How To Develop a Product Placement Strategy

Updated June 24, 2022

In marketing, there are a lot of different strategies that can help sell products. Product placement is a marketing strategy that subtly advertises a product and can be very effective in increasing sales. If you work in marketing, product placement is a valuable marketing tool to understand and make use of. In this article, we discuss what product placement is and explain how to develop a product placement strategy.

Related: 11 Ideas for Product Promotion

What is product placement?

Product placement is a marketing strategy that involves showing a product in a piece of media in order to advertise it to consumers. Also referred to as embedded marketing, product placement can be one of the most subtle forms of marketing depending on how companies use it, because it involves simply showing or mentioning a product without making a sales pitch.

Product placement most commonly involves showing a product, logo or other element of a brand. The product may be a prop or an element of the background within a scene, and it may be shown briefly or for an extended time, depending on what the company and production studio agree on. Product placement relies on building familiarity and creating positive associations to sell products to viewers.

An example of product placement is having a can of soda sitting on a table while two characters talk. The audience sees the product in the background and can clearly recognize it, which is the purpose of product placement. If one of the characters takes a sip of the soda and gains superpowers from it, this becomes product integration. Rather than the product simply being seen in the shot, the product has now become an active part of the scene and plot.

Types of product placement

Companies can use product placement in different ways depending on the organization's goals and budget. Many people think of product placement as including products in movies, but there are actually three different types of product placement:


Films and television shows are one of the most popular ways to use product placement. Companies can collaborate with productions to have their product featured. This can involve just one shot with the product, or it can involve constant shots featuring the product throughout. The extent that a product features in the media usually correlates to the price the company pays. Depending on the specific marketing strategy, brands may choose to have their product placed more or less subtly in a movie or show.

Incorporating products in popular media is an effective marketing method that increases brand awareness. The effectiveness of product placement in media can depend on how the movie or show performs. More popular shows and movies tend to be more beneficial for brands using product placement because more people have seen and enjoyed the program.

Social media

Social media has become a popular platform for product placement. Using social media for product placement is different from other media for a few reasons. Companies can work with social media influencers to implement product placement in their content. This can include having a product in a picture that they post or having them use the product in a video. Using social media product placement, companies can reach a variety of audiences through these influencers and the process is less complicated than with other media.

Social media also tends to be much less expensive than other media. Determining the payment can vary on the number of followers someone has, but working with an individual like this as opposed to a large movie studio cuts costs. You can also see results more quickly through social media product placement. When working to place a product in a movie, it may be months or years before the movie is released. Social media influencers can create and release content with your product within a few days.


You can also use product placement in physical retail spaces. This strategy is important when getting people to notice your product on the shelf and decide to purchase it. Popular locations in stores include placement near the registers in order to encourage last-minute purchases. Companies also consider the level at which stores place products on a shelf, because this can affect how likely people are to see them.

When developing a retail product placement strategy, companies determine what locations in a store will benefit their product the most and pay to have their products placed there. Companies can also pay to limit the shelf space that their competitors have in what is known as a slotting fee. This method makes people more likely to purchase their product rather than because of availability.

Benefits of using a product placement strategy

Product placement offers a lot of benefits that traditional marketing does not. The first benefit of using product placement is that you can access audiences that you may not be able to reach through traditional marketing. Product placement in media is located within content so audiences cannot avoid seeing the product. Traditional marketing using advertisements or commercials sometimes allows people to skip ahead or stop paying attention, but product placement in a movie has the benefit of the audience's full attention.

Another benefit of product placement is building brand familiarity. Product placement is much more subtle than traditional advertising, so it has the potential to make people familiar with the brand without blatant advertisement. Similar to how a person may develop familiarity with a product because their friend uses it, seeing characters in the media use products makes products more well-known without audiences associating them with advertisements. This relates to another benefit of product placement, which is that it can create a positive association with a product.

If viewers are forced to watch an advertisement, they may enjoy it or dislike it, but they will likely associate their knowledge of the product with that advertisement either way. When products are placed in movies, people will associate them with that movie. This builds positive perceptions of a product and encourages audiences to consider trying it. This is known as the halo effect, and it is a key component of media product placement.

Related: The Marketing Mix: The Art of Using the 4 Ps of Marketing

How to develop a product placement strategy

Product placement requires careful thought and consideration to be successful. Follow these steps to develop a product placement strategy:

1. Research your audience

Knowing who your target audience is can help you determine where to place your product. If you want to use retail product placement to market candy, your target audience is most likely children. Putting the product on the lower shelf of an aisle could help kids see the product. In media product placement, you can research what types of movies and shows your target audience watches in order to decide who to work with when implementing product placement.

Related: How To Conduct Market Research

2. Determine your budget

If you have a high budget, you may consider partnering with a large production studio or paying a store to feature your product in prime locations. If you are looking to spend less, consider working with a smaller studio or a social media influencer.

Determining a budget can also help you create realistic goals. If you are spending less money on product placement, your product may reach a smaller audience. This can still be a successful use of product placement as long as you earn more money than you spend on the product placement.

Read more: How To Design a Marketing Budget

3. Cold call

If you have an idea of what type of product placement you want to use and who your audience is, you can make some phone calls to discover what product placement opportunities are available. This can be a good way to learn more about your options and compare prices for the different opportunities.

4. Use social media

After researching who your target audience is, consider researching social media influencers. Discover which influencers have a large following that closely matches your target audience. Creating product placement strategies with these influencers can expose their audience to your product, and it may also create a positive association with the product because they like the influencer.

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