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Marketing Matters: Multi-channeling Key to Success

By: Donna C. Barson
Posted: August 28, 2008, from the April 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The lesson here is that the company projected for the future before it became the present, identified a challenge and implemented a proactive solution. It took a large financial commitment, but the improved bottom line shows the wisdom of the company’s approach.

More importantly, the company did not neglect old style bricks-and-mortar selling. While upgrading their Internet shopping experience, the company offered store-based events, such as by-invitation-only private shopping nights for their Rewards customers. These special nights came complete with refreshments and other perks, the intent being to tell its customers that the company cares about them. Obviously, the compliment was returned.

For a specific example of how multi-channeling can help in beauty retailing, cast your eyes across the Big Pond to England. In reaction to studies indicating that 60% of males were bewildered by the vast array of choices available in female perfumes—the consensus was that respondents would choose the safe route by purchasing a bottle of their ladies’ already preferred brand—Boots created the Fragrance Finder, a tool that categorizes perfume according to its scent genealogy. Seeking increased sales, the company had to make marketing fragrances simpler for men, in order to allow their comfort zone to expand along with his buying experience.

The Fragrance Finder displays the relationships between perfumes in a visual manner, to make it easy to understand linkage. If a woman’s favorite scent is lilac, the Fragrance Finder indicates fragrances that utilize lilac, thus allowing the male to venture beyond the comfort zone of the same old thing, yet remain within the predetermined aesthetic.

Boots then took the idea to the next logical step and multi-channeled it, by making the Fragrance Finder available both online and in-store, resulting in 50,000 unique user visits to the online Fragrance Finder site and in-store response so strong that the Finder will be available year-round, not just at strong fragrance sales times, like Valentine’s Day.