Mike Anthony @ engage consultants

Mike Anthony on Shopper Marketing

“Shopper Solutions” imply problems to be solved – Shouldn’t we try to delight shoppers too?

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I’ve recently re-read Booz & Co.’s new survey report on shopper marketing: “Supercharging Shopper Solution Results – Improving Returns Through Shopper Marketing and Trade Promotion Alignment”. As is often the case with Booz reports it is well put together, has some lovely statistics, and draws out a number of key points. Alignment between shopper marketing and trade promotions is critical, and whilst it is tempting to think that this conclusion was rather obvious, the report quotes some solid statistics which demonstrate that this behavior really creates value. Likewise it is encouraging that these benefits are not just the soft ones (better relationships with retailers, for example), but that they extend to hard ROI measures. What is of particular interest is the divide between two groups of companies. Most companies were seeing the soft benefits of implementing shopper marketing, but not all seemed to be yielding the hard financial benefits. A few “leaders” were seeing significantly more consistent “hard” benefits. What do these companies do differently? According to Booz’s survey results, these leaders “better manage the critical intersection of shopper marketing and trade promotion”, which in turn drives better collaboration. According to Booz, companies do this by taking three key actions:

  • Identifying the right shopper solution priorities and selecting the right retail partners
  • Aligning the sales and marketing organization behind these
  • Creating new funding and planning processes

There appears to be a lot of sense in this, and some of the data quoted bears this out. However on reading there appeared to be a couple of points that needed expanding on, as they seem to be almost overlooked in the report. Solutions infer problems and pain – is that all there is? What about shopper pleasure and delight? Prioritization of opportunities and outlets is of course critical. However, ever since their last report with the GMA Booz appear to have been developing an unhealthy fixation with “shopper solutions”. Don’t get me wrong; shopper solutions are great, but as I argue elsewhere in this blog  shopper marketing can deliver so much more. If shopper marketing is confined to merely grouping a meal solution together, then I believe its biggest opportunities have been missed. The report suggests that effective “shopper marketing programs take a problem-solution approach to driving desired shopper behaviors by addressing a focused set of shopper pain points” – That feels like such a shame!  How about pleasure points? How about delighting shoppers? Does it have to be all about pain? And herein lies the problem with the solutions mindset – there has to be a shopper problem to solve. What if there isn’t’? How does that fit with your consumer priorities? Sales and Marketing alignment needs to include the Consumer element. Booz quite rightly identify that aligning sales and marketing is critical, and make strong arguments as to the organization and efficiency benefits. As the piece moves on however the focus is on aligning shopper marketing with sales. The report does reference the opportunity for shopper marketing to form a “bridge” between consumer marketing and the rest of the commercial team. However, they suggest that the process begins with shopper insights. If this is the case then opportunities for alignment between consumer and shopper marketing, and the improvements in efficiency and effectiveness that can drive, may be missed. Aligning the opportunities to drive additional consumption with those that drive additional purchase create many additional benefits: from the alignment of activity to the reduction of activities that merely load pantries (if more purchase is focused on shoppers who will fuel additional consumption, the cupboard stays bare), as well as the massive internal efficiencies of a business which is really aligned. Lastly it opens up the possibility of developing a complete picture of brand investment – not just the shopper and trade elements, but the consumer elements as well (a situation which is essential to develop the funding and planning processes the report suggests as its third “good practice”). In an example cited in the report, Clorox discovered headroom in the gap between shoppers’ motivation to prevent sickness during cold and flu season and their likelihood to take action given pain points in the shopping experience. Where does that original shopper motivation come from? A consumption need – i.e. a need to relieve the symptoms of family sickness. Shopper insights are the bedrock of great shopper marketing. Yet focusing these on the creation of “shopper solutions” appears too narrow a focus. Further, shopper insights are often based around an understanding of shopper motivations, which in turn are so often driven by consumption needs or opportunities that the connection between consumer and shopper marketing perhaps is too obvious. Yet an approach which focuses shopper marketing alignment in the direction of the trade teams risks missing the abundant opportunities (and inherent risks) of not aligning consumer and shopper marketing priorities.

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Written by Mike Anthony

March 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm

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