JC Penney, MillerCoors, Wilson, and Oath Share 4 Essential Principles for Effective Shopper Marketing

What: We talked about Shopper Marketing to JC Penney's Ana Lucía Soto, MillerCoors' Turiya Luzadder, Wilson's Ángel Carmona, and Oath's Maya Abinakad and Denise Brien.
Why it matters: The term 'Shopper Marketing' has been around for some time, but there's still not as much attention focused on "shoppers" as there is on "consumers", which could mean a missed growth opportunity.

Shopper marketing tries to inspire shoppers to make last-minute sales when they are already prepared to buy something. The main characteristic of in-situ marketing, especially when compared to other media, is that it seeks to make an immediate impact. The notion hasn't always been around; Procter & Gamble is considered as one of the pioneers in shopper marketing in the U.S. around 2001. Several definitions of the concept have floated around since, and a widely accepted version, provided by POPAI's Shopper Marketing Industry Council in 2011, states that shopper marketing refers to "the application of shopper insights along the path to purchase, to affect purchase behavior in order to increase sales for both retailers and manufacturers."

For marketing consultant Mike Anthony, the problem with this definition is that the word "insight" is an elusive one. For this reason, he thinks of shopper marketing as a process of understanding rather than an application of insights. For Anthony, the key to this kind of marketing is "using that understanding to develop a marketing mix which influences shopper behavior" in a way that improves consumption of a certain brand.

Though there are many ways to do this, there are common techniques to persuade shoppers depending on who is designing the campaign. Manufacturers consider price, packaging, and arrangement of products, while retailers emphasize the location, the store layout, and lighting, for example. We talked to marketing experts about the key facts of shopper marketing in the future, which, in reality, is already here.

1. Customer Experience is Key, Both Online and Offline

MillerCoors' Turiya Luzadder

It's all about experience, not online or offline but both. In the words of Turiya Luzadder, Director, Shopper & Local Insights at MillerCoors, "Retailers and brands looking to win with consumers must provide a positive in-store/online experience that quickly instills confidence that the product will meet the needs (functional and emotional) of the consumption occasion." As she explains, everything is changing at a quick pace, but there's a big opportunity to learn about online and offline solutions, as each one offers something different. "People will shop both online and offline as each exploits its own strengths. Online will lead with its promise of convenience, offline will seek to provide people with an experience as it retains the advantage of a tactile environment with social interaction."

 

Oath's Maya Abinakad

Either online or offline, but mostly both, what really matters is making sure the experience is so great consumers come looking for your brand. According to a study conducted by Maya Abinakad, Global Marketing Director, and Denise Brien, Senior Director of Consumer Insights at Oath, 9% of consumers' brand love comes from outstanding experiences. "Brands [who] transform ordinary into extraordinary deliver experiences that are consistent, engaging and memorable," they explain.

Even though there is now a shift towards a completely digital landscape, brands need not lose sight of what really matters: ensuring shoppers have a good experience. "The key is to offer the best experience possible to our consumers," asserts Ángel Carmona, Business Manager, Latin America at Wilson. "We need to engage our brand with our consumers by a shopping process which needs to be friendly, clear, and fulfilling. Our client's satisfaction is crucial for references and future purchases."

2. It's the Era of Technology: Better Know How to Use It

JCPenney's Ana Lucía Soto

Every day new technologies become more relevant. As Oath's Abinakad and Brien state, "Marketing is one of the main strategies that evolve in every technology trend; the relationship between customers and technology is a trigger that changes everything around it." This means that, if a brand wishes to stay relevant, it has no option but to capitalize on this relationship. "Today's industry is much more data-driven, with increased access tools that can provide real-time information on shopper behavior," comments Ana L. Soto, National Media Manager at JCPenney. "Data insights will allow companies to better understand a consumer's behavior and path to purchase, which will allow them to target their marketing efforts more effectively."

Oath's Denise Brien

"We could say that programmatic marketing will have a significative growth this year," point out Abinakad and Brien. "This strategy allows marketers to channel their ads to the correct audience and tailor the message to each product or services’ target. In this sense, location-based marketing plays a key role in insights of where consumers are and how to offer them the best option according to their location in real time." This and other trends, like the accelerated change from desktop to mobile, will have an important impact on the way marketers address shoppers; technology is a real opportunity to reach targets effectively.

Also by Portada: Growing Hispanic Retailers Impact Overall Grocery and Food Trends

3. You Need to Look Inside as Well as Outside Your Doors

Wilson's Ángel Carmona

As Wilson's Ángel Carmona explains, implementing a campaign is not enough. It is also necessary to "integrate and evangelize your staff. They are your most important ambassadors at the point of purchase and should be the best way to engage with the consumers." In other words, everyone in your organization needs to be on the same channel; there's no use in having a great product if only you know it, and there's a great chance shoppers will engage more if the whole team has a deep knowledge of why they should engage.

Making mistakes is easy, but it's also easy to avoid them if you get your priorities right.

Therefore, Ana L. Soto recommends "to have alignment, consistency, and collaboration within your organization —from internal teams all the way to agency partners— in order to use the correct channels to target the consumer effectively and ultimately drive actionable results that engage them in a meaningful way to them."

4. Here's What You Should Do, and What You Shouldn't Do

When Portada asked our interviewees about the most common mistakes related to shopper marketing, they took us back to the basics: communication, human needs, and positive change. For Turiya Luzadder, "Making mistakes is easy, but it's also easy to avoid them if you get your priorities right". In her words, there are three key priorities to bear in mind in order to avoid mistakes: 1) to bring the organizational focus back to the human and retailer needs. "We spend so much time focused on our own goals that we risk losing sight of our dependence on consumer and retailer engagement"; 2) to constantly tear down the silos. "Strong communication amongst teams (brand, consumer, channel, shopper, chain, analytics...) is critical. It's easy to go too far down a path before seeking feedback; and 3) being willing to take risks to create change. "There are times when you have to take a chance on an idea that is different and makes people uncomfortable. Finding the right retail partner and marketing advocates becomes critical."

No matter how good your product is, if a consumer is not satisfied with the experience they won't come back.

For Ana L. Soto, the easiest mistake to make is not having a true understanding of the customer: "Marketers need to have a clear understanding of their target audience coupled with data-driven insights into their behavior," she comments. "This is crucial in determining and executing a successful strategy that will lead to high levels of engagement." It is easy to get lost in technology and new trends and forget what truly matters. Ultimately, says Ángel Carmona, the main objective should be providing the best shopping experience possible. "No matter how good your product is, if a consumer is not satisfied with the experience they won't come back. We live in a global market and we compete with more brands than ever, so we are only as good as our service."

And sometimes that implies going a step further. In the midst of the fiercest competition, it is the brands that go that extra mile who get the best results. According to Abinakad and Brien, 30% of brand love is determined by its ability to exceed consumer needs, and "brands that give consumers what they want —often before consumers even ask— offer something that competitors can’t. The secret is overdelivering on quality, durability, design, and performance in your product, your marketing and everywhere you meet your consumer."

 


Janet Grynberg @grynberg_janet

Janet has worked as editor and translator since 2013. After graduating with honors when receiving her Bachelor's Degree in English literature, she began working as a book reviewer for Expansión, the leading business magazine in Mexico. She has also worked as editor of young adult literature for publishing houses like Planeta and Penguin, and she's the author of a book of short stories. She's in the process of getting her MA in English at McGill University. Her interests include arts, good food, and her 8 pets.

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