Thinking Ahead, Scoring Big–March Madness 2021 

With no games to cheer this year and parties put on hold, fans need to appear into the 2021 season to put on their team championships and plan their home tailgating parties. As a result of missing this year’s games, the 2021 season will be greeted with a far more enthused passion by dedicated fans, that are looking forward to being a part of all the madness once again. For brands and retailers, this presents a far greater opportunity to rally and score big in the parties. When these devoted fans welcome back the games, why not meet them with open arms and fresh experiences at point of sale?

We all understand that for the fans who follow and cheer college basketball, it’s a lot more than another channel of competitive sports, such as football‘s Super Bowl or baseball’s World Series. College basketball, particularly March Madness, suggests a time once the hometown loyalty of adoring fans are in an all-time large. This year is a protracted period when team spirit is pumped and local cities proudly fly their colors where families celebrate on the sidelines, in their living rooms, backyards or where there might be a widescreen TV.

As in the Super Bowl, home parties for March Madness have a propensity to build over the 21-day championship, and for many this means a regular program of game-watching parties, often with foods, snacks and plenty of drinks. It’s a CPG holiday for certain, and merchants are smart to tap into this passion as a means to drive incremental sales and client engagement as the games ramp into the Final Four.

In 2019, we investigated how CPG companies were turning point-of-purchase screens aimed to lure the March Madness audience into retail theater by enticing shoppers not to only look at–but actively participate with–those displays.

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We wrote:”The next driver of retail theater is technology.” At the time we were directing this comment towards what we believed were improvements in engineering and cost-efficient materials (such as corrugate) for these in-store POP displays; today, that statement has a somewhat different meaning.

Nowadays,”technology” doesn’t only include materials used in production of screens; it also has technology designed to a display, turning a physical encounter with POP into a virtual one. It allows for an interactive and robust connection with the consumer at many levels, and could be targeted at specific audiences and particular interests.

March Madness fans are a very enthusiastic and faithful audience. Their connections to their teams and to the set of games hold steady with focus ramping up as those games tick off towards the Final Four. For retailers and brands, this prolonged interest could offer a whole slew of opportunities to intentionally guide the consumer to get their brand through diverse means, channels and campaigns.

Some have approached this annual sporting event by deploying many different initiatives both in store and online. Within the past couple of decades, some retailers have embraced technologies such as geofencing, Augmented Reality and in-store beacons for in-store promotions. While these approaches have some substantial pluses, one particular challenge is convincing the consumer to opt in for the experience by way of a shop app or social networking platform.

Recently, however, brands such as Nike have found that the diverse and readily accessible features of Quick Response codes (QR), which need no special apps or platforms for use, just web access via your smartphone. And when contemplating the advantages of scaling an approach that can keep pace in real time with client care, using a QR approach in point-of-sale display could be something to explore.

Having a QR approach for internet affiliate marketing, most notably Dynamic QR, can deliver to the March Madness audience more discerning, timely and personalized experiences for your shoppers. Greater live time and driving purchases through coupon offerings are only two of the various benefits. Actually, according to Beaconstac.com, 5.3 billion QR vouchers will be redeemed via mobile devices by 2022. When March Madness shoppers are faced with staging parties about 21 days of games, you can assume that voucher offerings will be on top of their incentive”want” list.

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However, There’s so much more to be considered:

Imagine the ability of a brand to instantly pivot towards another incentive or experience that contrasts in real time with what is happening on the court. Imagine using POP to combine the brand and the game with the consumer, not just regionally or by store, but literally by the day or even the hour. Truly, it’s a paradigm-shifting moment around the advertising value of a point-of-sale display when it is re-imagined as a direct-to-consumer portal.

If done well, an interactive approach using point-of-purchase display also has the ability to appeal to March Madness fans of all ages. The ideas and the opportunities are infinite. To assist prime that creative pump and get you thinking, we’ve recorded our three best hints for using QR codes on in-store displays to create experiences which might resonate with these basketball fans–ideas that could effectively and quickly turn your point-of-purchase displays into multidimensional winners into your brand and to your organization.

  1. Trivia Challenge (Kind of like Jeopardy for March Madness.)

Appealing to older teens and adults, the”Trivia Challenge” would last during March Madness and tackle issues like group stats, player bios or game background. As games advancement, the trivia challenge would narrow to those groups remaining in the bracket. Post playoffs, the top 5 Trivia Quiz winners will be selected and rewarded based on number of correct answers. Coupons, promotional offers or select prizes could be given to the winners.

  • Partnerships /Spotify (Support your team and enjoy their songs.)
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Partnerships with other brands or client businesses expand the audience reach. This approach might partner with Spotify streaming sound. Using a QR code to begin, shoppers would be able to pull up a virtual”area” of players and select their preferred player featured in the current bracket. Selecting a player enables the shopper access to curated information relating to this player, including the player’s own compiled Spotify list, available for downloading. Coupons, promotional offers and gift-with-purchase alternatives could be tied-in and made available through download.

  • Basketball Slam-Dunk Competition (This is where your client becomes the star.)

In-store or on-product QR codes encourage contestants to upload videos of their mad basketball skills to a new website/landing page. Open for the duration of the tournament, videos could be judged by some chosen NBA star players by popular vote. The winner is flown in the last match and given the chance to have a courtside seat for the match

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