Once upon a time, newspaper circulars and static-filled messages broadcast over store speaker systems represented the cutting edge of shopper marketing. You had to think and decide for yourself what to buy and where to buy it. Those days are long gone.
Today shopper marketing happens in real time, across multiple marketing channels, and it’s always lurking around the corner. Shoppers are in the crosshairs whether they’re being hit by a retargeting banner ad after leaving an e-commerce site or pinged by a geo-located push notification on their mobile phone as they walk by a favorite shop with a clearance sale happening.
The heartbeat of today’s shopper marketing is what is called “programmatic advertising.” At a high-level, this tactic involves collecting shopper data, drawing insights and then delivering deals instantly. According to eMarketer.com, programmatic advertising will reach $20 billion next year.
The circular isn’t dead. In-store announcements advertising specials on aisle three will still exist. But they’ll work together with these new channels and tactics to personalize the consumer shopping experience like never before.
The Way I See It:
- Brands are no longer content to allow stores to place, promote, and manage their merchandise. The tops brands are working closer and closer with stores to create exclusive new lines and offerings to build better relationships with consumers.
- Social shopping is the next big thing in shopper marketing. In fact, it’s already happening on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.
- If you don’t have a local focus on your shopper marketing, you’re missing out. A one-size-fits-all approach to messaging to messaging for all locations is sure to fail.
- Get ready for more. Not only are marketing departments finding new ways to reach shoppers, but they’re increasing their volume, too. Nearly 48% of companies planned to increase shopper marketing budgets in 2015, according to Shopper Marketing Magazine.
The Way the Industry Sees It
I sat down with Matt Egol, a Principal at PwC, and Chief Strategy Officer for the Digital Services team, to talk about the evolution of shopper marketing as the holiday shopping season unfolds.
How do companies maintain the right balance in targeting consumers through evolved shopper marketing programs? In other words, how can they be seen as convenient and cutting edge as opposed to intrusive and uninvited?
Shopper marketing lives at key intersections with other disciplines that together define and deliver a world class customer experience, and needs to be part of a holistic approach for human-centered design of physical and digital experiences. It intersects content marketing, eCommerce, mobile payments and loyalty, and advertising innovation, which all play a role in delivering quality experiences before, during and after the store trip. Taking a more design centric approach that focuses on how shopper marketing can drive business results focused on the right moments in the customer experience is key to get the balance right. That’s why I’m so excited to work with our Experience Center at PwC that combines talent across strategy for loyalty, search and social with designers for UX and UI, as well as with emerging tech and data scientists to drive agile test and learn for new physical and digital experiences.
What is the first step to creating an omni-channel shopper marketing program if your current program is disjointed and antiquated?
Start with the user, building insights into how to build an emotional connection with the consumer-shopper at the right points in the end-to-end experience. Don’t start with the lines and boxes in the organization. Use prioritization of where to drive rapid prototyping and more scalable approaches to increase alignment in the organization against the right value creating opportunities.
What are some of the brands considered to be the top innovators of shopper marketing? What are they doing that’s different?
There are many companies, such as Coca-Cola, P&G and ConAgra that are highly innovative marketers and are effective in building a strong emotional connection with consumer-shoppers around key occasions and life moments. Companies like these, as well as others, are developing stronger owned media assets to engage consumer-shoppers around content solutions, both on their own assets, as well as leveraging insights and content from their own assets to enhance collaboration with retailers. They are also building more scalable approaches for advertising and promotions that drive up the ROI from retailer collaboration. For example, some are leveraging content from retailer circulars to develop analytically targeted approaches to insert branded content into digital display and search ads that also tag the retailer’s brand, creating a win-win-win for the brand, the retailer and shoppers.
Mobile and social media appear to becoming increasingly popular channels for shopper because of the real-time messaging they allow for. How do you see these channels continuing to drive consumer behavior in the coming years?
Leading marketers already take a mobile first approach to designing the user experience. Leaders are also increasingly focused on leveraging analytics and more technology enabled approaches for agile test and learn for content optimization such as next best assortment and next best offer. This is part of a journey towards greater personalization of content-based experiences, which are heavily skewed to mobile and social given consumer-shopper behavior.
What’s the most interesting object in your office?
It’s a mixed media piece of artwork (layering original printmaking, collage, and painting) from my mom, Nancy Nikkal. While I’m not an artist myself, I greatly enjoy working closely with creative people as part of our Digital Services team. It’s fun to fuse business + creativity as part of the work we do with clients to reimagine their businesses and drive strategy through execution!