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Key Takeaways:

    • Don’t Mistake Activity for Impact.

    • There is a Natural Lifecycle for Shopper Marketing.

    • Go Forward with a Map and a Sextant.

    • Overcome the Barriers to Genuine Collaboration.

    • Master Execution for Competitive Advantage.

  • 5.

    Master Execution for Competitive Advantage “Execution: The gap between what a company’s leaders want to achieve and the ability

of their organizations to deliver it.” – Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

Execution is the universal pitfall. Even the organizations with the most advanced shopper marketing operations identify execution as their Achilles’ heel. The best laid plans can fall flat if:

  • Managers won’t think beyond a traditional marketing and trade promotions mindset

  • Incentives remain misaligned

  • Companies lack the tools and data to uncover insights and measure results

  • Organizations cannot track or ensure compliance

  • Partners are not prepared to collaborate

  • Shopper marketing teams lack the right skillsets

  • Planning calendars are misaligned, and in-store programs show little integration with

out-of-store marketing efforts

  • Companies abdicate strategy to their agencies

In the end, it all comes down to execution. Organizations that execute well build their capabilities for long-term growth and generate disproportionate returns. Regardless of a company’s stage in the shopper marketing lifecycle, mastering execution requires embrac- ing a few key lessons learned:

Start with New Conversations

Despite the widespread buzz around shopper marketing, understanding and support for it has not, in all cases, filtered throughout the rest of the organization.

Many manufacturers’ marketing departments still view in-store activities as tactical and outside their domain. Traditional sales professionals tend to define shopper marketing as trade promotions. Likewise traditional retailer structures in operations, merchandising, and category management exhibit “siloed” perspectives and inhibit collaboration. New and constant conversations are needed both internally and externally to replace traditional mindsets with understanding of shopper-centric and collaborative opportunities.

Manufacturers need to start talking not only about how in-store activities can drive shelf space and sales lift, but also brand equity and cross-category lift. Shopper marketing teams need to converse with their sales and marketing colleagues about how to integrate shopper marketing into their commercial planning cycles. Likewise, retailers need to over- come the traditional buyer’s mindset and focus on differentiating the banner and generat- ing overall revenue growth. Together, effective shopper marketing requires new C-level conversations between close partners.



New Conversations are Needed


  • What role does shopper marketing play in consumer decision-making for our brands?

  • What is the appropriate mix of marketing components to drive optimal impact?

  • What is the right level of resources to dedicate to shopper marketing?

  • Which shopper marketing tactics are most effective?

  • What are the opportunities for cross-category programming?

  • How do we make shopper insights actionable?

  • Which retail partners should we target, and how do we structure ourselves to provide a seamless face to our most valuable customers?


  • How can we target our shopper marketing efforts to position ourselves in the minds of our customers?

  • How do we measure which tactics are most effective at driving banner differentiation and growth?

  • Which manufacturers are best aligned to help us strategically position ourselves?

  • Where can we work with manufacturers to strengthen our efforts and drive toward mutual interests?

  • How do we connect our shopper marketing efforts to store operations, merchandising, and category management?

  • What legacy structures, policies, and incentives get in the way?

Across Partnerships

  • Where do our interests align?

  • Where can cooperating increase competitive advantage for both of us?

  • Given our joint interests, how can we ensure that incentives are aligned?

  • How can we ensure compliance?

Change management programs and communications plans can build understanding and alignment; the communications plan should identify internal and external audiences, craft key messages for each, and define a calendar of communications.

Use the Right Metrics to Change Behavior and Create Credibility

People with traditional perspectives can resist changing past views without solid data. Companies need measures of shopper marketing effectiveness based on the language and metrics that people with traditional perspectives understand.

Executives have naturally scrutinized shopper marketing more than its traditional market- ing cousins. Shopper marketing teams are under pressure to justify budget requests, and demonstrate ROI relative to traditional marketing media. As a result, many have focused resources toward large-scale test pilots that measure the lift of comprehensive, multi- pronged shopper marketing efforts. Most can measure ROI by account and program. As shopper marketing becomes more widely proven and accepted, organizations will need to shift focus to comparing the impact of specific shopper marketing tactics and partnerships. This style of evaluation will require much more careful testing and analysis to identify cau- sality and optimize the total mix of marketing tactics.

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