Mike Anthony @ engage consultants

Mike Anthony on Shopper Marketing

The Most Important Trait In A Shopper Marketer? Consistency

with 7 comments

“Puppies are not for Christmas, they are for life… “

An old adage, but one that springs to mind when I think about shopper marketing. Shopper marketers have many opportunities to create exciting campaigns; but it isn’t the big, dazzling ‘one-offs’ that best represent the relationship between a brand and a shopper. The shopper-brand relationship isn’t a steamy “one night stand” – it’s more akin to an old married couple who are comfortable with each other. Shopper marketers need to ensure that they are up to serving their target market week in, week out.

The shopper-brand relationship is one built up from many tiny interactions, and the most important part of that relationship? Shoppers don’t always want to be excited, thrilled, or even engaged. What they really want, is not to be let down. And unfortunately marketers, customer managers, and retailers conspire to let down shoppers on a weekly basis. We forget, as we plan our campaigns, that it is what happens, day in day out, on the home shelf that really matters. As shopper marketers, we must be prepared to manage the minutiae of every day shopping, as that is what serves our target market best.

Good execution is only great if it’s consistent

Good Execution & Bad Execution

Good Execution & Bad Execution

A while back I blogged about a lovely in-store execution by Schwartz – the herbs and spice people. I loved this execution because it seemed to me to go to the heart of what shopper marketing is: a smart marketing mix designed to change shopping behavior in a way that also drives incremental consumption. That was then. Recently I returned to the aisles of Sainsbury, that same retailer, and was confronted with this: badly managed, badly maintained, and just plain awful. How many shopper impressions did this create? I suspect that this creates more ‘standout’ on shelf than the original execution – creating plenty of awareness but perhaps not the engagement or brand impact that was designed. Not sure what had happened, but somebody (or many people) had taken their eye off the ball.

Shoppers hit the shelves every week, and that means that what we present to them every week is critical.

What can we do to improve the chances of our shoppers not being let down when they get there?

Availability rules

The most important thing to a shopper is to be able to buy what they want to buy, when they want to buy it. Every campaign, every shelf layout, every promotion, must have availability metrics and checks built into it. If there is a chance that your activity may have an adverse effect on availability, then this needs to be planned for, or the activity should be dropped.

Go to stores

I’ve said it many times, but there really is no excuse for not spending time in-stores and seeing what shoppers see. You can never spend too much time in stores.

Invest in compliance checking.

If the activity is worth doing, it’s worth making sure it is done properly. If you don’t know what it is that confronts shoppers then it’s impossible to understand what is going on.  Technology is bringing down the costs of compliance tracking all the time – consider what efforts you can make to ensure that what you envisaged and what shoppers actually see are actually the same thing.

Partner with retailers

Spending time in every store, every week isn’t going to be practical, and extensive compliance tracking is still going to be beyond the reach of many brands. But the retailer has people in the store every day of every week – and this execution has just as much negative impact on the retailer as it does on the brand in terms of image and shopper satisfaction. Engaging with retailers to ensure that the shoppers you share are served well should be part of your agenda.

Cut back on promotions

Promotions are the enemy of availability. They make forecasting harder, and they often create secondary stock points at retail making it harder to ascertain the actual stock at any one point. On store visits we regularly see that the majority of out of stocks are on promoted items.

Maintain and sustain

If there is a permanent installation (as with Schwartz) then it needs funds and people to audit, maintain and sustain it. If that isn’t built into your budget, then the activity should be culled.

Clean up after yourself

For temporary installations, then there needs to be a plan to clean up. If you can’t afford to maintain a display properly, then take it down. Plan to put things back where they were. Tidy up. Don’t disappoint those shoppers you’ve just wooed.

Our goal as marketers is to build, sustain and maintain long relationships with our target shoppers and consumers. If we are to make that happen, we need to be consistent and deliver what we promise day in and day out. If we can’t do that, we really don’t deserve them in the first place, do we?


Written by Mike Anthony

June 13, 2013 at 5:15 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Spot on Mike, i will conform you on the point about partnering with retailers. At the end of day we only have limited amount of time in the store compare to the store/retailer attendant and they have many things and products they have to look out for. By building a healthy relationship with them, they are usually willing to keep an eye on our products despite of our products may not be their main sales contributor.



    June 14, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    • Hi Mario,

      Thanks for this point well made: everybody is busy, so everybody has to prioritize… The challenge therefore is to try and persuade others to prioritize what we want them to.

      And, in all this, to be honest with ourselves. If we can’t persuade retailers to support, and we can’t do it ourselves – then it appears that it isn’t a priority for us or them – which does beg the question – why are we doing it?

      Thanks for contributing!


      Mike Anthony

      June 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm

  2. Very smart article. Sometimes when I’m in a bad mood I’ll read your posts to cheer myself back up. 🙂

    Chip Hoyt

    June 18, 2013 at 8:14 am

  3. Dear Mike, How FMCG companies are managing or monitoring imitative and duplicate products from local manufactures?


    June 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    • Dear Kamal,
      Thanks for the question: the answer is quite long and depends on the situation.

      When I was working heavily in China our sales team were our main ‘monitors’ – and then we contracted a law company to handle issues (we had lots!)

      If you want more information, let me know and I’ll contact you via email.

      All the best and thanks for your question.


      Mike Anthony

      June 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm

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