industry thoughts from Clarteza

30 October
Katy Gajewicz and Mag Retelewski

Shopper Insights – Raising the Stakes on What it Takes to Win

The term “re-frame” has never been more appropriate than in marketing today.

It is apparent that a massive paradigm shift in the way marketers approach their marketing and communication plans is well underway (for those who haven’t previously embraced it).  For years now, front-loaded plans where the bulk of thought and resources are spent influencing the consumer well before she sets foot in a store have been giving way to a more holistic approach where the integration and synergy of brand messaging across multiple consumer touch-points is not only important, but essential.  But more recently, the key player in the game of marketing is being re-defined from the “consumer” to the “shopper” and the playing field has ultimately shifted from the construct of “consumption funnel” to the “shopper journey” – where the object of the game is to most efficiently communicate to the shopper as she travels the path to purchase from pre-store, to in-store, to post-purchase.

As evidence of the shift in shopper marketing’s increasing role globally, many marketers are going through large-scale company re-organizations to better align their internal marketing structure, positioning Shopper Marketing squarely in the center.  What was previously somewhat of a “fifth” wheel in some organizations, is now essentially an equal member of the team and, in some cases, highly influential in calling the shots.

It’s no surprise why this shift has taken place – the digital revolution has enabled an endless supply of information about products and brands, accessible before, during, and after a purchase.  And so the ability to influence a potential purchase at the decisive “moments” is constant, and marketers must build, and communicate, their brand story with that in mind.  This necessitates that any strong integrated marketing campaign simply must include shopper marketing as a prominent pillar.

A prioritization of shopper marketing also brings into focus something trade teams have known forever – manufacturers must also accommodate another critical member of the team, the retailer, whose main focus is ensuring incremental sales.  This means that any manufacturer initiative, if it is to be embraced by the trade, must show that what is good for the brand’s sales is also good for the retailer’s sales.

As a consequence of this re-framed game where shopper marketing is paramount, shopper insights have become coveted currency.  Yet importantly, shopper insights for the sake of insights alone are not valuable. Even more pressure is being put on shopper research to produce actionable insights, insights that lead to customizable solutions for marketers and retailers, insights that demonstrate touch-point utility across the shopper journey.   For example:

– Showing data for the time a shopper spends at shelf is informative, but illustrating how category organization can impact purchase decisions at shelf is actionable.

– Reporting availability and placement of a brand at shelf is informative, but demonstrating the loss to manufacturer and retailer in an out-of-stock is actionable

– Representing the most consumer-preferred promotions is informative, but quantifying which combination of in-store efforts would deliver the best return on investment is actionable.

Let’s face it, marketers are inundated with information every day (, and more often than ever, shopper data is available by the 200+ page deck.  In the end, however, shopper data is only useful if it can be actioned against to produce winning results.

Because no matter what they tell you in Kindergarten, to marketers, it does matter whether you win or lose, and you’d better know how to play the game.

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