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Sunkist exec: Mobile drives impulse sales in-store

NEW YORK - A Sunkist executive at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2011 conference said consumer loyalty and engagement via mobile is key for driving impulse sales in-store.

During the opening keynote "Sunkist: How a leading supplier of fresh fruit drives consumption adoption of mobile will forever change the retail lanscape," the executive discussed how the company is using mobile to help educate consumers about the many uses of citrus fruit. This includes education, usage tips and nutrition information to drive awareness of the multiple varieties of citrus.

The conference was organized by Mobile Commerce Daily.

?We are trying to teach people to let them know that there are a ton of uses for lemons,? said Julie DeWolf, director of retail marketing of Sunkist, Los Angeles. 

?We provide consumers with ideas like how to make a nice bouquet using lemons or how to make our sink smell better to try to create more of an impulse situation in stores, which is difficult,? she said. 

Sunkist has been involved in traditional marketing for some time, using in-store signage and promotions.

Mobile consumers treated differently
Initially, consumers used mobile devices primarily to talk, but statistics show that of the 223 million mobile devices out there today, the primary use is not talking.

Marketing on mobile has evolved with the rapid consumer consumption of smartphones.

According to Ms. DeWolf, more than 100 smartphones were sold in the fourth quarter of 2010 and mobile device sales are beginning to overtake PC sales.

?Mobile phones do everything you need them to do,? Ms. DeWolf said. ?We would be lost without them.?

Sunkist?s goals in mobile is to build loyalty to the Sunkist brand, driving engagement via SMS alerts and mobile Web sites, and building awareness for the brand and citrus fruit.

The company's efforts in mobile include building mobile-optimized Web sites to make it easier for people on the go to access information.

?We are looking to treat mobile consumers differently than normal consumers,? Ms. DeWolf said.

Where mobile is headed
The company already has five mobile Web sites and is working on building more.

Each is dedicated to a specific citrus variety and providing information about the variety, nutritional information, recipes and other usage tips.

?Mobile-optimized Web sites have made a big difference for us,? Ms. DeWolf said. ?They have lead to a lot more traffic from mobile.?

?This is where we are doing the best job to give people information when they need it,? she said.

Sunkist is also making mobile a big part of its in-store activities.

The company?s first venture into this area was last year with an in-store unit for lemons that prominently featured a call-to-action for consumers to test ?lemons? to a short code to receive recipes and tips.

Going forward, Sunkist will make such units a big focus of its mobile efforts.

?This enables consumers to get more information without retailer intervention,? Ms. DeWolf said. ?The simpler we can make it, the better for everybody.?

Additionally, the company runs mobile promotions using SMS and has an application.

Sunkist has not into mobile bar codes or mobile couponing yet.

?QR codes are a bit complicated for a lot of people,? Ms. DeWolf said. ?Now that smartphone adoption is catching up, we?ll look at barc odes.?

The challenge with couponing is that retail systems are out of date, making mobile couponing difficult.

Commerce is also another area where the company is holding back in mobile.

Part of the problem is that no one has created a mobile shopping experience that would work for citrus.

?Citrus is a tactile experience more than buying a TV,? Ms. DeWolf said. ?When you?re buying oranges, there is definitely an interactive experience and until someone can figure out how to do it correctly, we?re not going to be there.?

Going forward, Sunkist is interested in where the industry is going with geo-location targeting and mobile loyalty.

?Using coupons to get consumers to opt into a mobile database so you can provide them with savings and using geo-location to hit them with offers when in a store ? that?s going to get really exciting in the next couple of years,? Ms. DeWolf said.

?A mobile loyalty club is an interesting idea,? she said. ?It would be great to start building some loyalty and giving customers offers.?

Sunkist is also beginning to look at social media sites such as Foursquare to further get the word out about its brand.

?Social is much more of a grassroots marketing play because people have said they want to use this information and we?re excited to start using it,? Ms. DeWolf said.

Final Take