Today’s marketing environment is all about innovations in technology. From BeeBots to virtual and augmented reality, the fresh produce industry continues to be infatuated with the latest in shiny new tech. Don’t get us wrong, it’s important to be open to what’s now and what’s new, but in the process of following the latest technology innovations, it’s also important to stay grounded in what matters.
For example, are virtual reality headsets blinding you from the opportunities directly in your path?
A great example we’ve seen of technology distracting marketers from focusing on things that could make their efforts more strategic has been evident across tradeshow floors in the last two years. The idea of virtual reality continues to excite and awe this industry, and rightfully so – the technology enables growers and companies to showcase their brands like never before. Companies like Walmart have even invested in the technology, hoping to increase the quality of training that employees receive in their 200 training facilities.
We understand, it’s tempting to compete with these foot traffic-heavy booths and bring virtual reality to your next tradeshow. But before you start feeling booth envy, take a step back and analyze your tradeshow strategy as a whole. Do you have a clear call to action for your booth visitors, and if so, will virtual reality help them to complete the action? Have you built an expectation of your brand and booth experience in the trade press leading up to the show through advertising and editorial features? These foundations are essential to a successful tradeshow, so before you seek out what’s next in tradeshow marketing, be sure you’re up to par with what’s strategically needed.
How much have you invested in your other digital assets?
Before you invest in AI and VR, take a technology gut-check to ensure your basic digital assets are up to date. If your website is more than 5 years old, it’s time for an update. A website is often the first communication touchpoint for trade and consumer audiences alike, and an outdated website will put your brand at risk of losing the interest of those audiences. Consider incorporating helpful technology to turn your website into a sales generation tool, like personalization or investing in software to help you see who is visiting your website, before focusing heavily on things like VR.
We also recommend prioritizing an investment in video before investing in chat bots and VR – it’s an investment that will influence every aspect of your marketing mix, from your social media channels to your tradeshow presence. By 2019, video will account for 80% of global internet traffic, so if you haven’t yet developed high quality video assets, you may not yet be ready for newer technology innovations.
Think long-term about how technology will affect consumer behaviors
In addition to prioritizing your digital assets, it’s also wise to think about how technology at the retail-level could affect your current marketing activities and assets. For example, late last year, Giant Foods piloted Marty, a robot that roves through the aisles searching for hazards and empty shelves that need to be restocked. Marty, accessorized with blue lights and googly eyes, proved helpful in providing a better experience for shoppers. But Marty also drew attention away from ordinary merchandising displays, meaning marketers have to work harder to stand out in the produce aisle through packaging.
Marty is just one of many innovations aimed at improving the shopper experience at the store level. Earlier this year, Kroger revealed plans for Kroger Edge, technology that displays pricing and nutritional info directly on the shelves. This technology lights up as shoppers pass by the items they’ve added to their shopping lists. With so many attention-grabbing technologies in stores, it’s more important than ever to establish brand preference with stronger packaging featuring clear calls-to-action to engage consumers on a deeper level.
Then there are the consumers that are going to stop shopping at brick-and-mortar stores all together. Think about how innovations in eCommerce, including voice shopping from Google and Amazon, could make a focus on digital marketing assets a necessity. Google Home and Amazon Alexa continue to be top-selling tech gifts, and more and more consumers are looking to ease the shopping experience by ordering online through these voice-controlled speakers. With this in mind, a strong digital presence, including an active social media community, becomes a much bigger priority to connect with consumers than relying on great packaging alone.
Technology innovations bring positive change to this industry every day. New, problem-solving technology is a good thing, and it’s important to welcome improvements as they present themselves. Just remember to think long-term about what you need to have in place NOW to make more practical applications of new technologies in the future. Stay focused on innovations that make the most sense for your marketing and sales goals, and don’t leap over your brand’s basic needs in the present to reach blue sky technology before you’re ready.