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You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink! Or can you?  Now I’m not insinuating that humans are like horses, but retail marketing is a bit like the wild west.  For example, I go online to shop, look at where to eat, maybe I want to go to the cinema, but I’m immediately chased around and held hostage by ads for products I may have just browsed the week before and then the perfect shot – a 20% discount if I buy it now.

But does it make me purchase?  More often than not, I’m afraid the answer is 'no'.  I buy what I want when I want it and the ads just act as a noisy irritant. That's not to say brands shouldn’t invest in digital marketing and that no-one takes any notice, nor that online shopping isn’t convenient – I bloody love it – but it’s not the only way for brands to succeed at selling. 

Funnily enough some brands still really need the brick and mortar retail environment to thrive as their products need a more personal sell  – and for me it’s these retail staff that are the perfect people to make the horse drink!

The Challenge

Let’s look at Yamaha.  Most people think of motorbikes or pianos when they think of Yamaha but there’s a whole lot more to the Yamaha Music product portfolio.  Its audio visual (AV) division was infact the inventor of the sound bar but not many people know that. Yamaha had an ambition - to establish itself as a leading player in sound bar and wireless speakers.  They knew that to do this they needed to secure a listing in the largest electrical retailer in the UK – Curry’s, PC World and, most importantly, in the stores as they felt they’d be more successful if they had the opportunity to present the products to consumers face to face.

Securing the listing was just the start as Yamaha now had to drive sufficient sell-through to demonstrate to Curry’s buyers that they were a brand worth continuing to do business with.  But how does a brand like Yamaha tell a product story in a crowded market place where there’s a lack of brand awareness for its AV products and a retail environment where brands like Sonos, Samsung and Bose are leading the category and spending big budgets on retail support.

The solution

Yamaha had to work from the ground up to establish themselves in UK retail.  There was no big budget ATL support for the products but, instead, they invested in a smart (maybe not sexy) instore retail marketing strategy to maximise sales on the shop floor across the core performing Curry’s stores.

Yamaha focused on a simple ambition - understand the category, retailer and what consumers want from the product and motivate the team selling the products.  They did this using three strategic elements:

  • Merchandising compliance – enhancing the brand relationship with store staff, ensuring display units were correctly merchandised and working and driving product knowledge excellence through staff training;
  • Promoter – increasing the number of product demonstrations via in-store brand ambassadors driving direct to consumer sales;
  • Communication – motivating the field team by creating a collaborative culture with a monthly newsletter celebrating success and other incentives.
In-store promotions for Yamaha
In-store promotions for Yamaha


A 100% uplift in product knowledge of sales staff trained, a return of 3.5 times investment and most importantly the continued listing in Curry’s PC World.

The moral of the story – by understanding the USPs of brick & mortar retail it’s still possible for a brand to successfully establish itself in a new category against the global giants.  So, don’t write off the high street: make it work for your brand and customers.