Overcome Shopper Marketing Challenges

I had the privilege of being one of the speakers at the BAA (Brand Activation Association) conference last week. One session I particularly enjoyed was from Aaron Newhouse, director of shopper marketing at ACH Food Companies, discussing how challenger brands cut through the clutter with retailers to compete with the big dogs. Newhouse noted that, many times, innovation comes from the brands that have the smaller budgets, so they have to be creative in their marketing approach, even though they face similar challenges with shopper marketing.

Having spent 6+ years at a shopper marketing company, (before it was called “shopper marketing” — we just referred to it as in-store marketing), and listening to this session, it seems that the challenges marketers face have not changed all that much. Fortunately, the solutions have. Technology and the way consumers use it are helping us overcome these challenges in new and exciting ways. The top challenges I see most often are:



·      Retailer interaction and access

·      Brand awareness

·      Engagement with your customers

Retailer Access

It can be tough for smaller brands to get in front of big retailers. But those same brands may have an advantage when it comes to working with smaller, but powerful, retailers because larger brands can’t afford to pay close attention to them. The way in is to offer added value.

Data is powerful and available. If CPG brands bring new information to their retail partners, this can be their opportunity. Brands can use their own customer data to deliver new insights to the stores; preferably those insights are from the retailers’ own shoppers.

Brand Awareness

Shopper marketers strive to do a better job of driving awareness to their brand before the consumer gets to the store. Advertising noise becomes a challenge while in-store because you do not want to disrupt the shopper experience. Something important to consider when deciding where to spend your shopper marketing media dollars; 71% of consumers said they are more likely to make a purchase on a retail site or in-store based on social media referrals. Social media is a powerful way to spark awareness about brands. 


There is some amazing technology being developed to better engage consumers during their shopping trip. Beacon technology, and apps like Ibotta, and ShopKick are all gaining traction because they can deliver relevant messages at the times that matter most. Take that one step further and remember well-executed shopper programs are not only thinking of ways to engage the consumer before and during the trip, but also after. What is your next point of contact with that consumer and how are you nurturing them? 

A white paper from Media Math published last year said, “Shopper marketing today not only focuses on driving sales, but on understanding what drives shoppers to the store and what other items they might buy. It also, out of necessity, focuses on the many touch points a consumer will encounter along his or her path to purchase, both online and offline.” Additionally from the white paper, according to a GMA and Deloitte study: Only 36% of CPG marketers regularly collect this kind of data, compared with 75% who leverage more general consumer research. If leading CPG marketers understand that shopper insights are accelerating growth for the big guys, we can wonder why aren’t the rest following suit. Often, as Media Math says, the answer is that it seems like too much work, or there’s an overwhelming amount of data, and it can appear hard to collect and use tangibly.

This is a tremendous opportunity for the brands to be category innovators. By capturing and using consumer insights and data in a way that helps you engage your most important consumers, you can not only compete with the big dogs, you can win.

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