Tracking Competitor Promotions With Mobile Technology

By Brian Harris


What promotions are your competitors running right now?

If you don’t readily know the answer to that question, you may not be utilizing mobile technology. Or, at the very least, you might not be leveraging it correctly.

When I say “mobile technology,” I’m not just talking about checking your inbox for your competitors’ Google alerts and promotional flyer. Of course, it’s important to receive these notifications as well, but whatever happened to pre-emption? Where’s the competitive spirit?

“Retail is war!” Don’t just take it from me. Take it from convenience store retailing consultant and author, Bill Scott. In a recently published article, Scott distinguishes between short-term and long-term gains in marketing strategies.

“Limited assaults,” he says, may include planned sales and promotional campaigns like lowering gas prices. However, permanent gains can’t be made without gathering superior intelligence. Retailers must ask themselves, “What will cause a shopper to come to my store, rather than to my competitor?”

In Scott’s experience, many retailers avoid answering this question. It’s just too easy to accept the status quo. He urges his customers to break the mold and try something completely different. He encourages them to explore new possibilities and write them down, no matter how zany the marketing strategy might be.

Think about how Taco Bell came up with the Doritos Locos Tacos concept. It’s been their most successful product launch in the brand’s history. The concept was a flash of genius, but initial consumer taste tests flopped. Rather than give up, Taco Bell completely overhauled its taco shell engineering system and experimented with 40 recipes over the course of two years.

Now that’s dedication!  

Don’t Wage War with Mobile Technology. Embrace It!

The “superior intelligence” Scott writes about is gained only when competitive insights are documented and shared.

For instance, Taco Bell knew it had a great idea and something completely different. However, the company needed to exercise due diligence and collect information out in the field.

Similarly, retailers must collect information from competitors’ stores regarding promotions. Using mobile technology, retailers can easily establish a secret shopper program. They don’t need to hire a private firm to do this. They can simply ask their own employees to visit competitors’ stores and record their insights.

A typical checklist might include:

  • Price of products
  • Variety of products
  • Quantity of products
  • Notes on promotions
  • Notes on category placement
  • Photos of promotions

Collecting mystery shopper data is certainly helpful, but it’s still not enough. Insights are all about action. You may come to the realization that you need to price a product more competitively or offer more variety. Perhaps you may experience a flash of genius for creating your own proprietary product after seeing a similar product in your competitor’s store. Using mobile technology, document ideas and share relevant data.

Actionable insights fall under the umbrella of superior intelligence. They are not attainable just in your own weekly sales report. The great news is that the technology you need to gather actionable insights is right in your pocket.

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