.

Sound good?

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at what retail marketing is, the marketing mix framework, and five powerful marketing strategies for retail stores.

Buckle up.

What is Retail Marketing?

The definition of retail marketing: the process a retailer uses to promote awareness and interest in their products or services to generate sales.

These efforts include activities such as market research, branding, public relations, advertising, selling, and product or service fulfillment.

Definition of Retail Marketing

Remember, retail is the process of selling products or services to end-user consumers. As a result, it’s often referred to as business-to-consumer or B2C.

This means retail marketing strategies are used by businesses such as:

  • Department stores such as Target and Macy’s
  • Big-box stores such as Best Buy and Costco
  • Discount stores such as Walmart and Kmart
  • Supermarkets such as Vons or Wholefoods
  • Mom-and-Pop stores such as local convenience stores, boutiques, or your local bike repair shop
  • Online retailers – this includes any business that sells products online through its website, a social media channel, app or online marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy.

So how does a retail marketing strategy work exactly?

The Retail Marketing Mix: The 4 Ps

The retail marketing mix is a framework for making marketing decisions.

The original marketing mix is known as “The 4 Ps” and was originally proposed by marketer and academic E. Jerome McCarthy in 1960. It’s since become one of the most accepted and enduring marketing frameworks.

The 4 Ps Marketing Mix

Let’s run through what each of the four Ps stand for:

1. Product 

This is what the retailer sells and may refer to goods or services. This part of the marketing mix includes decisions to do with features, benefits, style, quality, packaging, warranties.

2. Price

This aspect of the marketing mix surrounds decisions to do with things like pricing strategies, discounts, promotions, and credit terms. It can also refer to psychological costs such as the time and effort a customer must spend to make a purchase.

3. Place

This section of the marketing mix refers to the physical locations in which the retailer operates, such as physical retail stores, websites, catalogs, or any other sales channel. It also includes distribution and fulfillment processes used to reach markets.

4. Promotion

The fourth part of the marketing mix concerns all marketing communications used to compel consumers to buy from the retailer. It includes decisions surrounding branding, public relations, advertising, and selling.

However, a lot’s changed since the 1960s…

The New Retail Marketing Mix: The 4 Cs

To make the marketing mix more relevant to modern times, the advertising professor Robert F. Lauterborn proposed an updated version in 1990 called “The 4 Cs.”

This new marketing mix is more consumer-oriented than The 4 Ps.

It also helps to address the move away from mass marketing to the targeted and scientific marketing approach used today.

The 4Cs Marketing Mix

Let’s check out how things have changed:

1. Product → Consumer

The first part of the new marketing mix is the consumer’s wants and needs. Instead of choosing what to sell, retailers must understand their customers. 

The more you understand your target customers, the more you can provide the most competitive products and services.

2. Price → Cost

Cost refers to far more than the financial aspects of retail. This section of the marketing mix refers to all costs incurred by the business and the customer.

These costs include the time, effort, and resources it takes to bring a product to market or to purchase it.

It also includes things like opportunity cost. For example, a customer might not want to purchase a new sofa set because then they won’t be able to afford a romantic weekend break.

It also includes all of the psychological and emotional costs a customer might incur, such as feeling bad about contributing to climate change by purchasing imported plastic goods.

3. Place → Convenience

The word “place” made sense in the original marketing mix. It referred to where you placed your high-street store or which magazine to place your advertisement in.

However, in the age of the internet, everything is available at the touch of a button. 

Today, it’s all about convenience. Consumers want retail research and shopping to be quick, easy, intuitive, and enjoyable. They don’t want to have to spend effort or time to spend their money.

4. Promotion → Communication

Promotion is all about the seller getting their message in front of consumers. 

But with the rise of adblocking and people learning to habitually ignore ads, retailers must stop broadcasting at consumers, and instead start engaging with them.

Whether through advertisements, social media, or selling, brands must nurture customer relationships to succeed.

Next up:

5 Powerful Retail Marketing Strategies to Boost Sales

Now that you understand the basics of retail marketing strategy, let’s take a look at five retail marketing ideas to grow your business.

#1: Incentivize Shoppers to Visit Your Store

Ecommerce is eating away at brick-and-mortar retail stores. 

By 2023, 22 percent of global retail sales are expected to happen online. That’s a lot.

Ecommerce share of total global retail sales from 2015 to 2023

When it’s so easy to pick up your phone, order a new handbag, and have it arrive on your doorstep that afternoon, why bother trekking down to the local mall?

Still, there are benefits to physical stores – and retailers need to capitalize on them.

For a start, customers can see, touch, and try items before they buy them, avoiding the hassle of returning items through the post.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Brick-and-mortar stores can do something that ecommerce stores never can: provide an experience with real human interaction.

This is great news, especially when 60 percent of consumers aged 24-27 will go out of their way for a superior in-store shopping experience.

What’s more, customers are willing to pay up to a 16 percent premium when they have a great experience.

Okay, so how can you do this?

Well, for example, you can promote discounts or limited edition products only available in-store. You can also create special in-store events.

Let’s look at a retail marketing example from athletic apparel company Lululemon. The brand often hosting free in-store yoga classes and fitness clubs.

Lululemon Retail Marketing

It’s a compelling on-brand offering to incentivize shoppers to come out to the store. And while consumers are doing yoga, the store’s products will surround them!

#2: Partner with Influencers in Your Industry or Niche

Influencer marketing has been around for decades.

Only before, it was referred to as “sponsorships” and “endorsements” and was reserved for big-shot sports, music, or movie stars.

Today, an influencer is anyone who can influence a relatively large number of people. This includes:

Influencer Retail Marketing

It also includes “micro-influencers” – anyone with around 2,000–50,000 online followers.

Influencer marketing is the process of collaborating with influencers to promote your products or services to the influencer’s audience.

It’s a powerful marketing strategy for retail stores.

On average, businesses make $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. The top 13 percent of businesses make $20 or more!

Let’s look at a retail marketing strategy example from H&M.

To promote their Fall Studio Collection, the brand partnered with Instagram fashion influencers Julie Sariñana and Ela Velden to share posts on social media promoting the clothes to their millions of followers.

Instagram Influencer Retail Marketing
#3: Run Targeted Online Advertising Campaigns

Advertising will always be one of the key ways retailers increase sales. The good news is advertising capabilities are evolving at supersonic speed. 

Today, retailers aren’t limited to advertising through channels such as TV, radio, and print media.

Pretty much every large online platform provides an opportunity to get your advertisements in front of your target market.

Want to know the best part?

Advertising platforms such as Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram provide detailed targeting and tracking features. These tools allow you to get your ads seen by only your exact target market.

And retail digital marketing ads can be highly effective. Google estimates that for every $1 a business spends on Google Ads, they receive $8 in profit!

Let’s check out two online retail marketing examples.

The image below shows music technology brands Sennheiser, Bose, and Beats by Dr.Dre promoting their headphones in search engine results with Google shopping ads.

Google Shopping Ads

You can also employ native online retail marketing strategies, such as shoppable Instagram posts that allow Instagram users to purchase products from your Instagram feed.

Instagram Shopping Post

This online retail marketing strategy allows you to connect with your target market wherever they are online, whether on social media or at the top of search engine results.

#4: Launch a Guerrilla Retail Marketing Campaign

What is guerilla marketing?

Named after guerrilla warfare, this type of retail marketing uses unconventional, creative strategies to capture the attention and interest of your target market. 

The idea is to create a provocative stir and memorable buzz about your brand or a product. Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade Marketing, explains it best: “It simply isn’t guerrilla if it isn’t newsworthy.”

This marketing strategy for retail stores has the potential to create an enormous return on investment.

Let’s look at an example of this type of retail marketing.

In 2019, the bottled water brand Fiji Water launched a guerilla marketing campaign at the US Golden Globe Award ceremony.

The red carpet is usually overflowing with celebrities vying for the spotlight.

However, it wasn’t Hollywood elite who captured the most attention, but model Kelleth Cuthbert – now famously known as the “Fiji Girl.” 

The retail marketing strategy was simple: Have Cuthbert photobomb as many celebrities on the red carpet as possible while holding a tray of Fiji water and wearing a dress that’s the same color as the brand’s bottle packaging.

Simple, but brilliant.

Fiji Water Girl Guerrilla Retail Marketing

The model’s photobombing prowess led to countless news coverage, memes, and free publicity for the bottled water company.

#5: Create an Omnichannel Retail Marketing Strategy

Today, consumers connect with businesses through multiple touchpoints.

They might see your Facebook advertisement and “Like” your page. After engaging with your posts they might visit your website or sign up to receive your promotional emails. 

Maybe they’ll spot your products in a local magazine, Google Shopping ads, or see them promoted by their favorite Instagram influencer.

In other words, consumers switch between channels instantaneously. 

For example, 59 percent of shoppers use their mobile devices in-store to compare costs or research deals and coupons.

This is why you need an omnichannel retail marketing strategy.

Omnichannel refers to a retail experience that happens across multiple points of contact. These include brick-and-mortar stores, websites, social media, online and offline ads, apps, and more.

It’s worth noting that omnichannel is different to multichannel.

In multichannel marketing, each channel works separately. However, the omnichannel strategy allows retailers to track and engage with individual consumers throughout multiple channels to develop the customer relationship.

Multi-Channel vs Omni-channel

Omnichannel is the future of commerce.

Why? Omnichannel customers spend an average of 4 percent more in-store, and 10 percent more online than single-channel customers.

In fact, the more channels a customer uses, the more they’re likely to spend!

Let’s look at a retail marketing strategy example from the fashion brand Old Navy. On the brand’s website, shoppers can browse items based on product availability in local stores. 

They can even buy online and pick up their items in store where there’s a dedicated counter to pick up online purchases.

Old Navy Omnichannel Retail Marketing Website

Also, in-store shoppers can check out on their own mobile devices using the Old Navy app or with a store assistant on a tablet. 

Employees can even order out-of-stock items to be shipped to the customer’s home. 

Old Navy Omnichannel Retail Marketing App

Remove friction and provide a stellar shopping experience with an omnichannel retail marketing strategy.

Summary: Retail Marketing Strategies

Retail marketing is the process used to promote awareness and interest in products or services to generate sales.

And effective retail marketing is essential for business success.

Most retailers base their retail marketing strategies on The 4 Ps and The 4 Cs:

  • Product / Consumer
  • Price / Cost
  • Place / Convenience
  • Promotion / Communication

There are countless marketing strategies for retail stores. Here’s a quick summary of the five that we’ve covered today:

  • Incentivize shoppers to visit your store with special in-store discounts, promotions, and events.
  • Partner with relevant influencers in your industry or niche to promote your products or services to their existing audiences.
  • Run targeted online advertising campaigns on popular channels such as Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
  • Launch a guerilla marketing campaign to promote your brand, product or service in a creative, newsworthy way.
  • Implement an omnichannel retail marketing strategy to nurture individual consumer relationships across multiple customer touchpoints.

What retail marketing strategies do you currently use? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!

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