Monday, December 12, 2011

Shopper Marketing - infusing or replacing traditional marketing?

These are the Shopper Marketers favourite statistics: 
  • 70% of brand selections are made at stores
  • 68% of buying decisions are unplanned
  • 5% are loyal to the brand of one product group

“Shopper marketing” experts claim that understanding consumers is not the same as understanding shoppers (consumers when they are in the shopping mode).

I don´t know... it feels like shopper marketing is simply amplifying a part of the purchase process, not creating something new. It´s great to put some light on the fact that awareness through 30 sec TVC´s is the only way to brand success, but by giving the shopper experience a whole arena of its own that is "better", I´m afraid you miss out on the value of having a holistic outlook of marketing. 

Perhaps the growth of shopper marketing is a result of that advertising agencies and strategic planners have failed in seeing how people don´t necessarily "buy" because they “see” or “like” or “prefer”. The path to purchase is more complicated than that. We might watch a TV ad and get all excited and influenced, but once in the store, another brand has a sale or looks nice or seems just as good... We might have said we attempt to buy when asked in a survey, but other parameters are steering us into the arms of another brand.

Many strategists DO fail in understanding the whole journey. They DO focus on creating stunts and brand building promotional activities, but forget to visualise the consumer when in the store, rushing around – time poor, money poor, short tempered or heartbroken. What happens then? In the second she is - or isn´t - grabbing THE box or hanger that you have been paid to point her against?

By adding some psychological insights into the strategies, and not trust quantitative research too blindly, you can make assumptions and get prepared, empathetic and insightful. Still, many planners can´t be bothered. When I work with BTL agencies they are naturally thinking of the actual interaction people have with the brand, but when working with ATL agencies this rarely happen. Ad agencies are in general too caught up in their traditional thinking (and egos) to operate outside the box. They claim to be “creative” but yeah... if it´s within the old fashioned way of being creative... The freshness can today be found in the more experiential media and BTL agencies who are getting their chance when channel choices have greater impact since people are not always to be found in front of the telly. Even the agencies who claim to be "integrated" tend to fall into the trap and produce the same old stuff as always... 

TVC´s are not the Hero marketing vehicles anymore. Instead you need to simmer through people´s lives, fill in the gaps on social media, out on the street, on the bus, in the shop, on their phones – wherever they have a second to be micro influenced. 

To have a closer look at how we feel, think and act in the shop is wise. But I don´t believe in over complicating things, and when shopper marketers in their attempt to stick out tend to create a “either or” relationship with the traditional marketing world, it is a shame. Why say you need to choose? Why replace instead of infuse?

The key is to look at the whole journey, from dream state to the physical meeting between the consumer and brand; from emotional to functional benefits; from awareness to loyalty to boredom and another spin around the wheel. When agencies can see the benefit of collaboration and clients can have the guts to force them to do so, a brand can reach the stars. As long as they fight each other no brand will reach its peak.

Call it consumer insights or shopper insights, the more you know about the people you wish to connect with, the more they will like you.

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