Future Shop plays on emotions

The marketing minds at Future Shop believe a new electronic toy can evoke an emotional response.

The marketing minds at Future Shop believe a new electronic toy can evoke an emotional response.

With that in mind, the Burnaby, B.C.-based retailer has switched its advertising message from price to personality in its new TV campaign, which is set to flood the airwaves on August 6. ‘What we’re trying to do is create more of an emotional bond,’ says Jeff Schulz, VP, marketing and business development, who admits the imminent arrival of U.S. behemoth Best Buy was an impetus for change.

‘But it was also part of an evolution,’ he points out. ‘We started to look at a new campaign three-and-a-half-years ago, after our customer research told us we needed to create more of an experience.’ While the chain was recognized and highly regarded for its low prices and brand selection, he says, it didn’t score as high on service. Hence, both the TV and in-store strategies were developed to change that perception.

The five 30-second spots, created by Toronto-based agency Doner Canada, will freeze on a particular ‘moment’ that captures a character’s spirited reaction to a new Future Shop product. In the debut back-to-school commercial, called ‘College,’ a mother, father and son are loading their vehicle, while a Future Shop deliveryman helps out. It then cuts to a dorm room, where the same items are carried in: a TV, computer, sound system and microwave. After a tearful goodbye with the folks, the elated student takes a flying leap, with an ‘I’m free!’ expression on his face. That’s when the image freezes, exposing his true emotion: unadulterated happiness.

In ‘Wrapping Paper,’ a young boy obsesses over a video game highlighted in a Future Shop flyer. He ignores everything else, including a naughty puppy, and even takes the mailing into the bathtub with him. Meanwhile, his mom orders the precious game online and it is later delivered to their home. The big moment comes when the boy unwraps his present.

Since Future Shop caters to so many different market segments, the commercials star characters of varying demographics, from a child to a married couple and twentysomethings. There is also a ‘layering message,’ says Schulz, which intends to educate consumers about the different ways they can shop, and inform them about other services like home delivery and computer installation.

But a significant aspect of the overall strategy also includes modifications at the store level. For instance, the chain recently boosted its sales-training efforts and enhanced its P-O-P to help customers find their way around more easily. ‘We’re redesigning [stores] to improve sight lines,’ explains Schulz. ‘It’s much more self-serve and the signage is cleaner. We are merchandising displays more openly, too, because people like to pick up product.’ About 18 months ago, Future Shop introduced Fast Facts, where customers can read details on the various products. This information is also incorporated on the Web site and in the flyer, which has been redesigned to be more dynamic and colourful, with a ‘cleaner look that is consistent with the TV campaign,’ according to Schulz.

But Future Shop hasn’t dropped its traditional strategy completely. Its radio spots will continue to push sales events, and the company’s tagline, ‘You’ll like what the future has in store,’ will survive the changes.