All eyes on shopper marketing

shoppermarketingBrands are rethinking marketing strategies, analyzing what is working and what isn’t. In this economic climate, marketers are re-evaluating this year’s budgets. Some are turning away from big ticket buys in TV and print, and looking for the most accountable and measurable opportunities that lead to sales lift. With the emphasis on direct results,  shopper marketing is suddenly all the buzz. Apple’s decision to withdraw from MacWorld, is a recent example of a brand adjusting marketing budgets to focus their retail efforts.

Bill Gerba, CEO of WireSpring, points out in a recent article that there has been a substantial increase in marketers’ interest in shopper marketing based on THE HUB’s survey results from the past three years. This year’s data indicates that 45% of respondents have an integrated process in place and 64% have established budgets for planning and executing shopper marketing initiatives. This is in contrast to marketers’ very limited knowledge of the opportunities in 2006.

HUB’s research shows that the most common marketing initiatives are collaboration with retailers on shopper understanding. Companies are working with multiple retailers to research their specific shoppers and are looking to agencies to help plan and implement these initiatives. This makes sense; customer insight is key to strategically planning and reaching consumers with effective messages at the point of decision.

Brands are aware that the economy is affecting consumers’ behavior and purchase decisions. But there’s more to the story.

According to NCR Corporation’s research “People assume that in an economic downturn the consumer is only motivated by price, but this research shows that retailers also need to deliver on changing service expectations that consumers say they value as well. Consumers in these uncertain times are clearly showing a preference for retailers that can meet their expectations through self-service options on the web, mobile and in store. These technologies are playing a growing role in helping retailers deliver competitive advantage.” Other notable findings of NCR’s survey of U.S. consumers include:

·    53 percent are using the Internet more frequently to research products and prices.
·    49 percent are switching between retailers, ‘shop hopping’, to get better value.
·    26 percent are making more frequent shopping trips to take advantage of promotions.
·    73 percent believe that it is important that store employees are available to help locate products
·    48 percent believe staff advice on discount and promotions is important.

Instead of just rethinking the media purchases (killing/squashing/putting the kabosh on budgets) brands should capitalize on these consumer insights and invest in consumer. Brands can use the challenge of a down economy to improve messaging, offers and products in ways that will aid in consumers’ purchase decisions.

Customer insight is what got me passionate about marketing when I entered the industry 10 years ago. Paco Underhill’s “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping” published a decade ago was ahead of its time and made a big impact on me then. I look forward to hearing how his perspective has evolved in  his DSE keynote “The Science of Shopping Meets the Information Age.” Things are evolving and, as NCR and HUB’s research shows, more opportunities exist than ever before for brands to connect with their consumers. Now begins the challenge of actually connecting. Why not start with a renewed look at shopper marketing?

For further reading check out these great articles:
Miller Zell Shopper Behavior Survey Provides Insights Into Consumer Buying Behavior

He shops, she shops

Pick a Product: 40 percent of Public Decide in Store

After years of being overlooked, shopper marketing’s proving it can finally deliver the goods