Focused efforts yield superior relevance and top of mind awareness with retailers
Example Shopper Marketing Positioning Questions
What do I want to be known for?
Which consumer trends will most impact my business?
What products/categories are most important to me?
Where can I draw unique insights?
Which shopper missions can I drive at retail?
What do I want to be known for?
Which consumer trends are most relevant to my shoppers?
How do I want to differentiate my banners?
Which shopper segments do I want to target?
What shopper experience do I want to provide?
Many of the organizations we spoke to are also grasping for a place in the shopper marketing landscape to “own.” The most effective retailers have developed a platform to position their banners in the minds of shoppers. All retailers want to win, but approach the market in different ways. For example, some position themselves around innovation in customer experience, while others offer cost/value leadership. Likewise, forward looking manufacturers differentiate themselves by owning a specific area of the shopper marketing space and dialogue. Unilever, for instance, targets trip management, building its relevance to retailers by helping them understand how to make the most of each shopper’s visit to their store.
As more manufacturers and retailers establish satisfying collaborative relationships, it will become increasingly difficult for late comers to find room to play. Organizations slow to stake a claim may quickly find their source of competitive advantage gone. Leading com- panies conduct a quick inventory, draw conclusions, and act.
Unilever Carves Out its Space in Shopper Marketing
There are a myriad of emerging trends, retailer needs, shopper segments, and mission types in the industry. An individual manufacturer cannot compete everywhere, so how does it focus its efforts and find relevance with retailers in order to spur collaborative development?
“We want to approach retailers on a platform basis, so as not to overwhelm them with inconsistent ideas or ad hoc programs.” – Unilever
Leading practice companies select a differentiating platform that connects to their strategy, and then invest in insights and programs to fit that framework.
Unilever, as a major piece of its platform, has decided that they can own the role as advisor to retailers on Trip Management. For the past several years, Unilever has developed and deployed analysis and insights on shopper segments and trends through the lens of Trip Management, the tactical usage of in-store mar- keting pieces (e.g., product assortment) to make the retail environment a solution to shoppers’ specific trip missions. Unilever 2008 report “Winning Shoppers in Turbulent Times,” for example, focused on how economic conditions are impacting various shopper segments. The report delivers analysis on how shopping tactics of key shopper segments are changing (by category) in response to current economic conditions, and what retailers can do to adapt. For instance, lower income shoppers are increasing their pre-shop planning around meals, so retailers can improve their relevance with those shoppers by using cir- culars that focus on simple, value-oriented meal ideas. Through these reports, and account-specific deep dives, Unilever is developing thought leadership for a portion of the shopper marketing dialogue between retailers and manufacturers.
Ownership of this space provides Unilever with top of mind awareness in the retail community. As their retail partners identify opportunities for shopper marketing that intersect with Unilever’s strategic priorities, they are more likely to turn to Unilever for help in developing the next major Shopper marketing program.
Source: 2008 GMA/Deloitte Shopper Marketing Study Interview; City University’s 2006 Food Industry Report; Unilever rip Management Report 2008, “Winning Shoppers in urbulent imes;” The Hub; Reuters
Shopper insights form the base of effective shopper marketing initiatives
Step 2: Prepare for the Journey
As critical as it is to define a company’s target positioning, it is also critical to ensure that it has the infrastructure to execute. Proper infrastructure facilitates a learning organization that is able to experiment and continuously improve its shopper marketing efforts.
As companies progress through the shopper marketing lifecycle, their infrastructure devel- opment priorities adjust and grow. For example, promoting an environment that fosters experimentation is crucial for companies that are incubating their shopper marketing programs. When these companies begin to scale, they develop more deliberate metrics and disciplined processes to evaluate and optimize their shopper marketing portfolio. To maintain momentum and avoid plateau at critical inflection points, companies need to cre- ate a deliberate plan for how they will address the challenges unique to their stage in the lifecycle. This plan of action should not only outline the organization’s activities, but also direct how to help partners and agencies progress through the lifecycle.
Together, a company’s targeted positioning and action plan should guide organizational investments of time and money.
A Word on Shopper Insights
Shopper insights are not only a critical component of strategy development but also in the choice of in-store tactics. The magnitude of available insights can become daunting to manage, expensive to produce, and increasingly more complex to commercialize. The development of shopper insights is often the first step and biggest investment made as an organization becomes more shopper-centric. It is often the most challenging, too. To mitigate some of the confusion over shopper insights, they are best viewed in tiers mapped to the business objectives they aim to solve.
Market Wide Planning: How shoppers behave across channels and formats.
Collaborative Customer Planning: How shoppers behave within a particular banner and the behaviors of various shopper segments within that banner.
In-Store Tactic Development/Selection: How various segments respond to different marketing stimuli.
Success comes when shopper insights and consumer insights are integrated and a scalable platform is developed for their application across the organization. Viewing the shopper from the vantage point of how they live, how they shop, and how they ultimately use the product is an effective tool for driving this integration. Effective strategy is developed when these two sources of insight are harmonized.
Done well – shopper insights should:
Align consumption and use occasions with shopping mindsets
Reflect shoppers’ in-home and in-store experiences
Build on shoppers’ brand and category experiences
Ensure that the desired brand cues are triggered during the shopping experience
Be relevant beyond basic demographics and life stages that reflect causal understanding
Deliver more targeted and integrated communications
Create actionable strategies and tactics that deliver profitable volume