The role of Shopper Marketing continues to evolve at a rapid pace both locally and abroad. While the basic principles of creating insight-driven shopper initiatives remain mostly the same, the scope and required integration of marketing elements continue to become increasingly complex. The reason has less to do with shoppers than it does with the change in consumers. The relentless advances and adoption of technology into consumer’s everyday lives continue to change the dynamics of how they engage, communicate and most importantly consider and purchase brands.
We have identified the following three basic principles that we believe should be top of mind for any brand looking to be more effective in their marketing efforts:
The lines between the consumer and shopper’s journey will continue to collide and blur
The single most valuable principle that will continue to redefine how brands market themselves is centered around the consumer/shopper relationship. Without consumers, there are no shoppers. The challenge that brands now face is where do you draw the line between the two. Shopper Marketing was once primarily the reserve of bricks and mortar, but with the changes and ease created by technology, the switch in mindsets can occur well outside the physical store. Product research, comparisons, and purchasing can happen from any location that has internet capability and a smart device meaning consumers can switch to a shopping mindset while sitting on their couch at home. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly important for brands to precisely map out the most accurate consumer & shopper journey to purchase to remain relevant, effective, considered and competitive.
Getting attention in-store requires careful planning
This may sound like a pretty obvious principle. As the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”. And without the shopper’s attention, there is no engagement or sale. Considering people are primarily visually-driven creatures, what we choose to show shoppers and where we choose to show it is a far more complex scenario than just placing a display in-store and hoping for the best. Walking down the aisles of most formal and informal trading store formats reveals a universal reality – stock heavy, densely merchandised shelves and displays layered with promotional biased (primarily product and price) messaging. While high densities, price-driven promotions and extensive product ranges are essential in our cost-driven market, this dynamic creates a challenge for individual brands and products to be noticed. Merely placing communication at shelf (a banner or hotspot for example) can undoubtedly create standout, but that may not be enough considering the visual clutter and the few seconds shoppers give to most categories and products. The answer to this dilemma lies in how a brand curates critical brand assets (such a logo’s/pack shots) in conjunction with emotive imagery and a simple, compelling call to action. Our experience shows that a winning combination always includes the right “visual” proposition placed in the zone or zones that the shopper is most open to the brand or category proposition. This careful planning of how a visual message is constructed and placed in-store can be the defining factor between making or breaking a successful campaign.
If you want to beat the price, consider going for the heart
Walking through the aisles of most retailers will reveal a common communication trend – product and price promotions. With the tightening financial reality that everyday consumers continue to face, it is a surefire way to get shoppers to consider choosing your brand over another credible but higher-priced alternative by merely beating them on price. Our market (and many global markets for that matter) thrives on this dynamic and the general communication found in most stores confirms this. The potential issue with this promotional dynamic being overused or used as everyday business practice is not only diminishing margins but the reality that the conversation with a value-hungry consumer becomes short-term and shallow. While price is an essential factor, it is often not the first or only factor in the decision-making process. Quality, product benefits, brand equity and lowered risk, are just a few of the significant factors that shoppers may consider, the relevance being category dependent. And with people being emotionally-driven beings, the most significant opportunity for brands not necessarily wanting to fight competitors on price is combining these factors with sufficient emotional clout. Creating an emotional connection between the shopper and the brand can be a compelling manner to not only get their attention but resonate with them in a way that changes the dynamics of how they see and consider your brand within the broader category. This emotional connection coupled with a high-value proposition (price, quality, benefits) can make for a far more powerful and differentiated brand proposition. And linking back to my first point above, the emotional connection is usually found in the consumer insights and motivations more so than the shoppers.