Vicki Folly of Blackjack Promotions looks at the power of cross-brand retail promotions and shares tips on how to create the greatest impact.

The brands went in two by two… hurrah! hurrah!


Vicki Folly of Blackjack Promotions looks at the power of cross-brand retail promotions and shares tips on how to create the greatest impact.

From Laurel and Hardy to Batman and Robin, Lennon and McCartney to Wallace and Gromit; sometimes, two heads are just better than one. We’ve grown up in an era where collaboration has made for some of the world’s greatest art, whether it’s film, music or TV.

If you transfer that knowledge into a retail environment, strategic brand partnerships can be a highly effective way to create stand out and achieve key business and sales goals for both parties involved.

The power of co-branding allows you to combine the best elements that two brands have to offer and presents a unique opportunity to expand customer bases. There’s also the obvious cost-saving advantage.

The most successful cross-brand promotions must present clear synergies, be relevant and complementary. Brands that share the same potential audience or audience mindset can work really well together.

Take Coca-Cola and O·P·I teaming up to create a line of nail lacquers inspired by a range of Coca-Cola’s most popular drinks (Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Fanta etc). The overarching idea linked to both brands ‘delivering happiness in a bottle’. Both have a core teen target audience so working together gave them a fresh and exciting way to engage with this demographic. A definite win-win for both.

With any cross-brand promotional activity, the trick is to offer a unique experience to customers, something they wouldn’t ordinarily be accustomed to. In a retail environment, supporting the activity with large visual POS materials and in-store merchandising can be an eye-catching way to draw people in with compelling promotional offers.

Mondelēz is a great example of a confectionery brand leading the charge in this area, most recently bringing together two of its most powerful brands – Cadbury Dairy Milk and Daim pieces – following the success of its Milka Oreo bars. Why did it work so well? Existing awareness of both individual brands enhanced the likelihood of trial while combining the two flavours offered consumers the chance to experience something new and exciting.

A cross-category, cross-brand promotion between Stolichnaya Premium Vodka and Swiss chocolatier Favarger at Zurich Airport saw travellers presented with an opportunity to sample a combination of fresh raspberries dipped in Favarger Fondue, complemented with a shot of Stoli Chocolat Razberi. POS materials included red and white pop up stands and large visuals to draw passengers in.

At Heathrow, Blackjack has worked with a number of brands in a range of categories that naturally complement each other. Take whisky and chocolate, for example – the pairing is such a natural fit that it goes down a treat with travellers.

For me, airport retail is one of the most untapped areas for cross-brand promotions; but I would argue that it has the greatest potential.

It’s an environment where customers are in a relaxed frame of mind and therefore are more receptive and open to brand interaction. The right kind of activity helps travellers pass the time as they wait for their flight, gives them the chance to try products before they buy, and drives them in-store to make a purchase. Create a good experience, and the chances are travellers will spread the word to families, friends and business contacts.

However, brands should also be wary of getting “too close for comfort” with direct competition. Take Burger King’s suggestion to McDonald’s on the International Day of Peace that the rival brands work together and combine their signature sandwiches to create the McWhopper burger – for one day only.

McDonald’s rejected Burger King’s advances and that’s understandable. While it was a nice idea and in sync with the idea of the International Day of Peace, perhaps it was a little bit too close to home and could risk losing customers to the competition in the long run.

So it’s best to choose a partner that complements your brand, rather than competing with it. But, then again, at the other end of the spectrum there’s always the fear that brands can be so far opposite from each other that it can lead to consumer confusion if the synergies aren’t present.

The key thing to remember is that one size does not fit all when it comes to cross-promotions. Communication and early planning is essential. Brands that can work together to bring new insight and loyalty are those that will reap the greatest benefits of cross-promotion.

Never underestimate the power of a cross-brand promotion; but be wary of the negative impact it can have if not done properly. When two brands come together, they can be stronger – but it only works if they complement each other.

Getting two brands to work together in harmony might sound simple in theory but it’s often easier said than done. Find the right fit, however, and you could be onto a winner.

Vicki Folly is Account Manager – Liquor and Confectionery at Blackjack Promotions, which provides specialist customer-facing sales teams and brand ambassadors across a number of travel retail categories, including beauty, liquor, luxury and confectionary. It has operations at 16 UK airports, on cross Channel and at three airports in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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