In a simple sense, shopper marketing is an understanding of how consumers behave close to the point of the purchase. An understanding of their motivations and behaviours when they are in-store or on their way to the shops. Traditionally, it covers everything from retail experiential, to mobile marketing to point-of-sale, to retail promotions.
But, based on our experience working with clients in Ireland and as a hub across Europe, we have recognised a smarter approach to shopper marketing, and this new approach has been shaped by two things:
Firstly, an acknowledgement of the evolution in culture brought about by changes in technology, and secondly, an understanding of a through-the-line approach that is
derived from both the broader, transactional discipline of retail and the awareness drivers of brand communications.
That through-the-line approach is crucial. Too many brands and too many agencies—all supposed advocates of integrated marketing—treat shopper marketing in a dis-integrated way. The old approach of “above the line” and “below the line” hints at an implicit hierarchy that is out of date, unhelpful and has been left behind by the changes in the world around us. Consumers and customers should not be left to join the dots on our behalf. I’m all for gleaning insights from our audiences, but I don’t expect them to do our jobs for us.
Earlier this year we launched BBDO SHOP to shine a spotlight on our growth and expertise in the shopper marketing discipline, and broaden an understanding of what’s possible.
Importantly, while that name is designed to showcase our prowess in that area, its strength lies in the fact that BBDO SHOP behaves as a multi-disciplinary unit within BBDO Dublin, so that the retail implications of our work are never considered in isolation. Brand briefs are stress-tested for retail implications and vice-versa.
That in itself is a significant change, but what of the broader implications for the industry?
Changes for retailers
Bricks and mortar retailers have to define their raison d’etre to adapt to the irresistable rise of eCommerce. The way that shoppers shop is changing, along with what they expect from their shopping experience and this compounds everything.
The retailers who will win out are the ones who can deliver on the new ‘satisfaction currency’ that is: value (time and money) convenience, discovery and experience. These of course will vary in priority depending on shopper’s mission. The smarter retailers are the ones who get that shoppers needs are basically the same, but the way that they expect those needs to be fulfilled is evolving.
Take Target in the USA for example; its new stores have two entrances. A ‘grab & go’ for those looking to find a couple of items quickly and another entrance for shoppers with more time, on more of a ‘discovery’ mission. Target simply lays out its products in accordance with these shoppers’ needs.
Another good example is IKEA acquiring TaskRabbit, further optimising the service it provides to its customers.
Changes for brands
The brands that will win are the ones that can tighten and align their internal planning cycles, so that in-store activation and out-store awareness drivers are developed in tandem. That seems very simple, but the ability to brief through the line is a rare skill and those who can do should be lauded.
From my time in the United States, I learned so much from marketers such as Clive Sirkin at Kimberly Clark (now at Kellogg’s) for his disciplined commitment to integrated marketing without an implicit, predetermined hierarchy for touchpoints or indeed, executional partners.
The brands that get this bit right are the ones who succeed because they are able to narrow the key retail gaps: the gap between in-store and out-store, the gap between mobile and aisle, the gap between e-commerce and bricks and mortar and ultimately, the gap between consumer and brand.
Changes for agencies
The agencies that will win are the ones who can work beyond silos. The ones that throw away the old hierarchies and are able to consider the behavioural marketing cues in-store as well as the salient ones out-store. Basically, the ones who see the big picture, rather than siloed briefs and bring to bear the power of digital, e-commerce, social and brand communications on behalf of the brands they represent.
Ultimately, whether you’re an agency, a brand or a retailer, winning is about delivering immersive shopper experiences to drive category growth, without a silo in sight. And that’s a big change we can all welcome.
Neal Davies is CEO of BBDO Dublin. In association with APMC.
First published in Irish Marketing Journal (IMJ November 2017)© to order back issues please call 016611660