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Following name change, Path to Purchase Institute expands its digital offerings

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At the Path to Purchase Institute's annual Shopper Marketing Expo in October, the institute rolled out its Online Advertising Survey and Insight Service. Oasis allows subscribers to monitor and analyze digital advertising of such retailers as CVS, Kroger Co. and Wal-Mart Stores. Oasis is one of a series of new marketing vehicles at the institute, a for-profit association that serves retailers, marketers, agencies and point-of-purchase vendors. In September, the association—which publishes Shopper Marketing, a monthly magazine targeting the retail marketing sector—officially changed its name to the Path to Purchase Institute. The group's latest incarnation underscores the broadening of the organization's member base beyond its original, point-of-purchase focus to include search, social, mobile, direct, events, couponing and other marketing-related companies. “It pushes us into a much broader marketing arena, without diminishing our focus on sales that take place within bricks and mortar,” said Peter Hoyt, executive director-CEO of the organization. He said that the changes are also designed to better serve the entire “ecosystem” of in-store marketing, including digital touch points at Facebook and Google, direct marketing and traditional media brands that are now following budget dollars as they migrate into shopper marketing. “You make the decision to buy in-store, but there are a lot of influences along the way on the path to purchase, and many of them now are digital,” he added. “And in order for us to be relevant to our audience, which is looking at things with a wider lens, we felt we needed to change the name.” “[Hoyt's] capturing what the industry is calling the "path to purchase,' from consuming media outside the retail environment all the way through to what Procter & Gamble Co. calls "the first moment of truth,' ” said Kelly Canavan, marketing manager at 3M Digital Out of Home, which exhibits at Shopper Marketing Expo. (P&G coined the term “first moment of truth” in 1995 to define the first few seconds when a consumer faces a product on the shelf.) “As a b-to-b supplier,” Caravan said, “we have to think about the entire path to purchase, so our products and services are understood and relevant at all of the appropriate touch points.” The institute, which has changed its website address (http://p2pi.org) to reflect its new name, has added several programs to its portfolio within the last 12 months. In addition to the Oasis service, the institute also introduced the Retail Academy, a program offering senior retail execs free lodging, seminars and a private lounge just off the show floor at this year's Shopper Marketing Expo. In September, the institute announced that it was collaborating with Effie Worldwide to expand the number of awards at the annual Effie Awards competition given for effectiveness in shopper marketing. Shopper Marketing Effie awards, which debuted last year with just two categories—one for manufacturers and one for retailers—will now be expanded to 15 categories. Winners will be announced at the institute's 2012 Shopper Marketing Summit, which will take place April 16-18 in Chicago. In order to keep members up-to-date on market trends, the institute last November introduced its League of Leaders, who meet twice a year and present 19-minute “Lighting Lectures” that offer insights on issues affecting the in-store shopping industry. League members also serve as adjunct editors for Shopper Marketing and provide ongoing feedback throughout the year on the publication's content. “Instead of having a board of directors that sits around and talks about policy, we're getting a fire hose of current concerns from the leaders of the industry,” Hoyt said, “and that, more than anything else we do, has empowered the institute to have its finger on the pulse of what's happening in the marketplace.”
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