MARI Launches

Sponsored by leading brands Coca Cola, Diageo, and Unilever, along with a fourth unnamed brand, the first field trial for the Marketing at Retail Initiative (MARI) has been launched by POPAI UK and Ireland in Morrisons Supermarkets plc. "We are increasingly asked by retailers to buy into in-store media packages, yet we don't know what the most effective methods are for our company and our brands," says Manus Blessing, Category Development Manager, Diageo. "The measurement of impact and engagement is vitally important to Diageo, and, with MARI, we will be able to monitor this for the first time."

The MARI study is designed to measure in-store POP and retail communication in order to put their measurement on a par with other media such as print and broadcast by providing information on opportunities to see marketing materials both for the store as a whole and within specific categories. Visibility will also be measured. For the first time, measurements of shopper engagement will show what shoppers actually looked at across the store in terms of in-store media.

"The importance of truly understanding in-store POP cannot be underestimated," states Nick Widdowson, Merchandising Manager, Unilever UK Foods. "We have the chance to establish a new language for the accountability of POP that will allow it to be compared with other media, thus allowing brands to make a more informed choice on media spend decisions."

The metrics trial is a proof of concept that, if found to be successful, will be scaled up to provide measures across a range of retailers and sectors. The next stage of the MARI program will examine ROI and message effectiveness, and will provide a full picture of the in-store environment, allowing brands and retailers to plan their in-store executions with a far greater degree of sophistication than has been the case historically.

"For years we have been told that the only measure of in-store media should be sales uplift," says Martin Kingdon, Director General, POPAI UK and Ireland. "The MARI study offers us the first real opportunity to see in-store in its true light as a medium that attracts the shopper, offers an audience, and builds brands either in conjunction with other media or as a stand alone. The MARI study will change the media landscape".

Using technology provided by RMS Instore, the study will evaluate POP in category as well as across the store so that each type of POP or display may be evaluated at both shelf, category and store level. The MARI study is also launching in the US in January in grocery, convenience, forecourt, and pharmacy sectors. Sponsors there include Anheuser Busch, Pepsi, Frito Lay, and McKee Foods. Sponsorships are still available for the US study.