So much more than in-store…


Thought piece:

Shopper: So much more than cardboard in store…

Emma Dean, Group Client Director

It is widely accepted among FMCGs that shopper media is a fundamental part of a brand’s overall marketing campaign.  To put it bluntly; it’s cost effective, it’s measurable and in a fragmented advertising landscape this is the one place that brands know their shoppers are guaranteed to be at some point in time if they are going to buy your product.

The challenge, however, is that the options brands consider often gets reduced to nothing more than ‘cardboard in store’.  Don’t get me wrong, this prolific cardboard has its rightful place in shopper campaigns; it has proven to deliver significant sales uplift at both SKU and brand level time and time again.  However, to truly deliver an effective shopper campaign, brands need to broaden their horizons to consider the wider choice of media available and be smart on how to utilise this media to influence shopper behaviour.

The reality is the way shoppers are shopping has changed and digital channels play a huge part in our shopping journey – consciously or not.

The question is, how should ‘shopper media’ be defined?  Quite simply, it is any media that can directly influence a shopper’s decision-making process. 

That means that the media should:

  • target ‘the shopper’ e. have an influence on the purchase decision as part of the shopper journey
  • carry a relevant shopper call to action
  • be measurable against shopper objectives

The number of media options that tick all these boxes has doubled in the last 5 years alone. 

Firstly, consider the world of digital; programmatic mobile media such as that provided by Blis, can target shoppers not only by demographic and behaviour but also when they are in (or in proximity to) the store.  Away from the physical store, we can also consider online opportunities through the likes of Amazon – somewhere we know many shoppers start their path to purchase; providing rich shopper targeting capabilities for which we can measure not only the click through to purchases online but also, and more importantly, the direct ROPO (research online, purchase offline) impact the channel has within each retailer.

A quarter of all our clients’ shopper media spend now goes in to digital media channels, compared to just 8% three years ago, reflecting the pace at which brands are recognizing the importance these channels have in their shopper plans.

Similarly, as marketeers we need to reconsider the way we approach OOH channels. A large proportion of these sites are actually very close to a store; however, they have only ever been considered to deliver against awareness objectives.  Advances in targeting capabilities and the ability to directly correlate the impact of these channels with sales in stores means these too satisfy our definition of shopper media.

Blurred lines?

A question we often hear shopper marketers pondering is “but shouldn’t these channels be managed by brand?”

As shopper marketeers, we need to be confident in understanding the benefits of executing these channels within a shopper campaign; reduced budget wastage through smarter targeting, cost efficiencies through booking media cross retailer and the ability to deliver a branded shopper call to action without retailer templates or restrictions, for example are all but a few. 

The other challenge FMCGs face is the retailer’s desire for the brands to only book retailer owned media i.e. those that directly hit their bottom line.  Ultimately, smart retailers recognize that when considering all available media, brands can deliver a more effective campaign that might incorporate a mixture of retailer owned and privately-owned media which in turn will deliver a greater sales uplift and sustainable growth for both brand and retailer long term.

How do you currently plan shopper campaigns? Are they restricted to the retailer’s own media toolkits or has your thinking evolved with shopper behaviour? Let us know


Sources / Links (numbered references):

It’s not new news that as a nation we’re becoming savvier with our spending – whether that be because we must due to squeezed incomes and inflationary costs, or because we’re more clued up on the value of products and when there will be a promotion on. The reality is the retail landscape has changed, and particularly so in grocery.

Discounters and grocery retailers are rationalising ranges to focus on fewer brands and more own label sales. Supermarkets are now offering cheaper own label versions in nearly every category, from breakfast cereals to after-dinner chocolates and condiments. They’ve capitalised on a growing shopper trend and realised that it brings in more margin.

What’s more, with an increased public spotlight on brand comparison (including retailer own brand) through TV shows like ‘Shop well for less’, the nation is becoming more educated on what they should look out for when grocery shopping. They’re nowtrained not to shop on assumptions based purely on price i.e. a higher price doesn’t always mean a superior quality product.

As a result, shoppers are becoming more accepting of unknown brands and private label. This is forcing many FMCG brands to rethink their shopper marketing strategies to ensure they get the all-important sale at the point of purchase.

It’s no longer enough to just leverage a price promotion to entice a shopper to buy your brand over another – in some cases own label or products from the discounters are cheaper still and  the competition is also on promotion. In fact, the number of promotions in supermarkets fell to a 10-year low last year[1] and retailers and brands are replacing these short-term tactics to drive sales with a focus on campaigns that encourage shoppers to believe in the brand based on product and brand merits.

You have to prove your brand has one-up on an own label product through a clear and compelling reason to buy. Shoppers have to believe the value they are getting from choosing your brand outweighs the expense. Value, in this situation, can mean a solution to a problem, added value to a shopper or their family’s lifestyle or even gratification from the product itself.

[1] Marketing Week ‘Discounts disappearing from supermarket shelves as promotions fall to 10 year low’ Aug 2017