Looma is changing the way you grocery shop. Their secret sauce? Video storytelling.
The North Carolina startup puts smart tablets in store aisles to give customers consumable and accessible point-of-decision videos about individual brands.
“Point-of-decision video is different to traditional advertising. Whether you’re purchasing online or in-store, you’re not in a traditional viewing mindset. You’re in a decision-making mindset. That requires a different approach,” said Chief Creative Officer Ned Brown. “In the physical grocery store, there’s noise, clutter, sometimes a toddler in your cart, and long aisles with options galore to navigate. Our video content is designed and optimized for these circumstances — cutting through the noise or annoyance of mainstream advertising with authentic stories or helpful information.”
In order to make all the in-store content happen, Looma has built a marketplace of independent filmmakers. Relay™, as it is called, puts authentic and human-centric content creation first, according to Brown.
“It has been five years in the making, and we now have an international network of artists specializing in food and beverage that have been trained to produce this specific type of content. When combined with our point-of-decision attribution and analysis, you get the best of creative art and the learning we have been uniquely positioned to make,” Brown added.
The Story Behind Looma
Brown described Looma as a “classic startup story” born out of the UNC Chapel Hill dorm room of founder and CEO Cole Johnson.
“A big fan of farmer’s markets and local commerce, Cole was struck by how meaningful those in-person conversations could be in terms of both forming an emotional connection with the vendor, and learning something interesting or educational about the produce, or meat, or fresh bread he was purchasing before consuming it,” Brown said. “Those conversations made it more likely for shoppers to return to a specific vendor, try a new product, or buy more — with the assurance it would be good. They also had a story to tell their loved ones about where their food came from.”
Looma core team currently consists of 40 people. While many live in North Carolina, two-thirds of the workforce remains remote.
The startup is backed by North Carolina-based firms Cofounders Capital and Carolina Angels Network.
What’s Next For The Retail Technology Startup
Moving into 2023, Brown said the startup is focused on flexing its growth muscle.
“We’ve also diversified our content offerings significantly, debuting new educational program and video types (recipes, pairings, general education, for example) to accommodate a wider range of brands, categories, and retailers. Beyond that, the goal is to continue to evolve our products, Loop™ and Relay™, while partnering with grocers to help evolve their retail media operations more holistically,” he added.
Shoppers can see Looma in action at the beer and wine departments of Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods Stores in North Carolina (Looma’s home state), and at Schnuck Markets in the Midwest and H-E-B in Texas. The startup has also started pilot projects with a growing list of regional and national grocers.
“If you spot a screen playing authentic content rather than off-putting ads, it’s probably us,” Brown added.