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NFC - a mobile engagement game changer

NFC – A Mobile Engagement Game Changer!

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By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso

NFC IS HERE! NFC IS FINALLY HERE!!  Well almost….  At Apple’s developer conference this week, while not highlighted as a shiny new feature or gadget, Apple said they would FINALLY open the NFC chip to third parties.  For those of you who are wondering what the heck “NFC” is, Near Field Communications is a special micro-chip and protocol within mobile devices that power very close range communications between active (phones) and passive devices (chips that get power from a close-range phone signal).  Essentially, all a user would need to do is tap their phone to a pre-programmed NFC chip and their phone will automatically open up the corresponding app or website and deliver the intended content or perform the intended action. NFC is what powers Apple Pay.  If you are an Android user, your device has likely had NFC capabilities for several years (lucky dogs).  But Apple has, until IOS 11 (due this fall) kept the NFC chip locked for use exclusively by Apple Pay.

What does this mean? In other words, what can NFC do for us marketers…?  It is my belief that ubiquitous NFC (active and available on every mobile device) is possibly the single biggest game changer for the physical shopping experience we have seen thus far in AdTech.  It could save (or at least help innovate) retail as well as the experience that consumers have both in physical retail and with the products they purchase.

There are countless “flavor-of-the-day” startups who are slaving over hot source code building the next retail engagement platform (we are one…).  But what we have not seen from these purported “game changers”, “innovators” and “market leaders” is the ability to change the path to purchase in a meaningful way.  Either A.) it takes too many tech components (a mobile app, Bluetooth, beacons, GPS, enabled location services, etc.), or; B.) they are too creepy to convince a shopper to engage and surrender their anonymity.  Both scenarios introduce friction and thus have not catalyzed the evolution of the shopping journey.

Introduce NFC….  Imagine the ability to tap your phone on an aisle endcap, window cling or product display to get immediate product details, price comparison and even location-centric deals, discounts and offers.  In this scenario, control of the digitally supplemented shopping journey is held by the shopper – not the retailer or the brand attempting to disrupt your footfall.  And NFC is cheap and easy to deploy. When coupled with a powerful platform which supports multiple methods of consumer engagement, a brand or retailer will be empowered with optics into what, how and when engagement happens, as well as insight into conversion rates at each step of the shopping journey.  A novel idea – transparency to shopper marketing ROI – say it isn’t so.  Yep – it IS so, and its right around the corner.  We believe that NFC will create a frictionless path to engagement which will revolutionize the way people interact with brands and retailers on their path to purchase.  Thank you Apple!  Its about time!



SMS Marketing

Give Text Message Marketing A Chance

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By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso

It may seem passé, but text message marketing (or SMS marketing) still offers a variety of benefits for brands looking to engage consumers. From QR codes to branded apps, marketers are often tempted to jump on the hottest promotional tool of the moment. Depending on your target audience and campaign objectives, that tool may in fact be your best option, but it’s important not to overlook more traditional, “tried and true” platforms—SMS included.

In case you’re still skeptical, here’s some insight into why you should give text marketing another look and a few ways to get the most out of SMS campaigns, based on our corporate partners’ experiences and successes.

Some Features are Popular With A Broad Spectrum of Smartphone UsersOptimal Reach

Promotional email open rates range from 17-27 percent, while 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes, which can triple or quadruple the chance your SMS promos and offers actually reaching subscribers. According to a Pew Research survey on smartphone usage in 2015, texting is the most widely- and frequently-used smartphone app, with 97 percent of Americans using it at least once a day. SMS marketing also allows you to reach the 32 percent of consumers who still don’t have a smart phone, according to Pew’s 2015 device ownership survey.

High Enrollment, Low Opt-Out

While mobile brand apps are gaining popularity, SMS messaging still has the highest enrollment. Today’s consumers—Millennials in particular—want quick, easy and relevant interactions, which is exactly what SMS provides. Every SMS message you distribute must include clearly stated opt-out instructions, yet opt-out rates for text marketing programs are substantially lower than email. This is simply because consumers receive so few promotional texts, compared to barrage of promotional “spam” emails that hit their inbox every day.

Consumers expect more immediate experience

Incentive to Stay

Once a customer has opted in to your SMS program, you need to give them reasons to stay in the club. Hook users from the gate with special offers or freebies within minutes of signing up. The goal is to convert recipients into paying customers, so make sure each SMS message sent has a clear call to action, such as a BOGO, discount or gift with purchase. Everyone loves to be a winner, so text-to-win campaigns are also a great way to keep opt-out rates to a minimum and sweepstakes can drive engagement on other channels, like your mobile site or brand app. Additionally, respond-to-enter programs help evaluate which campaigns are most effective and identify highly engaged users.

Get the Word Out

You may have the best SMS offers in the world, but unless your customers know the benefits of enrolling, your efforts are guaranteed to fall flat. The best way to boost awareness varies by industry, but there are plenty of options and cross-channel strategies. At restaurants, table tents, menu inserts and drive-thru signage can help get the word out. For a variety of brick-and-mortar retailers, cashier contests give checkout staff an incentive to encourage customers to enroll face-to-face. Major national campaigns may even warrant a press release to spread the news, like the announcement McDonald’s issued last week about the text-to-win sweepstakes component of its partnership with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Of the billions of text messages exchanged around the world each month, more and more are commercial or marketing-related. As customers become more familiar with business-related texts, the power of SMS will increase. Now is the time to get ahead of the curve and establish your mobile presence today.




POP Display

Money Wasted – Barriers to POP Display Efficacy

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By: Stephanie Carson, CMO of Blue Calypso

Despite all the hype about online shopping, consumers are still making the majority of their purchases at brick-and-mortar retailers, which means marketers need to use every inch of available in-store advertising space to the fullest. Point-of-purchase (POP) signage and displays are an increasingly important tool to help consumer brands cut through the clutter, stand out on retail shelves and improve category performance.

When done well, POP displays reinforce consistent brand messaging for retailers, manufacturers and shoppers. All marketers hope their in-store materials will encourage impulse buys, but when POP displays are deliberately designed and deployed with the target shopper in mind, the results can far exceed one-time purchases. The key is leveraging POP materials to truly connect with consumers, which can boost positive product perception, sway brand loyalty and ultimately increase sales.

However, much to the chagrin of marketers everywhere, the benefits of their carefully crafted POP displays can quickly diminish due to a variety of common problems. Here are a few of the barriers to POP effectiveness and some tips to overcome them. These recommendations can help brands ensure that valuable marketing dollars don’t go to waste on poorly placed, ineffective or improperly deployed POP materials.

Location, Location, Location

POP display placement can have a significant impact on its success. The most popular POP real estate is usually at the store entrance or on main aisle forward-facing endcaps. Front-of-store displays immediately catch consumers’ attention and can often lead to spontaneous product grabs, while endcap displays can lure shoppers to shelves they otherwise wouldn’t have visited. Department-specific displays are also highly effective, since shoppers visiting that department are already interested in the product category when they arrive to browse the aisles. Alternately, marketers should try to avoid back-of-store endcaps, where even well-designed and flawlessly executed POP displays can be overlooked or never seen at all.

The best way to secure the most sought-after display placements is to establish and build relationships with retailers. While paying more for prime locations is sometimes a factor, becoming a true partner will lead to the greatest results. Marketers should listen to retailers’ business goals and try to align promotions or products to help meet those objectives. The stronger the relationship, the more likely retailers are to favor a brand when assigning placements.

Quality = Quality

Unfortunately, all too often brands take the less expensive route and manufacture POP displays out of low-cost materials that can be easily damaged, such as cardboard. Despite the sticker shock that can accompany high-quality displays, marketers must remember that you get what you pay for. A cardboard sign may be easy on the budget at production time, but ROI quickly diminishes if it only lasts for half the intended lifecycle. Whereas displays made with higher-quality, more durable materials can withstand transportation, setup, cleaning and frequent in-store contact.

In marketing, perception equals reality, and POP displays are no exception. When shoppers see well-designed POP displays, they often make a mental connection between the quality of the display and the associated product. In turn, cheaply-made displays can have an adverse effect on consumers’ opinion of the promoted product. For brands trying to improve quality perception, semi-permanent POP displays may be the right solution. These longer-lasting in-store fixtures are designed to be easily cleaned and restocked, so they always look brand new. Long-term displays also reduce the need for frequent repairs and replacements, resulting in greater success and higher return on investment.

Confirm Compliance

Much to the dismay of marketers, it is almost impossible to determine if POP displays are executed correctly. Brands rely on store employees and display installation companies to follow their instructions, but are unable to monitor every store nationwide. Instead, they end up comparing program costs to net sales gains, or not tracking displays at all.

Brands must oversee in-store efforts with a display management solution, such as POPTrak™, that tracks the entire lifecycle of POP displays in real time. These tools allow marketers to:

  • Quickly organize materials for each display and provide clear setup instructions
  • Communicate with retailers to validate that each display is installed in the correct store location
  • Confirm that fixtures and displays are properly installed and maintained throughout the campaign
  • Send retailers notifications when it’s time to tear down the displays
  • Have complete transparency from beginning to end throughout the entire development, shipping, installation and deactivation processes.

POP displays can be highly effective in driving consumer awareness, engagement and sales, but many marketers fall prey to common design and installation errors. To overcome these barriers, marketers must look at the big picture and address some crucial questions. Will shoppers see our display in this part of the store? Does the display quality reflect our brand identity? Does the in-store installation match my original design and expectations?

With these questions in mind, marketers can help make sure that the dollars they invest in POP displays generate the intended results and enhance comprehensive marketing campaigns.

How is your in-store display execution compliance impacting your bottom line?

In-Store Display Execution Compliance [Free Infographic]

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By Vivian Pham, Director of Marketing and Client Services for Blue Calypso

According to the POPAI 2014 Mass Merchant Study, 82% of purchase decisions are made in-store which is why it is crucial for manufacturers to develop and deploy the right point-of-purchase (POP) displays to influence and guide consumers on their path to purchase. If done right, POP displays can engage shoppers at the right place and the right time to drive impulse buys and significantly increase sales. 

Billions of dollars are spent every year trying to capitalize on this very concept. Marketing teams spend countless hours dreaming up profound and alluring campaigns that are meant to be carried out by in-store displays that will motivate shoppers to buy their product. They painstakingly map out every last detail of how these displays are to be executed to maximize effectiveness. Then they must pass along control at the most crucial point of execution – installation at the store level.

This is why it is so important to understand the level of successful execution of in-store marketing programs all the way down to the ability to track successful delivery and setup of displays, in the correct location and with the right products, over a variety of retail channels and display types. Brands need to know if their POP displays are being set up compliantly and what the cost of lost sales opportunities are resulting from non-compliance. 

Check out these powerful industry statistics around in-store display execution in the FREE infographic below:

Click here to download this FREE infographic.

If your brand has ever deployed in-store display, how is the display execution compliance impacting your bottom line? Tell us in the comments below!

The Power of POP Display

The Power of POP Displays: Why Consumers Make Most Purchasing Decisions In Store

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By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso

The traditional shopping path to purchase is no longer a simple straight-line journey with five steps: awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase and loyalty. These days, it is a web of interwoven arrows moving in all directions. There are a multitude of online and offline factors that influence consumers’ purchasing decisions throughout the process. Brands can no longer focus on one or even two channels to reach potential customers. Instead, they must play an integral role through the entire journey.

Most marketers understand we live in a digitally driven society and realize how important it is to have a strong online and social media presence. Additionally, traditional marketing efforts, such as tailored print and TV advertisements, are still popular and can be an effective way of reaching large targeted audience groups. However, marketers are forgetting about one essential piece of the puzzle.

There is a major opportunity missed if brands are not integrating traditional marketing efforts with the in-store experience. Shopping in traditional brick and mortar stores is not going away, despite the popularity of online purchasing. In fact, according to a PwC 2015 annual survey, only 27 percent of consumers shop online weekly. This means 68 percent of consumers stated they intentionally browsed products at a store but decided to purchase them online, while 73 percent say they have browsed products online but decided to purchase them in store.

Consumers still find the in-store experience of seeing and picking up the products an integral part of the purchasing journey and, therefore, brands must capitalize on this environment through point-of-purchase (POP) displays. These displays come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but all have the purpose of attracting a consumer’s eye and standing out among their competitors.

In order to have effective in-store marketing, POP displays must be visually appealing and engaging to shoppers. Consider the following tips when deploying POP displays:

  1. Understand your target audience’s preferences

Who are you trying to reach? Young females? Older men? Keep your target audience in mind when making all design decisions, from colors and fonts to graphics or videos. POP displays are meant to increase in-store sales so understanding your audience’s preferences is essential to attracting their attention.

  1. Engage the consumer and appeal to their emotions

It’s no secret that effective advertising appeals to a consumer’s emotions, and POP displays should be no different. The display itself as well as the graphics, words or elements on it should be humanized so shoppers can relate to the brand and understand the message and why they should buy your product.

  1. Demonstrate how the product works

Demos via photos or an interactive screen can help the brand differentiate itself from the competition. The demos should be easy to follow, short and engaging so the choice becomes instantly clear on which product is best.

  1. Make it easy for consumers to pick up the product

POP displays can come in the form of signage, floor mats, stickers or various shelf units. While all can be effective, it is ideal to have a display that hosts the product on it so it is easy for customers to grab and go, instead of searching for it in the aisles. Consider also deploying a floor mat or stickers leading customers to additional in-aisle products that are complementary to the product displayed.

  1. Design for durability, both in packaging and installation

Unfortunately, there are a lot of hands that handle your displays from when they leave the design shop until they are deployed in store. Ensure the packaging is durable so the display is not damaged and the installation instructions are simple. Additionally, the display itself should be made out of sturdy materials to withstand consumers or store staff members potentially bumping into it.

  1. Track the entire lifecycle of each display

Remember, no marketing campaign can be successful and help change consumers’ minds in store if the displays are not installed correctly. Brands must utilize a display management solution, like POPTrak™, to track the entire POP display lifecycle in real time for each of their unique displays. These solutions ensure no marketing dollars are wasted on displays that are installed incorrectly or sit in storage and never make it to the store floor.

As consumers continue to go in physical stores a high majority of the time somewhere along their purchasing journey, brands must take an active role in engaging them as they browse the aisles. POP displays can help the consumer choose between your brand and a competitor, so don’t lose the sale because the marketing stops at the store door. By spending marketing dollars on a mix of in-store efforts along with online and traditional means, brands are sure to see an increase in profitability and product sales.

A Brand’s Hidden Problem: Ineffective POP Display

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By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso


Today, brands have numerous options when it comes to reaching their target audience via marketing efforts, including digital, broadcast, print and in-store opportunities. For years, in-store displays have taken a backseat to other methods that appear to be more successful in reaching consumers. For example, 76 percent of businesses use promoted posts and search engine marketing due to the prevalence of digital media and consumers’ preference in searching for information online, as seen in Content Marketing Institutes’ 2016 benchmark study. However, by not deploying in-store displays and marketing materials, brands are missing a major opportunity in the customer shopping journey.

According to POPAI’s Mass Merchant Shopper Engagement Study, consumers make 82 percent of purchase decisions in store, focusing not only on shopping list items but also impulse buys when they walk the aisles. This behavior can lead a customer to try new products as well as potentially persuading them to switch brands.

While in store, point-of-purchase (POP) displays can directly impact a customer’s purchasing decision as the signage or fixture can focus the consumer’s eye on that particular brand. There are various types of POP displays that brands can deploy depending on the desired customer engagement they are seeking, such as shelf displays, floor stands, endcaps and floor mats.

While all types can grab shoppers’ attention, a large part of ensuring they will be effective is by confirming they are deployed correctly. This includes installing the signage or stand properly, as well as tearing down the displays when a promotion ends. Unfortunately, all too often displays sit in storage or are not set up correctly, as demonstrated in POPAI’s Compliance Initiative Study that notes 58 percent of POP displays are not installed properly to satisfy a brand’s standards.

When this happens, the effectiveness is significantly diminished, impacting customer transactions and brand loyalty. This in turn can hinder the relationships between brands and retailers, as product sales are not as profitable as they could be and ineffective POP displays are taking up valuable real estate within the store.

Furthermore, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine exactly how POP displays affect each shopper. Right now, most businesses can only speculate that a compliantly executed display could lead to an increase in sales, and most do not have any formal way of tracking this process. Instead, they rely on comparing the program cost against the net sales gained or they simply do not track at all.

In order to ensure no marketing dollars are wasted, workflow management solutions, like POPTrak, allow businesses to track the entire POP display lifecycle in real time for each of their unique displays. Beginning with a quick scan of a QR code, NFC chip or a text message activation, brand marketers, merchandisers, distributors and other operational staff members are able to quickly view and monitor the process of receiving materials, video setup training, deployment, and validation of successful execution via mobile video and pictures.

In addition, to truly capture engagement with each POP display, brands should enable mobile shopper engagement options on the POP displays that allow consumers to interact with the brand or product directly through their smartphones. A platform that tracks the activations, such as KIOSentrix, can provide an additional level of validation that the POP displays are not only installed correctly, but are also catching the attention of shoppers. The two working in conjunction allow marketers to truly have a 360 degree view of how their POP displays are being deployed and their effectiveness in reaching customers throughout retail locations.

With an ever-growing amount of brands competing for consumers’ attention in store, businesses cannot afford to risk their POP displays being installed incorrectly or in some cases not at all. And with the help of today’s latest mobile technologies and platforms, brand executives can assess and understand their marketing challenges in real time, which can only improve these antiquated processes more readily and across all operational departments.

The future of in-store display management is here. Are you ready?

Summer Travel — How Travel Organizations can Capitalize on Increased Traffic & Tourism via Mobile Solutions

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By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso

Gone are the days of Mapsco and printed city attraction lists. Nowadays when any consumer leaves their house, the chances that they have their smartphone on them is practically a guarantee, especially when traveling to a new city. Our smartphones have become a necessity and act as a sacred lifeline between us and the happenings of the lively city, cool restaurants nearby or the best shops in town to peruse.

In fact, according to TripAdivsor’s TripBarometer Connected Traveler report, 42 percent of travelers worldwide use smartphones to plan or book their trips. This leaves a major opportunity for businesses in the travel and tourism industry to engage consumers on their smartphones and provide much sought-after information such as hotel reviews, restaurant locations, excursion details and prices, etc.

Tourism companies of all types, such as hotel chains, airlines and city attraction groups, should explore ways to engage and interact with consumers, rather than only marketing to them. Consider deploying the following mobile marketing tactics in your summer promotional campaigns.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps can provide detailed information about the company, its tourism offerings and serve as a place for consumers to learn more and interact with the brand. A great example of a branded app that serves as a resource for travelers is the “I Love NY” app. As the official tourism app for the state of New York, it displays thousands of attractions, events, hotels, parks, restaurants and more that allow consumers to plan the perfect travel itinerary – all from the convenience of their mobile device. Additionally, it helps travelers navigate the city with its maps, stay informed with location-based alerts and share activities with friends and family via social media channels. This platform shows the power that a branded app can have on becoming an invaluable source of information for travelers. Brands can also become part of a multi-branded app program if they do not want to invest in an individually-branded one. These apps can provide the same benefits to company, but allow the consumer to have one app as opposed to multiple for each brand they interact with.

Aggregator Apps

If a tourism organization does not have the resources or desire for a branded app, then it should at least ensure its information is available and consistently up-to-date on aggregator apps. These apps collect basic information and provide all of the data in one place. For example, Expedia and Priceline gather flight and booking information, and display it in one place for consumers. It is also important to remember consumers typically turn to aggregator apps to write reviews for city attractions or restaurants. Therefore, executives should regularly monitor the information posted about their organization and be aware of customer feedback.

Social Media

In today’s digital age, it is also necessary for brands to engage travelers via social media channels, especially since most users access these platforms via mobile. Many times, consumers will turn to social media as a resource to gain information in lieu of websites or when they want to interact directly with a brand. This occurs regularly with airlines where travelers will reach out via social media to see why their plane is delayed or to complain about poor customer service. Consider regularly posting helpful information for those traveling and monitor the conversations that are taking place. Being transparent and utilizing social media as a customer service tool, like Southwest, will help brands build a positive reputation among the traveling community.

SMS Short Codes

Texting is the most popular and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97 percent of Americans sending a text at least once a day. Not only is texting highly ubiquitous, but it can be a fun and highly effective marketing tactic. SMS text programs involve a keyword and a 5-6 digit phone number or “short code” to engage individuals and invite them to opt in to receive future messages. To do this, brands should offer some kind of incentive for customers to send the initial text message with the specific keyword to the designated “short code,” such as “HOTEL” to 55555. Once the text is delivered, the user will receive a message inviting them to opt-in to receive a link to the microsite, which contains the incentive. Consider using this method to offer travelers a discount on a city attraction or hotel night rate when they line up at the front desk. Consumers are more likely to interact with a brand if they can gain a reward quickly and do not have to do more than text to redeem the offer.

Regardless of what mobile marketing tactics you choose to deploy, remember the organization’s main website should be responsive and mobile-friendly in case customers search via their smartphone browsers first.

As the lifeline of consumers, tourism brands have a real opportunity to reach travelers and visitors via their mobile devices. Take some time this summer to explore what mobile marketing tactics will reach your target audience most effectively. By engaging via smartphones, brands can improve and greatly impact the decisions of consumers and become the go-to resource for tourism-related information.

How Brands can Revolutionize Store Aisles via CPG Mobile Marketing

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By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso

The consumer purchase journey continues to become highly segmented with shoppers browsing multiple channels and engaging with more types of content than ever before on their smartphones. However, according to the Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric, only 16 percent of consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands even use mobile advertising.

With a growing “mobile only” internet population and an estimated 250 million mobile phone users in the U.S. alone, not only do brands need to prioritize mobile, but they should also think about how they can enhance their mobile content to provide more personalized, engaging experiences. A great way to do this is by utilizing the real estate on the packages themselves!

Brands can deploy calls-to-action on their products that direct consumers to a microsite with additional information, coupons and deals, loyalty program sign-ups and much more. CPG marketing via text codes, QR codes and near field communication can be highly effective in increasing consumer engagement with the brand and driving product sales.

In order to be successful, brands must deliver the right message to their target audience. In a classic chicken-or-the-egg scenario, to deliver the right message, brands need to fully understand what their target audience is looking for. For instance, moms with primary-school aged kids may be interested in tips and recipes to get their kids to eat more broccoli, while health-conscious individuals would want information related to the nutritional value and source of the ingredients. Microsites can meet the needs of these various audiences by offering detailed information and advice based on their preferences and behavior. This interaction will go beyond the brick and mortar experience and position the brand as the go-to resource for information and further develop brand loyalty.

At the same time, using the right channel to deliver this information is also critical. Consider deploying one of the following marketing channels on products and packages:

  • Short codes use a keyword and a 5-6 digit phone number to engage individuals and invite them to opt in to a text program. To do this, customers must first send a text message with a specific keyword to the designated number, such as “VEGGIES” to 55555. Once the text is delivered, they will receive a message inviting them to opt-in to receive a link to the microsite.
  • QR codes, or quick response codes, are two-dimensional barcodes in the form of a black and white patterned square that consumers can scan using a reader application via their smartphone. Once the app reads the code, it automatically opens the mobile device’s web browser and loads the microsite.
  • Near field communication (NFC) functionality is essentially the transferring of data wirelessly. Once two NFC chips come in close proximity of each other, such as one located on the package and the other in the consumer’s smartphone, the package chip will transfer the information to the receiving end instantaneously.

Although it may require some trial-and-error to fully understand your target audience’s channel preferences, the payout in the long run can be exponential. There’s much to be gained by offering a final in-store push and another differentiator for your brand compared to competitors. The CPG industry has long been behind in the marketing game, and this year it’s time for brands to step up their efforts and consider the positive impact that mobile marketing can have on their brand loyalty and annual sales.