By Tom Flanagan, Director, Strategic Services
Earlier this week, I posted my initial feedback from the Path to Purchase Institute’s Shopper Marketing Summit. Now, it’s on to the good stuff: what did we learn? The biggest theme that stood out to me was around the technological empowerment, and resulting entitlement, of the modern shopper. John Ross, EVP Inmar Inc., gave a talk focused on the “Amazonification” of retail, explaining that today’s shopper expects an Amazon-like level of personalization, complete with valuable offers or content, each time they step into a store. Shoppers expect this treatment in brick-and-mortar stores, simply put, because they’re getting it elsewhere. Given the challenges inherent in trying to customize a shopper’s experience in a grocery store the same way her experience is customized online, manufacturers and retailers will need to collaborate and innovate in order to meet these heightened expectations.
Another major trend that stood out was the focus on mobile marketing. We’ve seen a growing interest in mobile shopper marketing from our own customers, and the dialogue at the Summit confirmed that this an industry-wide focus. It’s not hard to see why: if you’re a retailer trying to bring more relevant messaging into your in-store experience, you should probably start with the high-powered computer every shopper is carrying through your aisles. After a main stage case study from Ahold USA’s EVP, Marketing, Erik Keptner, and Peapod Interactive’s VP, Managing Director, Tim Dorgan, that celebrated the success of Ahold’s innovative “Scan It” app that allows shoppers to being their checkout process in-aisle, I’m sure that retailers went back to headquarters wondering how best to create their own in-store shopping app, while manufacturers started thinking of the best ways to get their products featured front and center once the app is live.
Last, there was a strong focus on the importance of “context” in the area of shopper marketing. In our world, context is often a synonym for IAB content channel or site name. In a series of case studies from Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide, April Carlisle, SVP, Director of Strategy for Global Shopper Marketing and Nick Fotis, Director, Digital Strategy co-presented examples where understanding context went a lot deeper – their programs considered a shopper’s motivations, concerns, shopping habits and consumption habits to differentiate from their competitive set at the point of purchase and win customers. In one example, they showed that adding a perforated pop-out in Keystone Light boxes enabled their customers to toss crushed cans into them in Keystone’s own branded version of the popular lawn game Cornhole. The promotion was cleverly titled “Canhole,” and by understanding their college-aged male shoppers’ consumption behaviors and building an entertaining value proposition into their product packaging, Keystone won big at the register and blew away benchmarks against their closest competitors.
At the center of all three trends is real, meaningful shopper insight – a database of offer/message combinations and a slick digital interface through which to present them only becomes a game-changer when you know enough about your shopper to deliver those offers and recommendations to a targeted audience who will be delighted by their relevance. At its best, activated customer intelligence should make your customers genuinely value the personalization and see it as distinct from plain old advertising or cross-promoting. To reach this ideal state, the insights need to be accurate and fast-to-market, otherwise you risk offering baby food to a family whose child has grown into a toddler, or recommending weight-loss recipes to a shopper who has already taken their diet-based shopping needs elsewhere. Some of these insights can be gleaned from digital touch points, but some can’t – CPG marketers still know their customers, and most of their transactions still take place offline, so there needs to be a strong collaboration between the online and offline world in order to drive real value.
These problems – developing addressable profiles of shopper behavior and activating those insights quickly across multiple channels – are the ones brands and retailers seemed most interested in discussing with us when they dropped by to chat with DataXu at the Summit. We had some great conversations with forward-thinking brands, retailers, and agencies who, like us, embrace programmatic marketing as a powerful way to enable old-fashioned retail marketing savvy, not replace it.