Why Is Shopper Marketing The Red-Headed Stepchild?

Last week I attended a fantastic event in Chicago called  “The League of Leaders,” an initiative run by the Path to Purchase Institute. Heard of them? Of course you haven’t.

That’s because the subject matter focused on shopper marketing, the red-headed stepchild of the marketing ecosystem.

I delivered a keynote to this group of marketers representing pretty much the crème de la crème of the entire consumer packaged goods spectrum. In my opening remarks, I made a joke about the fact that the advertising industry was slumming it in Cannes, whereas I’d hit the proverbial jackpot at the Westin O’Hare Airport Hotel, instead of puking off the port side of a luxury yacht.

Unfair comparison, really. The reality is, the only place to be was in Chicago. That's where the REAL money is! Case in point: Total U.S. retail sales projected for 2014 is a whopping $4.7 trillion (according to eMarketer), with in-store representing $4.4 trillion of this amount.



So why then is the overwhelming majority of marketers’ budgets being spent on acquisition marketing, designed at worst to deliver reach, frequency, awareness and whiffs of consideration, or, at best, to get someone into a store or supermarket, as opposed to completing the process and closing the deal in-store?

Observation 1: There is a complete disconnect between what is spent on prospecting, persuading and reminding versus what’s spent on sampling, converting and closing.

According to Veronis Suhler, $51.53 billion will be spent in 2014 on point-of-purchase, coupons, promotional licensing, premiums, loyalty programs, product sampling, and finally sponsored games, contests and sweeps. As a rough benchmark, eMarketer projects 2014 US media ad spending to be $177.8 billion (that’s ad spending, not marketing).

If you are familiar with my Marketing Bowtie™ framework that essentially unifies the traditional and flipped funnels (picture them side by side, where outside-in meets inside-out to deliver a bowtie), then we would be talking about what I call P.O.P. (place of purchase and/or point of purchase).

Observation 2: There is an acute lack of investment, intellect and/or innovation in the last three feet (in-store).

Speaking of P.O.P., there’s also a third expression, namely “proof of purchase.” This gets into flip the funnel territory, or retention as the new acquisition wheelhouse. In an era of mobile wallets and Passbooks, there is an extremely limited showcase of viable technologies, platforms and/or apps designed to deliver “from the cart into the heart” (stick a ™ on that for me, please).

Observation 3: The marketing machine abandons ship at the sale, and does not continue the momentum and relationship building post-sale.

The fact is that shopper marketing (increasingly being referred to as customer marketing) is still thought of superficially and tactically instead of from a more holistic and integrated perspective. If only there was a way to connect the dots…

Which brings us to the final piece of the puzzle, the one device to rule them all, the true common thread throughout the entire contact management continuum.

Of course I’m talking about mobile.

Observation 4: Mobile suffers from the same neglect in-store as it does everywhere else in the marketing world.

Arguably, mobile is even more important in-store.

As is innovation.

Fortunately, I did see a handful of incredible technologies and startups at this meeting that are looking to revolutionize the blue ocean of shopper marketing. These companies are also coupled with startups experimenting in areas like multiscreen integration, heat mapping, conductive ink, augmented reality, in-store mapping and big data.

And so, to those executives frequenting the aisles of their favorite supermarket for Pepto-Bismol to nurse those post-Cannes blues, I humbly suggest “canning” next year’s festival for a much shorter, less costly trip.

You don’t even need to leave the premises to have arrived.

10 comments about "Why Is Shopper Marketing The Red-Headed Stepchild?".
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  1. Brian Mccourt from freeallmedia, June 24, 2014 at 1:20 p.m.

    Just FYI...This is a repulsive head line and offensive to all red haired people and step-children on the planet. it's tantamount to saying..."it's not bad enough that the kid is a step child... but what's worse is they have red-hair to boot making them even less loved or desirable." It's time to strike this phrase from your lexicon... if not perhaps there is a job in PR for you at the Washington...soon to be named something else football team.

  2. Jim Lillig from Synergy Intermedia, June 24, 2014 at 1:44 p.m.

    Joe, I love the "from the cart to the heart" slogan. Fitting. I could not agree more with your assessment of the state of POP/shopper marketing in retail. One simple solution that may have value in grocery stores (and IKEA as well) or any store that features shopping carts, is to have a cell phone mount on the cart itself. pushing a cart and juggling a mobile device is not easy unless you have three hands. With a mobile device mount, shoppers can connect to an app from the retailer to get in-store promotions. Of course with proper signage to promote the app or mobile optimized website (complete with QR code) shopper would then be able to shop, scroll and stroll (TM please) the aisles getting the latest deals and promo's CPG brands want to promote. With the addition of geotargeting it can get really hyper-personalized. For example, it the shopper is passing the Starbucks display in store, the phone can alert them to new products or even a promo for a discount. Bottom line it would all start with installing a mount for a mobile device on the cart. Everyone multi-tasks and this is just one more way to make that easier while in store.

    Great article and I will plan on attending the conference here in Chicago next year.

  3. Ann Balboa from Orange22, June 24, 2014 at 1:57 p.m.

    I remember now that the bulk of people that made fun of my red hair when I was little had brown hair and glasses - Thanks for the memories!

  4. Joseph Jaffe from HMS Beagle, LLC, June 24, 2014 at 3:06 p.m.

    @Brian - Really sorry it offended you. It's an expression I grew up with and isn't meant to be taken literally. @Jim - love it: scroll and stroll(tm)

  5. Brian Quinn from Triad Retail Media, June 24, 2014 at 4:29 p.m.

    Joe...Triad really created the notion of digital shopper marketing when we launched the company with a partnership with Walmart almost 10 years ago. And, we think shopper marketing is pretty damn sexy! Demonstrating in-store impact to national brands is as sexy as it gets.

  6. Joe Robinson from Catapult, June 24, 2014 at 5:02 p.m.

    Joseph: enjoyed your presentation at P2PI and reading your book. You're right that there is a step change coming to behavior-based marketing that will unsettle many of the industry's collective stomachs, almost as bad as that yacht trip you describe in Cannes.

  7. Mike Anthony from engage, June 25, 2014 at 1:38 a.m.

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the post - anything which drives focus on shoppers is a good thing in my book!

    However, your suggestion that in-store/shopper marketing doesn't attract enough investment misses the point that the vast amount of money spent on inducing purchases is spent via retailers, in the forms of discounts, slotting fees, display fees, gondola fees, etc. Once all that is factored in you can see that actually the spend in this area is plentiful.
    The problem is that the spend isn't made wisely, or insightfully, such that (in our surveys) around 70% of it loses money. That is where the true crime in shopper marketing lies.



  8. Maarten Albarda from Flock Associates (USA), June 25, 2014 at 3:35 a.m.

    JJ: to understand the stepchild mentality in the marketing eco system you need to look at organizational structure. In almost all organizations, consumer marketing and trade/shopper marketing are two separate organizations, typically reporting to the CEO. In reality (and as evidenced throughout my marketing career) these two organizations go about their business in two completely separate silo's. There are (wrongly!) often mutual feelings that the other department haven't got a clue about what matters for the business. And because they literally develop their annual plans completely isolated from one-another typically two plans meet each other on the desk of the CEO prior to being presented to the C-suite. Meaning that in one and the same market, for one and the same brand, the analysis by marketing might be that the brand needs a boost of reconsideration by consumers to prop up lagging sales, whereas sales/shopper marketing concludes it is a pricing issue. Both have developed a full annual plan to address their completely different conclusions with obviously completely mismatching strategies. I have plenty of real life examples of the consequences of this disconnect. And because the CEO doesn't want to play favorites, there is then a compromise plan that doesn't make a choice for either strategy and creating a dysfunctional brand execution in connections and shopper environment. So while I applaud the Path To Purchase Institute's efforts, they would need to first bridge the silo-gap between the two departments instead of feeling ignored. And because love is a two-way street (just look at our relationship!) the ANA should join that effort.

  9. Pedro Pozo Acosta from Shopo, June 25, 2014 at 3:08 p.m.

    Great eye opener Joe, there's always a reversion to the mean, to the basic needs of consumers as human beings

  10. Philip Rist from Prosper Business Development, July 1, 2014 at 3:38 p.m.

    Nice article Joe. To assist the red-headed step children, we put a complimentary Shopper Marketing insights center together. Enjoy's free.

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