In-store and online promotions are obvious methods to influence consumers' purchase decisions. But shopper marketing agencies have an array of more subtle techniques to help to put brand A above brand Z.
Perfume brands pump out scents to encourage sales, while hotels use the technique as a way to entice visitors. But some brands also use discreet "scent marketing" in the supermarket aisle. This is being tested in the UAE by the shopper marketing agency Integer MENA. The company hopes to start releasing the smell of Galaxy chocolate in supermarkets in an attempt to boost sales. "We're currently recreating the smell of [the] chocolate, to spray down the aisles," said Nassim Nasr, the general manager of Integer MENA. "We're working on it now … If we get to do this, we'll be able to have the person smell the chocolate, not just see it."
Dina Howell, the worldwide chief executive for Saatchi X, said shopper marketing agencies had a role in promoting products online. This even extends to product-review sites and blogs.
"We may have worked with a manufacturer to help set up and get people to think about blogging, or think about reviewing brands that maybe they might not have looked at before," Ms Howell told The National earlier this year.
The 'male creche'
Bored boyfriends and husbands waiting outside dress shops represent a major "barrier to purchase", says Richard Nicoll, the Mena managing director of Saatchi X. "We found that men were cutting short the shopping trip," he says. "It's not been raised as a problem here [in the UAE]. But it may become a problem."
One solution is creating male-friendly spaces where men can wait. Mr Nicoll says he once worked on an initial concept for creating such a space at the Bluewater shopping centre in England. "The men could go and watch the football and chill out," he says. "It was almost like a male creche."
* Ben Flanagan