The high street evolution: Why online retailers need a voice

12 Nov 2019 •
By Clear Channel UK View Author on Twitter

It’s no secret - the past few years have seen a barrage of news stories detailing the decline of the high street, often positioning the enemy as ‘online’. However, when you delve deeper into the data, the consumer shift is far from simple. Whilst there’s no denying that online retail spend is on the rise, it actually only equates to around 20% of total UK retail spend. In fact, a recent study from CACI, found that 90% of all retail spend is actually influenced by physical stores.

The high street isn’t dying – it’s evolving; traditional retailers are reminded of the media value of their physical estate, having previously been measuring success solely on sales per square foot.

Brands are discovering that the high street has become an amazing marketing hub and is also actually helping to power online spend. This is a trick ‘pure-play online’ advertisers, those without retail real estate, could be missing.

Consider an average high street store that sees 250,000 people come through its doors each year, each spending an average of 15 minutes in-store. Imagine what you would need to spend on media to get that level of engagement. In addition, with the accompanying shop window acting as a giant billboard for the millions walking past each year, it’s no wonder that a brand’s online sales have been proven to be more than double within the catchment area of their physical store.

It’s clear that, in the same way traditional high street retailers have embraced digital, purely ‘online’ brands must now also compete in this space, to capture share of mind and spend of wallet from the high street veterans.

This is where Out of Home (OOH) plays its part.

OOH boosts a brand’s physical presence and share-of-voice on the high street; proven to help shift consumer perceptions, as well as positively impact the effectiveness of other channels, particularly online search (by more than +50%). Being physically present in specific places and in specific moments leads to increased consideration; ultimately making performance activity more efficient and reducing the reliance of renting customers from Google.

Digital Out Of Home has also evolved - now reaching 67% of the UK. Its flexibility allows advertisers to be smarter and more reactive to customer intent, in order to drive sales. Take, for example, a particular summer dress that’s trending in Manchester, and it’s also pay day; brands can react to a moment like that with the right message, in the right place, at exactly the right time. The OOH equivalent of showcasing it in the shop window. Or if the next day it’s raining, or that product is out of stock, the ad message can switch in real-time, staying relevant as well as on-brand. 

It’s also Out of Home’s affinity with mobile which advertisers can now really take advantage of. We’ve already exceeded the tipping point in which mobile is the primary device for online retail, so using the two screens together (look up – look down) can provide even greater impact. 

With consumers only ever a few clicks away from pocket to purchase, OOH can become a powerful trigger to drive action, whether that’s on the high street or re-targeting at relevant moments. It’s not just us saying it - recent research from Facebook themselves showed OOH as the most complimentary channel to social, increasing purchase intent by a massive 47%.

With the evolution of the high street comes the evolution of how brands – both traditional and purely online – target the next generation of shoppers. OOH is proven to boost that high street presence, tapping into new marketing opportunities, as well as utilising digital to provide greater flexibility and compliment other channels.

The high street isn’t dying – it’s evolving. And Out of Home is part of its retail future.

Find out more about how online brands are using Out of Home as the channel for their voice on the hight street.

Opinion piece by Colin Horan, Client Partner - Retail