Shopper Marketing Grows Faster Than Digital, Social
It may not be as sexy as social media, Internet advertising, or mobile, but shopper marketing is on fire. In the next three years, 83% of food, beverage and consumer product marketers plan to crank up their investments in shopper marketing, with 55% planning increases of more than 5% annually, according to a new report issued today by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Booz & Co.
While the study looked at a total of 49 possible vehicles of shopper marketing -- defined as reaching people when they are in active shopping mode, as opposed to sitting on the couch watching a ball game -- some of the most effective are also the most primitive, including shelf signage.
"A lot of the traditional vehicles have high staying power," Matt Egol, partner in Booz & Co.'s consumer, media and digital practice, tells Marketing Daily. Humble shelf signs are "high quality, easy to execute, and can be done on a national scale fairly easily." Such bread-and-butter methods "continue to be viewed as the most effective means of reinforcing targeted equity messages and influencing purchase," the report says.
But the biggest changes, adds Brian P. Lynch, the GMA's director of sales and sales promotion, are based on companies' emerging sense of the way shoppers are changing their grocery habits, with 62% of shoppers searching for deals digitally before at least half of their shopping trips.
And early adopters -- the 29% who actively use social media and own or plan to buy a smartphone -- engage in even higher levels of digital deal hunting. "Consumers are more empowered to dictate that path to purchase, and while the advertising world is more fragmented, it also provides a whole new opportunity for analytics, and to really collaborate on brand objectives, and building more loyalty."
For example, Egol says, shoppers are "more likely to go to manufacturers' Web sites for things like recipes and nutrition information, and to retailers' sites for pricing. We're seeing tremendous opportunities for brands and retailers to work together. There's a lot of room to engage the consumer in the digital environment."
But that can be tricky, since there are some inherent conflicts between retailers and manufacturers, especially at a time when so many stores are expanding private label offerings to appeal to budget-conscious shoppers.
"The manufacturer wants to get equity," Egol explains, "so brands are sensitive to paying for events when private-label brands are also being promoted." But while there has been some tension, historically, "over who controlled what in the four walls of the store and the sharing of data, it's much more of a jump ball now. Both have more opportunities to measure things for insights, and as a result, there are more opportunities to collaborate."
Despite the high growth rate in shopper marketing spending, the study also found a fair amount of confusion over what methods are most effective, even as companies shift their budgets away from traditional media. (In this survey, print, TV and trade promotions were the biggest losers, showing declines of 17%, 14% and 7%, respectively.)
The report was based on a survey of more than 2,000 shoppers, as well as a survey of industry executives representing manufacturers, retailers and shopper marketing agencies.