Why is demonstrating the value of shopper marketing so painful?



Why is demonstrating the value of shopper marketing so painful?

Joel Hopwood / Co-founder

I was at the IGD recently and caught up with an old colleague who’d made the leap from agency to client-side in one of the biggest consumer goods companies in the UK. She thought being Head of Shopper Marketing would combine the best bits of agency life – cool ideas, variety and fast pace – with a more long-term, meaningful relationship with the brands we both loved. So why the pained face when I asked how it was going?

“We have a real problem in the business” she said. “Everyone else has a clear remit, mandate and measures for success, and we just sort of sit in the middle. No one seems to be able to land a killer blow for shopper marketing. How exactly do you establish the value of shopper marketing so the business takes it as seriously as it does brand marketing or retailer relationships?”

My first reaction was that this was a 3-pint problem, not a bad conference coffee problem. Nevertheless it triggered me to write down some of the things that clients that do it well have in common, and some of the mistakes and pitfalls that will stop you getting to success.

Keep calm and be confident

In some organisations shopper marketing is treated as trade support with lip gloss. It’s more about the trade than the shopper, and more about cardboard than marketing. But believe it or not, for any fmcg brand it’s actually the single most important part of the marketing plan. After all, the store, whether online or physical, is the only touchpoint that every single user of your brand will experience. That can be difficult to remember when you’re drinking lattes in a chrome and glass agency sanctum with awards lining the shelves but it remains true. If you get the store right, the return on all your other spend will be transformed.

Shopper marketers are the link between sales and marketing. So steal from both.

There are 3 fundamental sources of benefit from a successful shopper marketing campaign. To demonstrate the value you need to understand all 3 (which is easy) and then understand how the hell you’re going to track and measure them in your business (which can be incredibly painful).

First and foremost shopper marketing is marketing. It involves delivering a communication to the target audience to cause them to buy. The fundamentals of any communications is reach and frequency and the resulting currency is impressions. This can and should be understood at a campaign element level and tracked side-by-side with your ATL media plan including TV, out of home and experiential. It’s easy to do with a 6 Sheet poster and harder with a barker, but still possible. You need to understand the cost-per-thousand (CPM) of every campaign element at the planning stage, and how that is contributing to the overall media plan and, hopefully, outperforming traditional media channels in delivering reach.

Secondly, shopper marketing is investment in your customers. Nothing else on the marketing plan does this. Every plan should be created in tiers, and presented as part of commercial negotiations. The two levers for the brand are increased profit for the retailer from media revenues and possible exclusivity (of product, variant or campaign) for the retailer. By leveraging shopper investment against secondary display, the smart shopper marketer can unlock huge amounts of value before a poster has even been printed.

Finally, shopper marketing should “activate” people, actually make them buy. Shouldn’t all marketing? Well yes but shopper happens in the store so can be measured. Any activity that is not estate-wide should be evaluated against a control group of stores with the same configuration of range and space but without the marketing activity. Automated access to scanned EPOS data makes this easy (if you have the right tools) but many organisations do not do it.


A successful shopper marketing campaign generates value in 3 ways. Firstly it makes a measurable contribution to the media plan, usually at far lower CPMs than traditional media can. Secondly, it can help unlock distribution or secondary display that can transform your sales performance. And finally it makes shopper pick up your brand and not the competition’s.

So much for the theory. But how do you actually measure and track against these metrics? Although the data for Part 3 (the sales bit) is readily available, thorough analysis of it often means working with a third party partner. For most brands, their team analyst is stacked and doesn’t have the time to be looking at in-depth store level analyses of shopper media campaigns. It’s crucial that the methodology is right (building decent sets of test and control stores) and that the output provides a centralised view across the grocery market.

To successfully track 1 and 2 requires working with the marketing and sales teams. We’ll lay out the right process to follow in next week’s post.

For more information on how to track the performance of your campaigns more accurately please contact Capture via hello@capturemarketing.co.uk