Shopper marketing is both a new discipline and an old practice. Marketers have long used the in-store environment to make that last-ditch effort to influence a purchase. But until a decade or so ago, that messaging was often largely disconnected from the brand-building outside the store that dominated marketing campaigns and budgets.
Guidelines "definitely have not been written down," said Bob Woodard, the Advertising Research Foundation's exec VP-advertising effectiveness.
Still, that 's not to say best practices haven't emerged. "We believe shopper marketing is art and science," said Tiffany Begoon, client-leadership director, TracyLocke. "Our mantra for the practice is about getting information, observing shopper behavior and purchase patterns, and using them to get to a brilliant insight that triggers an innovative idea which shapes shopper behavior."
Practitioners concur that these are the basic building blocks to a shopper-marketing campaign:
- Insights based on actual shopper behavior and perceptions drawn from various types of direct and indirect research.
- A clear consumer target -- not just a demographic cohort, but a specific group that shares the same life situation and aspirations. "If you clearly understand it, you can help solve for it," Ms. Begoon said. "Understand the current behavior and what you want it to be. It's a marriage of all info to an insight to drive an idea and apply to retail.
- A clear objective based on both brand and retailer goals, such as driving a trial. "The more clear and succinct, the better the program is ," said Anne Jones, VP-shopper marketing and business-development team, Kimberly-Clark. "You see many times people set five objectives for one shopper-marketing program," said Markus Stahlberg, CEO of shopper-marketing agency Phenomena. "It doesn't work like that . If you set five objectives, you achieve none. Choose one objective well. It should be related to buying decisions vs. brand building."
- An integrated approach drawn through collaboration among key players including shopper marketing, brand marketing, public relations and retailer marketing is essential to make sure the project is clear and cohesive. Multiple touch points are critical to bring the customer along the path to purchase and disrupt rote shopping habits.
- A set of measures to determine if goals have been met and assess the strength of various elements of the program.
TIPS FOR CRAFTING A SUCCESSFUL SHOPPER-MARKETING CAMPAIGN
Larger Goals Are Better
"It's got to be more than creating share and building one brand at the expense of others," said Scott McCallum, JWT/OgilvyAction president-shopper marketing. "You've got to do things to truly grow the category, increase traffic at the retailer, and help the retailer expand transactions in multiple categories."
Every Retail Brand Is Different
Retailers may compete in the same category and sell similar merchandise. But every retailer is unique and attracts its own customer base. "You've got to delineate one retailer vs. another," said Joe Robinson, president of shopper-marketing agency RPM Connect. "You've got to assess why a shopper picks a channel and then a retailer within that channel. Then you have to help the retailer delineate what is the brand message they want to deliver to the shopper for that occasion and channel."
Not Just for CPG
Shopper marketing has spread beyond its consumer-packaged-goods legacy. The basic principles -- understand the deep aspirations and motivations of a very specific group of customers, glean an insight about how that fits with the product category at hand, and develop an integrated media campaign to gain their attention and move them to trial and purchase -- can be widely applied to everything from insurance to real estate.
Data Sharing Needed
The best campaigns come from collaboration between brand and retailer. When the brand's deep research into aspirations and desires of the target customer are married with well-segmented retail-customer data, campaigns are laser-focused on the shoppers who will find them most relevant.