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Be The First To Try This New Learning Experience – Complimentary Access

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Dear blog,

We’re excited to be launching Shopper Marketing Experts: the world’s first online learning community in this space.

Shopper Marketing Experts is designed to help anyone in the consumer goods industry, and those working for agencies in this space, improve their understanding and knowledge. It is packed full of content, and there are plenty of opportunities to interact.

We’re launching with a free webinar next week: sign up now and get a month’s access to the community, so you can try it out.

Please feel free to share this with anyone you think might benefit.

All the best – do let me know if you have any questions.

All the best,



Written by Mike Anthony

February 2, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

What To Do About Big Data

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Many marketers have historically been rather spoilt from a data availability point of view. Whilst I know that many marketers out there survive with virtually no real data, on the whole the consumer marketing guys have always had more than their fair share. Even the most data starved marketer is typically feasting at the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet compared to what trade marketers and key account managers might feed on in the same organization.

Big Data Overload

The world, or at least parts of it, is changing. More data is available than ever before. Social media is creating masses of data for consumer marketers to feed on, data sourced from retail point of sale and loyalty cards is finally bringing balance to the rest of the organization. Some managers probably slaver at the prospect, many I know quake in their boots. Whilst large organizations have the capability to create armies of analysts to sort through all of this, the smaller ones are much more challenged: Big data is changing the world of marketing in consumer goods – handing information is seen by CMOs as one of the biggest priorities for the future  – so how should companies handle it?

How do I cope with all this data and what should I pay for?

High levels of data availability is arguably a good situation, but badly managed it can create chaos. Insight managers who actually spend 95% of their time crunching data, may not actually be spending enough time on creating genuine insight. Data crunching is daunting for many, and without a clear methodology to get through it all and create real insight at the end of the process; data paradigms are a looming danger: the data becomes everything, and everything else falls away. In other words, data actually narrows the view of the world rather than widening it. Expectations run high: be it from the CFO who is funding all of this, or from retailers who are sharing their data and expecting some return. This puts pressure on to produce, not quality, but quantity. Reports, analyses, more data (or the same data in a different way).

So if big data is “good” but it has lots of danger attached to its incorrect use, what should consumer and shopper marketers do about it? 

Stop: Don’t go and get more data until you know what you are going to do with it. The expectations to create something (anything) from it, will rapidly outweigh the value it could create. The need to manage the data will rapidly become a task in and of itself.

Work out what you really need to know: Clear specific knowledge gaps create a much more specific brief, against which big data options can be weighed with other options.

Go back and review what you already have first: Most organizations use only a fraction of the data they currently have. There are many reasons for this, explored extensively here : but investing time and / or money in more data when existing data is not being exploited will rapidly reduce the ROI from these activities.

There’s no such thing as a free database: Free data isn’t free. Even if you get it ‘for free’ someone needs to manage it, and analyze it, and make reports. Someone (at least some of the time) has to read those reports. Further, data is sourced from someone: they have put effort in and, if there is no return, eventually they will quit. At an obvious level, a retailer who supplies data to a manufacturer does so with (either explicit or implicit) expectations that the manufacturer will do something with that data which will add value to the retailer and create a return. Every consumer investing in a brand relationship via social media, expects some return.

Review regularly: Once you are started, check frequently and regularly to establish what the returns are. Those reports that are being run – are they adding value? Our star insight manager: are they actually spending enough time thinking, or are they too busy crunching?

Focus on the outcome: Having lots of data creates bills, it doesn’t pay them. Analysis does not create value. It is the insight which, upon implementation, creates value. Measure not the fabulous facts you now have, but the value which can be directly attributed to it (‘without that data we would never have…”). If you haven’t used that sentence about a particular source of data, question why you still have it.

Big Data is clearly a blessing: but managed badly it is a Pandora’s box of a curse.  It is impossible to avoid, and a clear strategy on how to handle it, how to get the best out of it, and how to deliver a meaningful ROI from the investment will mark out the most successful marketers over the next decade. 

How are you approaching this challenge? Which data is most useful and valuable to your organization? What has been a complete waste of time and money? 

Written by Mike Anthony

November 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Posted in Big Data, ROI, Uncategorized

Shopper Marketing – The Fear Factor

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Marketers of every type spend a lot of money creating conditions so that, really, people should really love to buy our brands.

Consumer marketers create awesome products which consumers tell us are just perfect for their needs

Shopper marketers analyze the intricacies of the path to purchase, consider all of the touch points, and then spend lots of money making everything just so at the point of purchase.

Key account managers negotiate their hearts out to make it happen in the store.

But it doesn’t.  For some reason sometimes those shoppers don’t buy.

Understanding why is arguably the biggest question in shopper marketing, and the one that has the biggest repercussions for marketing in general, and the consumer goods industry.

Unpicking the barriers to purchase open up revenue and profit; create the opportunity for new shopping and consumption habits.

We’ve tried so hard. What went wrong?

Putting aside compliance (discussed at length before) there are many barriers that will prevent a purchase. One that we’ve started to uncover more and more in some of the projects we have been running around the world is fear.

Fear – If love of a product is the holy grail of consumer marketers, then it should be no surprise that fear is the biggest obstacle. Fear comes in many forms, and heightens proportionately to the actual and perceived risk. Brands are all about allaying risk, but if we don’t overcome the key elements of fear then it is not a surprise when shoppers don’t buy. Whilst fear occurs in lots of places on the path to purchase it is at the point of purchase that the fear is most heightened: as this is where risk becomes real.

Monetary risk – Perhaps most obviously, monetary risk is a large player here. When a shopper reaches that point of decision, the bigger the price, the bigger the risk, the more important moentary risk is. But for many situations, particularly in the world of grocery, the monetary risk is quite small. The chance of the money being completely wasted is quite small too. Even if (for example) a new variant of coffee doesn’t really deliver its taste promise, the chances are it will still get used. A second jar may not be bought, but the money isn’t actually wasted.

Which leads us to fear number two:

Fear of disappointment – Disappointment has many guises, but its most common is that the danger the product simply doesn’t deliver. We’ve all tried new products and all had that experience where it simply didn’t live up to our expectations. As a shopper stands at the fixture, the point of consumption is, strangely, brought to life in the shopper’s mind. If there is doubt that this brand will deliver what is promised at the point of consumption, the sale may not be made.

Closely related to the fear of disappointment, is Fear of being gullible – The fear that we might be taken for a ride, be sucked in by a marketing promise and end up buying something we really never should have done. As a shopper when faced with a deal that feels to good to be true, there is sometimes a doubting voice that recalls previous errors of judgement with brands that promised so much and let us down.

Fear of loss of face – The final fear is often the biggest:  Not surprising in this socially connected world, shoppers care what others think. If a brand may not meet with the approval of our peers or our partners,  then any emotional promise the brand has is weakened. In particular where the brand benefits depend on the response of peers (a successful meal, or a new pair of sneakers) then doubt at this point can scupper an otherwise perfect deal.

Whilst fear is by no means the only barrier to purchase, shopper marketing campaigns should consider the fear factor, and develop an understanding of what these fears are – and then to create stimulus which will in some way allay these. Consumer goods marketing can learn from the broader world of marketing. If fear is at the heart of why shoppers aren’t buying, then once we know which type of fear it is, we can respond appropriately:

  • If the fear is genuinely monetary in nature, then a money back guarantee may be effective.
  • If the fear is product functionality, then sampling or trial can work.
  • If the shoppers cares little about the community a social based message may be less effective than if the shopper really cares about the opinion of others in this category.
  • If the fear is “community face” – then is there anything that could be done with social (x % of your friends “like” this)? Different tools, for different barriers.

Unpicking the barriers, unpicking the root causes of the fears that prevent a purchase. Is fear preventing your brands from flying?

Written by Mike Anthony

September 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm

1 Thing You Need To Measure To Guarantee An Improvement In Marketing ROI….(Continued)

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In a store recently I saw a fabulous case of terrible in-store execution. I wished I’d had this picture when I wrote my recent blog post on compliance. I have no idea how this happened – there are lots of factors that could have contributed –  but here is a potential (and completely fictional) scenario which I know many of you will find all too familiar.


Scene One: 

A Conference Room – This morning. 

The CEO sits with the head of marketing, and the head of sales. No-one smiles

CEO – “What went wrong?”

Marketing Head – “It was sales”

Sales Head – “It was marketing”


Flashback – The same conference room six months ago 

A research agency presents to the marketing team

“83% of our target consumers say they would definitely or probably buy this new product”

The Marketing Director smiles: “This will be our biggest activity of the year”


Flashback:  A Conference Room – a few months ago.

The advertising agency is presenting to the marketing team 

“It’s a 360 campaign. It follows the consumer all the way to the point of purchase (pause), the “First moment of truth” (presenter makes air speech marks with his fingers)”


Flashback: Scene Three: A week ago.

Tracking agency presents to marketing team

“We got the awareness, everyone loved it. Our Brand preference is sky high” (two people high five)


Flashback:  Scene four:

At a desk, key account manager:

“Got the highest sell-in ever for a new launch. Awesome. Bonus here I come”


Flashback Scene Five: Yesterday.

Marketing head looks at latest share report.

“Our share has dived. It must be…. Competitors? Were competitors doing anything at the time? (someone across the table shrugs). “I blame sales” I bet they screwed up execution.


Return to present day.

“What went wrong?”

“It was sales – they screwed up the listing”

“It was marketing – their advertising was too light”

It could have been either. But perhaps the marketing team did exactly what was expected of them. Perhaps the sales team did too.

Or perhaps it was attention to detail. Perhaps someone missed something.  Perhaps if the KPIs for marketing and sales had been different someone would have made sure what was supposed to have happened actually happened.

When things go wrong like this, all of the investment is immediately turned into cost. It’s not just a waste of listing fees and point of sale materials – but all of the above the line campaigning is potentially wasted. In the case above it is clear why share is down – no-one can find the product –  but too often these scenarios play out and no-one actually knows what happened; even knows that there was a problem – because nobody went to the store to check the actual situation.

In a workshop this week I asked a client (a cross-functional team of sales, marketing and trade marketing) which of them would lose part or all of their bonus if in-store compliance was poor. Not one of them.

Consumer goods companies often pay a lot of money for research and insight to help them understand what should happen in-store. Unfortunately whether it actually happens is not always given the same level of attention.  If someone had a bonus resting on whether the plan was executed correctly or not, perhaps more attention would be paid.

At least by measuring what actually happened in-store the debate could focus on the actual facts, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Written by Mike Anthony

June 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Consumer or shopper loyalty – Can we please be clear on what we mean?

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Fanaticism does not equal loyalty

Loyalty is one of those words that is thrown around in marketing circles with incredible regularity, and it appears that it has many meanings for many people. In the same way as the word “strategy” (don’t get me started on that!) loyalty is used all over the place; unfortunately it is rarely used to describe actual loyalty, or in a way that is useful to marketers to help them associate this potentially high value measure with the returns that true loyalty can create.


A loyal consumer is one that uses your brand to the exclusion of any other. A loyal shopper, likewise, one that buys your brand in the same exclusive manner. Further a loyal consumer or shopper would continue to use or buy your brand even if you increased your price; would be likely to try a different store if your brand wasn’t available. But loyalty is not, as a recent blog I read suggested, someone who “talks about your brand and recommends it to friends”. That is an advocate. Advocacy may well be valuable to a brand, and desirable too, but it is not loyalty.

Nor is using the brand in quirky or new ways, or wearing a T-Shirt with the brand on it, or hanging it on your Christmas tree, or knowing more about the brand than the brand manager. These are traits of fanaticism. Fans may well be valuable to a brand, and fanaticism may be desirable, but it is not loyalty. I’m loyal to many brands, but I don’t chat about my deodorant, wear a Colgate T-Shirt, or want to join a shampoo fan club.

Toby Desforges suggested in a recent blog that consumer marketing had got just a little “flaky”, and this obsession with fans and fanatics, currently displayed by the CPG industry and made easier to manage in the Facebook era, is a symptom of this flakiness.

Loyalty is valuable to you as consumer or shopper marketers  because it is about consumption behavior or shopper behavior.  It means that these people use your brand all of the time. These consumers or shoppers tend to be valuable because they tend to use more, and they should be profitable as there should be no need to promote a brand to someone who shuns your competition. Creating loyalists creates direct profitability.

Advocacy and fanaticism have their place in the marketing world. But what percentage of a brand’s users become advocates or fans? How valuable are these individuals compared to those who quietly but stoically continue to use the brand day in, day out. They can create value but the value they create is more likely to reside in their ability to change the behavior of others (rather than in their own consumption or purchasing) – their ability to create new consumption in other people.

If marketers are going to pursue advocates or fans, then the return on investment needs to be calculated in terms of the additional consumption that they can create. If we are making “likes”, or “engagement” our goal, then we are not measuring the true effectiveness of our marketing. These are potentially great KPIs – indicators of performance – but unless we are clear (and can measure) a causal correlation between these indicators and real, quantified, behavioral change, then marketing is well and truly on the path to “flaky”.

Written by Mike Anthony

May 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm

How to Target Shoppers Better Across Fragmented Channels

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Channels have been on my mind this week. Not just because I was in Jakarta running a workshop with a client on Channel Strategy : but because every news story I read seemed to be about channel fragmentation and proliferation: small store formats from big box retailers;online retailers such as Amazon opening up bricks and mortar stores, or vice versa; and even from a more fishy angle, seafood in vending machines as seen in Spain recently (see links below).

No boomers or fish here?

Personal Care Store in Jakarta, Indonesia - No boomers or fish here?

Channels matter, because it is channels that shoppers choose first. The first shopping decision, as I’ve discussed many times here before, is where to shop. Fragmentation and proliferation of channel choice is putting power into the hands of shoppers, and manufacturers have an opportunity to use that.

Proliferation of channels, be it online, bricks, smaller stores or whatever, means that the mix of shoppers in each channel is likely to be less homogeneous. In the days when shoppers had little choice, everyone had to shop in the same grocery store. Now with choice, comes decision, and that means different groups of individuals (segments) will make different decisions, and that means they can be targeted more effectively.

With higher levels of shopper insight and data than ever before, it is becoming easier to understand the differences between the people who shop in each channel. As an example, according to last week’s Marketing Daily article, there is a high density of older people shopping on the internet, and also a high number of them are bargain hunters. Unfortunately (which I wish this article had mentioned) the two are not exactly the same – there are a high number of “boomers” who are not bargain hunters. But the opportunities to target shoppers by channel are high (if you wanted to target boomers, OR bargain hunters, for example).

Once a brand understands which shoppers they are targeting, there is an opportunity to map those target shoppers onto channels, so as to identify the environments where there is the richest mix of the brands’ target shoppers.

Seafood Vending Machines

Small Store Proliferation

Boomers online

Written by Mike Anthony

February 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Shopper Missions, Convenience, and Dr. Feelgood

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In a world where retail behemoths seem sometimes to be taking over, Vietnam can often seem like a breath of fresh air. Whilst Makro and Casino have a presence, and convenience store chains such as Circle K are experimenting, this is a market where big global retail has not yet taken over. And whilst complex regulation is part of the reason why, the other part lies in understanding the Vietnamese shopper.

In our shopper marketing training and workshops, we talk about one of the biggest shopping decisions a shopper makes (and yes it takes place outside the store!): where will I shop?

This decision is based on the shopper’s interpretation of the consumption needs and the needs of the shopper. I was in Vietnam earlier this week meeting potential partners and coaching sales and marketing leaders for a CPG company there. After some great coaching sessions I had a little spare time to explore some stores, and found some which are possibly unique to the market there and a perfect example of shopper needs driving outlet selection.

In Ho Chi Minh City there is a curious store type, called (rather unimaginatively) “Milk, Biscuit and Spirit Stores”. One step further than Dr. Feelgood at least! These are a curious breed of shops which sell (go on, guess!) milk, biscuits, and spirits. Many of them sell a little of other categories – perhaps some confectionery, or some diapers – but the vast majority of their range is limited to those three categories.

This rather unique store is apparently a throwback to a time when some Vietnamese had access to imported goods via relatives living abroad and they started to sell the surplus. The stores are clustered on a single street and virtually every store sells the same stuff. You can even find a “store” consisting of two women, two lawn chairs and a box of product that the ladies bought from a shop further down the road (unfortunately they declined to be photographed).


Drive Thru Milk

In this day and age it’s hard to imagine how it works until you see the shopping process. Shoppers mount the pavement on their motorbikes, have a brief chat to the shop assistant and drive off with their product. Milk powder is expensive enough to warrant a detour home, the price is good, and the shopping experience perfect – you don’t even need to switch off the engine. In Vietnam this (existing convenience and focus on the shopper?) is one of the reasons big box retail has struggled. By far the dominant form of transportation in urban areas is by motorcycle, and there is only so much stuff I can pack onto a bike on the way home. By contrast the Milk Shop hits shopper needs almost perfectly.

In the world of shopper needs – convenience is often king.

Written by Mike Anthony

February 10, 2012 at 11:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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