10 Tips For Powerful Shopper Marketing

by , Feb 12, 2013, 8:00 AM
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There's a famous Zen saying: “The obstacle is the path.” It could have been uttered by a shopper marketer. Why? Because shopper marketing is about understanding the shopper's path and influencing her past the obstacles to purchase.

The analytical side of shopper marketing is no different. The complexity of the shopper journey tests our ability to measure and analyze exactly what's working. Here are 10 ways to overcome the obstacles to smarter analytics -- and to generate more sales.

1. Align shopper programs and analytics with other marketing and sales efforts.  Shopper marketing sometimes inhabits its own niche in marketers' minds and organizations. But it will contribute mightily if it is part of "the whole picture" and aligned with other drivers, such as sales goals and above-the-line campaigns. This means that shopper marketers must leave their silos. And here's another reason why traditional marketers should embrace their shopper colleagues: there is evidence that successful shopper marketers are good collaborators by nature -- and high achievers in the corporate setting.

2. Push manufacturer and retailer collaboration.  Granted, these parties increasingly are in competition. But a recent GMA/Booz & Co. survey found that 87 percent of manufacturers either "agree" or “strongly agree” that the recent emphasis on shopper solutions has improved their collaborative relationships with retailers. This is welcome news, because GMA/Booz & Co. pointed out in a separate report three years ago that refusal to collaborate over shopper insights makes it harder for either party to sell its own management on shopper initiatives going forward.

3. Don't skip shopper marketing research because of a small budget. Experts can suggest an appropriate measurement/analytics program for virtually any budget. When done right, sometimes small, data-driven studies on shopper specifics can allow inferences about other areas, like brand equity. Small data provides the “why” to big data's "what."

4. Don't fall prey to perfectionism or insecurity. A recent article noted that while traditional above-the-line advertising often has murky ROI, shopper marketing is expected to be somehow more measurable. Thus, the article notes, “within the walled gardens of their companies, shopper marketers lament the shortcomings of their methods, even when they are relatively minor." Measure a range of shopper behaviors that contribute to ultimate success or illuminate the road to ROI (such as factors like increased aisle turn-in, shelf engagement and advocates/reviewers).

5. Experiment and consider something new.  In traditional advertising, measurement systems are mature, so the question is which marketing tactics to measure. But in shopper marketing, you also need to experiment with the measurement systems themselves. So take stock often: a top ConAgra marketer said recently that he advocates a “measure, learn, change” approach with very frequent reviews, where you're not only studying results but the efficacy of the measurement and analytics themselves.

6. Don't measure just to measure – envision what success looks like.  “It is tempting to use the metric we can easily get rather than measure the real objective of the program,” said Tracey Doucette, SVP, customer strategy, field and shopper marketing at PepsiCo, in the same issue of

7. Incorporate social media analytics.  Social, mobile, newer digital touchpoints: the measurement models aren’t wrong, but social isn't directly driving a lot of sales yet. It will, however, so the question is: “When do I start taking money away from established mechanisms, and how much?” You can spend a flat $10 million in TV today and generate results now, but you will need a more sophisticated mix soon.

8. Remember, shopper marketing isn't just about sales.  So be sure to measure what each element really can achieve. Yoplait's successful “pink lid” campaign benefiting Susan B. Komen for the Cure is a powerful shopper-centric cause-marketing campaign. it can be measured in terms of brand perception and its ripple effect, not just its strict sales results.

9. Get a creative's opinion.  Good creatives have insights into how shoppers think and behave. Just as the numbers can inform creatives’ insights, creatives’ insights can strongly inform the assumptions your researchers make about what behaviors to measure and how.

10. Remember that shopper measurement and analytics will never stop getting better. There is a gap between the distinct goals of brands (brand loyalty, sales lift and category share) and retailers (store loyalty, basket size and category growth). But evolving best practices are bridging these gaps with shopper programs and analytics to benefit ambitious brands right now.

Shopper marketing is about removing obstacles to purchase. These 10 tips can help you remove the obstacles to better measurement and analytics.

1 comment on "10 Tips For Powerful Shopper Marketing ".

  1. Mike Anthony from engage
    commented on: February 15, 2013 at 12:21 a.m.
    Hi Michael, Thanks for this - a really good list! In particular your thoughts around measurement - and that poor shopper marketers seem to get held to a higher standard here than virtually any other marketing discipline. Interesting! Thanks for sharing

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