In-store QR videos need to go way beyond ads

It seems a shame to waste the ability to show shoppers any imagery or video you want on commercials

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Chase Pay in use on a smartphone

Credit: JP Morgan Chase

Burberry last week said that it was the first brand to use Snapchat's QR Snapcode feature for in-store smartphone viewing. But as much as any innovation in-store is to be encouraged, it seems a shame to waste the ability to show shoppers any imagery or video you want on commercials. The buzzword "customer-centric" is popular these days, which leads one to ask: Is that what your customers would vote to watch? Will that make them want to try this again in a week?

What Burberry did was launch this campaign for a perfume called Mr. Burberry. OK, they dub it a men's fragrance, but it's a smelly liquid. "Content created for the Snapchat channel includes a director’s cut of the campaign’s ad, grooming and tailoring tips, and a behind the scenes video," noted The Drum. "It will be live for 24 hours in the app. Following this, consumers will be able to access the channel for two months when they scan the Snapcode."

To be fair, there's a limit on the variety of useful videos that can be created to sell cologne/after-shave/perfume or whatever else you want to call it. It all comes down to saying, "To us, it smells like a billion bucks. To you, battery acid, but we'll convince you that this is what important people smell like." Not much to work with there.

No matter how clever the grooming/tailoring tips are — and how fascinating the director's cut/behind-the-scenes video is — it's not going to sway me to buy this odored H20. It's really the aroma, which a video can't replicate, and the price. What a video can do for a perfume, as marketers know well, is to show the alleged response of romantic targets.

Many manufacturers don't even go that far. How about some useful videos that will actually make shoppers more likely to buy? I have often been in a do-it-yourself chain and wearily looked at a large box, guessing that the words "easily assembled in minutes" is stunningly not credible. But if I saw a two-minute video that showed me, in real time, how easy it really is, that would have encouraged me to buy a lot more often than I did. (Note: Forget the dissolves, which only signal, "Yeah, this will take a lot longer than it's worth.")

Another good choice: Demos that are useful and entertaining. What you're going for here is something that is far removed from what used to be called the UHF 2 a.m. commercial, a.k.a. the $9.99 special or the "and that's not all" offer. If there were an Academy Award for demonstration videos that truly sold products, it would have to go to the Will It Blend team, which was a crew from Blendtec blenders that showed how powerful their blenders were by blending iPhones, Krazy Glue, watches, golf balls and other things that geek love to watch being blended.

Another good YouTube video series would be "Will It Nuke?" We just need to find a microwave oven manufacturer to sponsor it. To be serious, that wouldn't work as well, but I'd still watch.

For some products, videos of how the product was manufactured also work well, assuming it appears to show care in assembly and top-quality components. Or compelling movies answering questions about its use. The key question to ask: Would consumers really want to watch this? And will this make them click again next week to watch more? Want an example? Look at your favorite Super Bowl commercials. Those are ads that shoppers watch, love and share with friends. It is indeed possible.

Another possibility: A code that connects to a live-streaming session with a customer service rep who can truly answer almost any question.

Getting a shopper to use a smartphone to scan a code on your product is easy. Coming up with something that will make them more likely to buy and to click again on another of your products in three days? That's much more useful — and harder.

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