Four Tips to Maximizing Forecourt Merchandising and Promotion

Lottery Tickets

A number of years ago, a major provincial lottery was one of my firm’s largest clients.

I remember commiserating over their challenge in communicating, and more importantly, implementing “Best Retail Practices” across a vast network of C-Store and Petroleum retailers, most of whom were independents.

Probably one of the most important messages they tried to get across to their retailers was the effect that forecourt merchandising and promotion had on ticket sales (specifically the jackpot total).

There is a strong correlation between the size of the jackpot and sales momentum. As jackpot totals climb, ticket sales grow exponentially.

Locations that had poorly maintained exterior jackpot signage (inaccurate or out of date) also had dramatically lower sales.

This phenomenon holds true for virtually any product that is promoted in the Forecourt.

Is Your Forecourt Used Effectively?

In retail marketing terms, the Forecourt is:

  • The open area in front of a C-Store or Petroleum Retailer – most commonly, the area where the fuel pumps are located (for traditional C-Store without petroleum, this would include the curbside/roadside space where advertising can reach a vast number of motorists).

It is also probably the most poorly maintained or under-utilized area for advertising and promotions.

Without forecourt promotion, you are relying on customers’ entry to the store to promote products or services. In today’s world of “Pay at the Pump” services, that occurrence is rare.

Limited time offer1. Limited Time Offers

Strict adherence to start and end dates for Limited Time Offers, or LTO’s will ensure your messaging is relevant and therefore better received.

Expired LTO’s just create visual clutter and increase the chance that more current communication is missed or overlooked.

Take down all promo material on the expiry date of the LTO.

This includes both the forecourt and in-store elements.

2. Seasonally Relevant Promotions

Offering a deal on ice cream or frozen novelties in the northern part of the country during January will likely be a fruitless venture as the last thing consumers are thinking about is ice cream in the freezing temps.

By contrast however, this would be an excellent time of the year to promote a food service offering, especially comfort foods such as:

  • Hot Chocolate.
  • Coffee.
  • Soups.
  • Chili.

3. Create a Clear Path

Forecourt promotions should always be connected to in-store and on-store communications.

Assuming your promotion has enticed a customer to venture into the store, you want to continue the visual cues that will ultimately lead them to the intended destination (the location of the product).

This could include:

  • Vinyl clings on the door.
  • Floor signage.
  • Shelf talkers or danglers on the shelf, cooler or freezer.

Cross promotion4. Cross Promote Strategically

All too often promotions focus on increasing spend by increasing the quantity of an item. For example:

  • “Buy One Klondike Bar and get a second for half off”.

If you consider that the average weekday commuter vehicle contains less than 2 occupants, this offer may not appeal to a vast majority of consumers entering your forecourt because it is too much of the same thing.

If however, you were to think in terms of meals (usually comprised of a main course, a beverage and a desert), for example:

  • “Free Klondike bar with the purchase of any sandwich and beverage” – you will increase mass market appeal.

Blog Written By Chris Strong – Chris is retail marketing veteran having spent more than half his career creating effective retail marketing/merchandising programs for CPG’s, national retailers and service industry channels. He is currently VP, Sales & Marketing for Minus Forty Technologies.

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