Mike Anthony @ engage consultants

Mike Anthony on Shopper Marketing

Archive for the ‘Compliance’ Category

How in-store marketing affects brand equity 

with 2 comments

My last post focused on poor in-store execution and how much it was costing the industry. But what about the activity that is activated exactly as planned? Even when things are executed perfectly, do activities always deliver the highest value to our brands? I’ve seen plenty of evidence that many well-executed in-store activities don’t deliver any return on investment, and I’ve also seen plenty of evidence that some in-store activities, done in the name of shopper marketing, can have a negative impact on long term brand value too.

Before the discussion of why this happens and what to do about it, let’s take a quick tour some recent in-store horrors I have witnessed.

Olay Staircase AdsOlay – a brand to…. Kick in the face?

Here, on the staircase of an upmarket supermarket in Taiwan, even the mighty P&G makes mistakes. In an execution that probably looked great on the concept board, the Olay brand is scuffed and kicked by every passing shopper, looking a mess within days of installation. It may or may not have driven short term sales, but not what I’d want to do with a beauty brand if I were brand manager.

Barbie Cheap Ads

Barbie – you look… so cheap!

In Singapore Barbie is one of the more expensive dolls; yet here with laminated A4 sheets of paper announcing deals – concealing half of the product – you’d be hard pushed to tell. And where is this? In Toys R Us, the biggest toy retailer in Asia. (and as for executional excellence – the monitor isn’t working!)

Dove Wire BasketDove – Real Beauty – Really?

In the shadow of a billboard shouting out about a woman’s ‘real beauty’ I found this. Opening onto the sidewalk outside a chain drugstore in Tokyo, here is ‘real beauty’. In a wire basket, with a hand written discount card. And, I’m pretty sure, that the sales guys actually paid for this execution.

How do such terrible things happen to brands? Sometimes, short termism kicks in and there is a grab for short term sales. Sometimes the person who is executing this gets carried away and focuses solely on what the store will allow, without thinking about what it says about the brand. And sometimes the individual responsible for implementation is simply unaware of the impact of what they do on long term brand health. Yet these in-store executions often create far more impressions than our carefully crafted consumer communication.

Building brand equity may not be possible in every situation, but we can do our best to align, and make sure that execution doesn’t destroy hard (and expensively) won image. As in-store plans are developed, ask yourself these key questions:

How to stay true to your brand in-store

Does this support my brand equity (and do I even know what it is)? – What could be done to this execution that would make it more in line with the brand? It’s not always about building a brand in the store, but let’s make sure we’re at least supporting what we’re trying to say.

Does the brand have guidelines that must be adhered to? – In the Brand Diamond and Brand Pyramid Models which we use at engage to develop brands for clients, there is a clear statement of brand constraints: things the brand would never do, places the brand would never go. As you plan your activity, check that brand constraints are being honored. And if your brand model doesn’t describe brand constraints – perhaps it should!

How much of this is about what the retailer wants, and how much is about what is right for the brand? – Whilst we clearly need retail support, and alignment is a great, the retailer’s needs and constraints should not be the starting point. What is good for the brand should be the start; from there compromises can be charted, and blocked or mitigated where appropriate.

It’s not all about short term sales – We all know the pressure to hit the short term numbers; I’ve been there myself too often. But unless we can honestly say the impact of the activity on brand equity is at least neutral in the long term (it doesn’t have to be perfect), and that we’ve considered all practical alternatives, then we really aren’t trying hard enough.

Shoppers see our brands in stores every day. Poor compliance prevents our carefully crafted activities having the impact that they should. And a lack of strategic thought creates activities which needlessly damage our brands. Everything we do communicates. Everything sends a message. A brand manager who doesn’t take accountability for the entire brand is arguably not managing that brand. Her remit does not stop at the door to the store. More than ever there is a need for a Total Marketing solution, which ensures that brand guardianship covers everything we do. If you think your brand needs a Total Marketing approach, then drop me a line and let’s talk.


Written by Mike Anthony

May 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Why Is Excellent In-store Execution So Elusive?

with 16 comments

Whether you are in marketing or sales, poor in-store execution is a problem of nightmare proportions: all of the planning, the late nights, the negotiations, the blood sweat, tears and dollars that go into making a brilliant piece of work come to this: did it actually happen in the store in the way it was supposed to? And in far too many cases, the answer is no.

Why Is Excellent In-store Execution So Elusive?Across most of the world compliance is an enormous problem. POPAI suggested that in the UK it was around 50% and heading downwards, and that this may be costing the industry in the UK alone something in the region of US$600 million. I hear anecdotally in the US of rates in some chains in the low thirty percent range.  All that effort, and perhaps half of the shoppers (or maybe more) that were supposed to see the activity, don’t get a chance.

How did we get here? How in this world of collaboration, of integrated systems, and of real time data, are we still in a situation where the industry finds it difficult to set up a display, or put a product on a shelf, or fix a sign in a specific place for a specific period of time. The reasons are complex and many: and I’m sure I won’t be able to pick them all up here; but there are a few things that can be done which, in my experience, consistently improve the situation.

Key actions to improve in-store execution – guaranteed

Incentivize good compliance

The fact that retailers make money as much from fees as they do from sales creates a very perverse situation. In some store audits we have made, over 10% of the entire range in the store is out of stock. For many businesses this would be a shocking statistic as it suggests that customer satisfaction is poor.  Large retailers are insulated f (at least financially) in part by the fees they get from manufacturers, which for some retailers is the difference between profit and loss. Whilst I would never claim that retailers do not care about shoppers, the fact that much of their profit comes from a completely different source perhaps allows a level of sloppiness that might not be permissible in any other industry.

The solution? Increase the percentage of fees paid to be based on a pay for performance basis. We’ve worked with some companies where over 50% of their trade spend is unconditional – that is to say, the retailer gets paid regardless of what they do. Making payments conditional upon execution where possible would be a great first step to rewarding compliance and creating a focus on this.

Make sure what you want is possible

Too often ideas are developed by agencies that aren’t necessarily aware of what is and isn’t allowed in the retailer. Whilst I would never advocate limiting all of our thinking to what retailers will allow (we should push the envelope where it adds massive value), knowing where the boundaries lie and making sure that the agency understands that to break out of this would require special returns is a great start. And this means, marketers, a really good brief that really explains the retail reality. Few marketers on either the client side or the agency side have worked in retail – but this retail reality needs to be baked into the activity from the start.

Motivate ALL of the key people

Whilst the buyer is key to any retail relationship – it is not the buyer who actually does stuff. Logistics, operations, marketing: a whole raft of other people in the retail business are involved, and retail is a people intensive business. Understanding the needs of all of these people in the process, and ensuring that there needs are met, considered and addressed will always help with compliance. A good sales person will make sure her pitch meets the buyer’s needs. A great sales person will have a pitch for all of the departments and will either deliver this personally, or will arm the buyer with enough so that he can persuade these people on her behalf.

Do fewer things

The number of activities being executed at retail continues to rise. The number of staff in stores does not (in many cases it has gone down). I don’t have any data on this but it stands to reason that too many activities may well affect the quality of that execution. Doing fewer, more important activities and promotions might allow teams across the business to focus on what really is important.

Measure and monitor

Lastly, if it is important, measure it. Checking that things happened the way they were supposed to and then making changes to future actions to improve lies at the heart of everything. Too often marketers are too busy getting on this the next activity to check how the previous one went (which goes back to the point above).

The situation is complicated for sure. If it was simple someone would have cracked it by now. By addressing these key five things however marketers and key account managers can immediately make their scarce resources go further and deliver an immediate improvement in Return on Investment. I’m sure there are many other factors, and many other solutions – please share these so that we can all make progress towards better in-store execution.

Written by Mike Anthony

May 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

Posted in Compliance, In-Store

%d bloggers like this: