Monthly Archives: October 2012

What’s ‘in store’ for brands this Christmas?

With Christmas (almost) around the corner and high streets already adorning their displays with festive lights and over sized pine trees, brands are busy making sure their marketing and sales plans are firmly in place. With high profile launches from Apple, Samsung and Microsoft among others, the tech sector is yet again set to be firmly in the limelight as festive shoppers rush to get their hands on the latest gadgets. Despite economic worries, Christmas often tempts people to buy big ticket tech items, but as ever, brands need to use all the tools in their arsenal to ensure people part with their money and get the tills ringing.

So what marketing activity should brands be prioritising over the next few weeks to guarantee that their products are front of mind for consumers? Last week’s Bellwether report from the IPA showed a decrease in spending across most marketing channels, with the perhaps obvious exception of online and digital, which has increased over the last quarter. It seems that most brands see the continual rise of online activity and use of social networks as a sign that marketing spend must be placed in these areas to secure sales.

In spite of overall decreases, it seems unlikely that TV advertising won’t play a huge part in brands’ Christmas strategies, and the familiar jingle bell music will surely start to ring out from our screens before November is in full flow. Hasbro, the toy manufacturer, has announced a 40 per cent increase in TV, social and online advertising budgets, due to a 12 per cent drop in boys’ toys sales. Hasbro are putting this down to a lack of screen time promotion, with no film or TV tie ups to boost merchandise sales.

However, brands should not be so quick to assume the reasons why sales may have dropped, or indeed that the solution is to increase investment in ATL and online channels. With the stress, indecision and impulsiveness that often accompanies Christmas shopping, surely brands should also be thinking about what activity they’ll be undertaking in store, in order to convert last minute buyers and assure people that their purchases are worth the money. In terms of tech products in particular, that last minute reassurance from a trained professional can be just what unsure customers need to push them from browsing to buying.

Recent Gekko research shows that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of people say they would be very unlikely to purchase gadgets and tech items such as TVs, phones or games consoles without having some kind of in store interaction or demonstration beforehand. What’s more, 44 per cent of respondents said they would like more interaction with brands in store and that it would tempt them to buy more products. In such a tumultuous economic environment, brands would be foolish to ignore such obvious cries for attention from consumers. Properly trained, dynamic brand ambassadors, who can demystify complex gadgets and point out their capabilities and features, are vital when the consumer reaches that point where they decide either to buy or to walk away.

An additional investment in this sort of field marketing activity can be hugely impactful for brands, and if done correctly, can reap massive rewards without putting a big dent in marketing budgets. The investment does not and should not be done in an isolated manner either. A strong creative strategy and theme can be woven expertly across channels, and if this is also echoed by in store and experiential activity, there’s a greater chance that the theme will resonate deeper with consumers and drive them towards the tills.

There is no doubt that other marketing channels have a huge role to play throughout the festive period, and it’s no surprise that Hasbro is investing money in TV, social and online. However, although toys may have a different target audience to tech brands, the principle remains the same. Investment in dedicated, knowledgeable brand representatives, who can make a connection with consumers and leave them with a memorable impression of both the product and the brand, is sure to leave both customers and marketers with a smile on their face this Christmas.



Daniel Todaro, Gekko.

It’s all over for Analogue


The analogue TV signal in Northern Ireland will be turned off permanently on Tuesday night (23rd October 2012), completing the final stage of the UK digital switchover.

The final stage of the digital switchover will be completed at 11.30pm, when viewers in Northern Ireland will lose their analogue signal.  It is the last part of the UK to switch off the signal, which has been in use for more than 70 years.  Households across the rest of the UK have already switched to digital over the course of the last four years.  

Field Marketing agency Gekko has been instrumental in the switchover programme, working with Digital UK to support the retail channel. Teams of Digital UK Retail Support Executives, recruited and managed by Gekko Field Marketing, have been delivering training and support to retailers across the UK since 2008. The work of the RSEs has been praised by many in the industry who recognise that the face-to-face support has been invaluable in preparing retailers and their staff for the switchover process.

In that time some 34,000 store visits have been completed by the RSE team and nearly 75,000 retail staff have benefitted from the training on offer.  In 2009 the quality of the training provided was recognised at the Field Marketing & Brand Experience awards where the programme won the ‘Best Retail Training’ award.

The latest IPA Bellwether report has seen marketing budgets, outwith online budgets, forecast down for the second consecutive quarter as a result of continued global economic uncertainly. The Drum approached some of those involved in the marketing industry for their reaction to the latest figures.  Among those commenting is Dan Todaro, MD of Gekko.

“Today’s findings don’t come as a massive surprise – we are, after all, in tight times financially and the gut reaction for many brands is to focus spend on rapidly developing areas such as online and search. However, recent Gekko research shows that despite the decrease in spend shown here in the Bellwether, FM in particular still has huge value, and indeed can boost and increase sales for brands if executed correctly, even with limited budgets in place.”

“The survey revealed that 44% of consumers would be more likely to buy tech products and gadgets if they’d had a product demonstration or other brand interaction in-store, and a third (32%) said that this activity would tempt them to spend an additional 20% on products and accessories. Surely this is an argument for brands to re-think their spending strategy and reap the clear rewards that FM activity has to offer? It’s true that marketing budgets will continue to be squeezed, but listening to what consumers want and what makes them buy is ultimately the best way to predict and achieve success.”

Full article at

Reaction Roundup: IPA Bellwether Report for Q4 2012

Making a difference with Field Marketing

As the UK’s leading technology focused field marketing agency, Gekko has always been confident in the benefits that this marketing discipline delivers for brands in the retail channel.

To support our claims that field marketing can make a real difference, we commissioned independent research looking at how marketing activity at the point of purchase impacts on consumers buying or thinking about buying technology products (TV, Smart Phone, Tablet device, Digital Camera etc.)  The findings from 2,000 respondents revealed some interesting consumer attitudes.

The survey began by asking consumers whether they would purchase a technology product on the basis of only having seen a TV advert, with 23% responding that they would be very unlikely to do so. When asked whether their buying decisions would be influenced by some form of interaction with the product, such as a demonstration within the retailer, 44% indicated that it would.  With over two fifths of respondents saying they would welcome extra interaction, the case for brand led activity within retailers is certainly strengthened. Despite the prevalence of online shopping, the opportunities for high street retailers are still very much there for the taking.  Interestingly this desire for brand interaction is not just limited to older age groups as 52% of 18 to 24 year olds expressed a preference for a product demonstration before purchasing.

The argument for deploying brand ambassadors in to retail is bolstered further by the fact that  44% of consumers  would be more likely to spend more on their purchases having been subjected to a product demonstration.  In other words the opportunity for increasing the average basket value of each transaction is greatly enhanced through effective selling up through product ranges and of accessories and consumables.  Three quarters of those surveyed said they would be prepared to spend up to 30% more on technology following such a brand interaction.

What is clear from this research is that whilst online research may well feature in many people’s purchasing process for tech gadgets, there is nothing quite like effective face to face contact on the shop floor to clinch the sale.  Employing skilled brand advocates in retail will help in steering consumers to your product line-up.  Evidence for this can been seen in recent campaigns conducted by Gekko.  One client campaign, which ran over Christmas 2011, saw 61% of people who received a product demonstration going on to purchase that particular brand.  Of these buyers, 62% also bought branded attachments, and in doing so increased the average value of each transaction, benefiting both brand and retailer alike.

About Gekko

Field Marketing Agency Gekko is a highly effective award winning agency providing imaginative and results-driven solutions to the technology sector throughout the UK and Ireland.  At Gekko we have a proven track record in the supply of field marketing services including merchandising, product demonstration, mystery shopping, training, events and compliance auditing as well as longer term strategic teams.

Research conducted by OnePoll.  Sample size – 2,000.

No substitute for on-the-ground insight

Leading FM agency Gekko features in an article in Marketing magazine about the use of technology in the world of field marketing.

Marketers can spend all day in front of a screen checking on market research results and sales figures, but there’s nothing like getting out of the office and into stores to truly understand the way consumers shop. As novelist John le Carre warned: ‘A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.’

Tim Bedward from Epson, one of Gekko’s top clients, mentions that when it comes to selling high-ticket priced items face to face contact is still vital and that staff training in particular can really boost sales. Brands need to engage with store sales staff to make sure they understand the strong points of a product so they are enthused enough to promote it effectively to consumers. The staff – especially Christmas temps – need to be engaged just as much as the consumers.

‘Delivering practical training through iPads and interactive sessions can make a difference in how quickly your team is able to understand and immerse themselves in your company values and in the way they go forward and interact with customers,’ he says. ‘Shop floor staff are your key brand ambassadors for every consumer that enters the store. By involving an appropriate use of technology to enhance the training experience, it ensures you have an army of enthusiastic, empowered staff who build relationships with shoppers. Technology plays an invaluable role in maximising effectiveness and fostering positivity and a sense of team.’

The use of technology in training staff is helping real-world retailers fight back against the threat from online sales. This is the view of Daniel Todaro, managing director of field marketing agency Gekko, which specialises in consumer electronics. The agency worked with Epson to create a training plan for retail staff that was delivered by the field team via iPads.

This technology allows what Todaro calls a ‘one-device technology solution’ that comprises training, product presentation and demonstration materials, as well as photo capture and point-of-sale ordering. ‘Technology does not make the experience, it enhances it,’ he says. ‘Consumers (use) channels such as mobile to research, but expertly trained staff offer a level of guidance and reassurance that can give consumers confidence in their purchases that can’t be found online. People need to be at the centre of the field-marketing experience.’

Full article at: