The Importance Of Pre-Tail In The Shopping Journey

Pre-tail seems to be one of the new buzzwords thrown around the CPG category. But what does it really mean, and should we be taking it seriously?

Pre-tail refers to the entire journey of the shopper before they reach the point of purchase. Product research, browsing social channels, building shopping lists, and organizing coupons and rewards all fall into the pre-tail category.

Various often-quoted studies by Point-of-Purchase Advertising International and The Marketing Science Institute have said that between 60 and 70% of purchase decisions are made at retail. Regardless of the exact number, that means at least 30 to 40% of consumers have made their decisions before they ever walk into a store, which is hardly insignificant. 

One would have a hard time arguing that the 30-40% number has not grown with more digital resources and connectivity than ever before. It is clear that to reach today’s shopper, CPGs must connect with consumers in a meaningful way before they walk into a brick and mortar. 



What are the best ways to get on the shopping list before consumers shop?

Show value by providing a utility

Shoppers are exposed to thousands of brand messages a day and, according to Media Dynamics, take note of about 150. Instead of yelling at your target shopper with an intrusive message, offer advice or tools to make their routine easier. These might include recipes, beauty tips, life hacks, or complete occasion-specific shopping lists, depending on your category. Give them a reason to interact with your brand early and often, so you’re top of mind while they’re preparing and when they are ready to purchase.

Go where they are already shopping

Invest in relevant content destinations, commerce-focused social channels, and blogging environments focused on digital shopping. According to eMarketer, 93% of Pinterest visitors are seeking ideas for what to buy. Tip: Think of Pinterest as a more organized and curated Google with a focus on saving content for later. 

Offer incentives for trial and loyalty

Focus on driving trial from new households with light offers and rewards to entice purchase. Instead of pushing out the same paper and digital coupons to the same audiences, try some variation. Use A/B testing to measure and optimize what is working best for you. Mix in a solid rotation of receipt verification, retailer loyalty programs and rebates. 

Create pre-launch buzz

If you’re introducing a new product, take steps to build excitement and anticipation before it’s available for sale. Create engaging content offering a sneak peak of the product, invite customers to sign up to get the product early or receive special offers. Implement influencer marketing by getting the product into the hands of trusted, third party sources to test and review the product, sharing their thoughts and recommendations with your target audience. 

To return to our original question, yes, pre-tail should be taken seriously, and it’s worth putting real strategy and budget behind. Not only do the tactics above help sell your product once, they build brand equity and loyalty, bringing customers back for repeat purchases in the future.

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