Checkers primes shoppers

By Carolyn White, Shopper Foundry Founding Business Partner. Checkers capitalises on the massive demand for the Prime soft drink launched by global influencers, creating key shopper marketing gems.

By Carolyn White, Shopper Foundry Founding Business Partner. I must confess; I was one of those shopper moms eagerly awaiting the 1 May launch date for Prime hydration energy drinks in Checkers stores. Part of my curiosity and hype was mostly driven by my 11-year-old son, who had not stopped reminding me of the early morning venturing out we needed to do to make sure we could get our ‘stash’ of the drink. And no, we couldn’t wait after 1 May – we needed to get there on launch day.

Carolyn White
So, what’s the hype?

Reading up on the background of the drink’s global launch success, the story is pretty simple and clever on influencer marketing hype 101. YouTubers Logan Paul and KSI released their drinks brand, Prime Hydration, in June 2022. One year on, Paul said the drink had generated US$250 million (£209 million) in retail sales worldwide, with US$45 million of that in June 2023 alone.

“We created Prime to showcase what happens when rivals come together as brothers and business partners to fill the void where great taste meets function.” It’s a classic storyline. Foes becoming friends for a common purpose. And the best part: joining forces means they both get to bring their massive fan bases into the fold.

Fast forward to Prime now on South African soil – with Checkers getting Prime to SA exclusively, the retailer has leveraged seven brilliant shopper marketing principles that were evident from pre-launch, to launch of the products and flavours.

1. Creating hype on demand: Multiple press releases went live one week before the product was to hit shelves at Checkers stores, driving interest and attention from consumers and shoppers alike. What flavours, what price, what availability, how many can I buy – already, the pre-seeding drive was covered with flash news reports across multiple social media and above-the-line channels.

2. Accelerating the planning: Naturally, the question on everyone’s mind was, once these products hit shelves, how am I going to get them without the schlep? (Online/in-store? Both?). Queues, stores, orders, flavours? Planning which stores to frequent is crucial to demand and shopper foot traffic to the store.

3. Authentic content is driven by a niche: Establishing audience engagement is key for YouTubers to become popular and develop popular commercial products, such as Prime. To engage their audiences, YouTubers use a variety of strategies. Two of the most significant strategies are ‘interaction’ and ‘self-disclosure’. Following the same principle as the founders, key local influencer marketing strategies were deployed to enable even further authenticity of the product hype to Checkers stores and further the appeal to getting your hands on these drinks early.

4. Build in limited purchasing but drive volume at the same time: Naturally, limiting purchase quantities enables less stockpiling from avid shoppers and creates more fairness in per-customer transactions. But there is also a clever opportunity with shoppers that perhaps only intended to buy one or two drinks. Knowing that you can buy eight on one trip to the store creates a sense of ‘I need to buy eight’ and thus drives the volume of purchases per customer trip to the store.

5. Multiple points of store interruptions: Visiting two Checkers stores close to home, I was really impressed at the level of in-store communications – Impulse PRIME FSU’s, branded destination blitz zones, gondola ends, and entrance signage advertising the offers. It wasn’t just located in fridges; it was everywhere in stores. Side advantage – the buzzing shopper masses immediately signalled the right area to find the drinks.

6. Multiple yet targeted audience targeting: been convinced ahead of purchase (tweens, pre-tweens), but also has a halo audience of recruits (moms and dads) and some curious by-standers who will try the product just because of the hype.

7. Retailer differentiation: An exclusive partnership with the brand allows Checkers more retailer salience to stand out in being culturally on-trend, innovative in driving demand creation, and incredibly customer-centric in bringing out what consumers really want.

Key learnings
  • Hopping on consumer trends is everything to creating shopper demand.
  • Creating hype can build a powerful pre-store intention strategy.
  • Leveraging omnichannel and multiple sources of channel mixes is key for audience awareness, engagement and ultimate conversion.
  • Simplicity in message delivery – don’t overcomplicate – sell the hype as it is.
  • High visibility in multiple relevant locations in the store is key.
  • Building purchase qualifiers can work to your advantage (volume with limits).
  • Post-purchase testimonials can reinforce shopper loyalty beyond the singular moment at the shelf and drives more authenticity than from the retailer’s voice alone.
  • Having some unexpected fun in retail is critical – you can’t bore people into buying.
  • But, like anything in life that becomes now easily attainable, will the hype remain?

Leaving Checkers with our ‘eight-purchase limited by customer bottles’, my son remarks, “Mom, you know what? I’m not sure this is so special anymore; it was too easy to get and is now not as expensive as at the limited edition store. It doesn’t have the same feeling for me now, but it was cool to get them today.”

And just like that, I realised just how the nature of hype marketing efforts works – the right targeted insights applied at the right moment in time and then capitalised at the moment to purchase and consume. Time will tell whether this becomes another hyped hydration drink on the shelf or whether the original ‘content creator coolness’ remains the reason to keep buying it.


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