Creating brand attraction and loyalty with kiosks
A successful retail kiosk solution is one that almost creates an iconic value for the kiosk. The look and feel of the kiosk, its branding and identity, the intuitiveness of the software and the overall ability of the kiosk solution to enable the consumer to relate to it immediately are all important aspects of brand attraction.
The creation of brand attraction encourages people to come and utilize the kiosk again and again and encourages people to have loyalty not only to the product, but also to the retailer where the kiosk resides. There is a comfort level and a trust level that is all part of the branding.
For example, in the case of a photo kiosk people are going to be less intimidated if the kiosk is branded with the name of a recognized leader in the photo processing industry. A gift card kiosk is less likely to meet with resistance from consumers if it is branded by the retailer rather than an unknown third-party operator.
"All of those factors are interrelated," said Ronald Bowers, senior vice president of business development with Frank Mayer & Associates. "The success of a kiosk solution is composed of media advertising, support materials, signage, even simple things within the store before you get to the kiosk. That branding experience is a critical aspect of the acceptance or the failure of that solution."
In the past, many kiosk deployers relied on "cool" or "cutting-edge" technology as the reason customers would use their machines. In making this assumption, deployers neglected to realize how rational consumers could be.
Retailers are beginning to move away from incorporating kiosks as simply a new technology, Bowers said.
"For years and years, if you were a brand marketer and a retailer attending a kiosk show, you would be overwhelmed by the fact that this is a technology show," Bowers said. "It was a bunch of card readers and money changers and digital signage providers, but there was nobody stepping up and telling you, â€˜This is a branded solution'."
To overcome this hurdle, every kiosk should quickly and succinctly delineate a specific problem it will solve for the consumer. Furthermore, the solution the kiosk presents must be compelling enough that it convinces the consumer to try something new.
It's no secret that loyalty to brands has been falling in recent years.
According to Decision Analyst's "Anatomy of the Recession" report, based on a survey of 15,384 U.S. grocery shoppers, consumers are moving away from loyalty to particular brands. Between the third quarter of 2007 and the third quarter of 2009, the percentage of consumers who report that they usually buy the least expensive brand regardless of the brand name increased by nine percentage points.
During the same period, the percent of Americans who are "willing to pay more for nationally advertised brands" declined. The most dramatic drop (five points) occurred in the period between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009.
"At first glance, this is troublesome news for U.S. retailers," said Diane Brewton, senior vice president of the Strategic Consulting Group at Decision Analyst. "The negative shift in loyalty to national brands coincides with the recession. As the economy trended down, consumers tried to save money by switching to less expensive alternatives. However, retail sales have stabilized enough to give us a basis for cautious optimism. Positive changes in consumer attitudes should translate into better sales for brand names in 2010. The primary uncertainty is the long-term effect private-label products will have on the branded products."
To combat the trend, retailers are increasingly turning to kiosks to reestablish brand loyalty. For example, home furnishings retailer IKEA recently deployed a number of customer loyalty-registration kiosks in six of its Belgian stores.
The kiosks offer customers the convenience of signing up for the IKEA FAMILY program in-store, and loyalty customers benefit fur-ther by being the first to know of upcoming promotions, sales and events via on-screen information targeted solely at them.
The kiosks feature 19-inch touchscreens, 80-millimeter receipt printers and keyboards.