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shopper researchAt engage, we get to see a lot of shopper research. We commission research on behalf of our clients regularly, but often we are handed over research reports soon after the work has been commissioned, and we help our clients derive insight and strategy from the work. Often the studies involve in-store research: observations, exit interviews, or intercepts: and in this work there is one simple mistake which, I would guess, is made in at least 90% of the projects I see.…

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shopper researchAt engage, we get to see a lot of shopper research. We commission research on behalf of our clients regularly, but often we are handed over research reports soon after the work has been commissioned, and we help our clients derive insight and strategy from the work. Often the studies involve in-store research: observations, exit interviews, or intercepts: and in this work there is one simple mistake which, I would guess, is made in at least 90% of the projects I see. Nobody records, in detail, what was in the store. This is I believe not only the most common mistake in shopper research, but also the most costly.

Apologies to those out there in the research community who wouldn’t dream of NOT recording every detail of the in-store environment during fieldwork, but the work we see is often conducted by big name research houses, for big name brands; and when we politely ask for the photos and schematics of the store – we get the email equivalent of a blank stare. So why is this important? Well – let’s just think about a couple of (sadly real) outtakes from research reports which are rendered completely useless without understanding the in-store stimulus provided to shoppers.

The cost of not recording the store environment during shopper research

In a recent project we worked on, the research report stated that “4% of shoppers switched brands because they noticed a promotional sign.” Well – at first blush that looks pretty poor – until we consider how many shoppers actually had a chance to see the sign. If the research was conducted across a number of stores (which hopefully it was), what if the sign was only in 10% of the stores? Then potentially the research sound bite becomes “40% of shoppers who had the opportunity to see a sign, switched brands as a result of seeing it”. Quite a different scenario, I’m sure you’d agree!

Let’s try another real example from a research presentation: “Shoppers in Tesco were three times more likely to buy from the off-shelf display than those in Carrefour.” Whilst this may be true, there are a number of factors which might have affected this. How many of the tested stores had displays? Were they in different locations in the store? Were they fully stocked? Were there any competitive displays? The conclusion that “Tesco attracts different shoppers to Carrefour” is tempting, but potentially all we’re actually saying is that the layout of these particular stores induced a different behavior to that layout”.

Shopper research tells us how shoppers respond to what they see in store

The results we see in research are a result of the interaction of two broad variables: different types of shoppers, and different stimulus – different in-store environments. Understanding what shoppers did without knowing what it was that they were presented with is pretty meaningless, and can be incredibly misleading.

So what should shopper researchers and shopper insight managers do? Here is a simple list to make sure that you’ve covered as many bases as possible in recording what it was that was in-store whilst the research was underway. It doesn’t matter whether you do this, or the agency does – just make sure it gets done!

Seven steps to better shopper research conclusions

Get a map of the store

A simple block diagram which maps out which categories are where, where displays, checkouts, media, elevators – well – pretty much everything (including the washroom!) is located. This macro map can be used to highlight the location of all of the ‘points of interest’ (the category, displays for your brand and competitors, or competing categories.)

Get photos of the fixture

A picture speaks a thousand words may be a cliché, but ‘a thousand words mean little without a picture’ is closer to my point here. The photos (and modern photo-stitching software is brilliant here) show what the shopper sees. A video can be a useful addition.

Record prices, promotions, stock levels and out of stocks

Within the category, everything which might possibly impact the shoppers’ behavior needs to be recorded. Every sign, wobbler, sticker, price, discount, flag. Inventory levels, and in particular, out-of-stocks, are critical.

Go to the stores yourself

I recognize that this isn’t always practical, but perhaps at least go to one or two, perhaps? Photos are great (and this doesn’t replace the need for images, by the way) but I often find that it is only by going to the store that the pictures really mean something. I was working on a project in Korea once, and for some reason the signage the client was using was having no impact whatsoever. The message was great, and the photos showed the signage was in place in every store. It was only upon visiting the stores themselves that it became clear what the problem was. The signage was simply too high and was out of the line of sight for everybody. The photos didn’t pick this up, but a quick trip to the store certainly did.

A snapshot is just that.

Fieldwork often runs for several days, across several stores, and things change. Images should be recorded every day of the activity. In very fast moving categories stock levels and out of stocks should be recorded more frequently, potentially hourly. Just because your brand was in-stock on Saturday morning when the fieldwork commenced, doesn’t mean that it was still in-stock on Sunday afternoon when sixty percent of the sample visited!

Look at the data store by store

As a quick check-step, look at the data, store by store, and check for any glaring anomalies (we once found one store in a sample of twenty which was responsible for virtually all of brand switching – guess what? the brand was out of stock in that store!).

Print it all off for the research presentation

One last tip: make sure all of this is ready and easy to access for the research presentation. Enlarge the store maps and photos and pin them to the wall if you can, so that it’s easy for them to be referenced during the presentation.

Doing all of these steps is a bit time consuming, and is easily forgotten, but it is so critical. Without it much of the research data is meaningless – or worse, could be easily misread.  If you’d like to know more about how to get the best out of shopper research,  download this free e-book on conducting great shopper research.

shopper researchAt engage, we get to see a lot of shopper research. We commission research on behalf of our clients regularly, but often we are handed over research reports soon after the work has been commissioned, and we help our clients derive insight and strategy from the work. Often the studies involve in-store research: observations, exit interviews, or intercepts: and in this work there is one simple mistake which, I would guess, is made in at least 90% of the projects I see. Nobody records, in detail, what was in the store. This is I believe not only the most common mistake in shopper research, but also the most costly.

Apologies to those out there in the research community who wouldn’t dream of NOT recording every detail of the in-store environment during fieldwork, but the work we see is often conducted by big name research houses, for big name brands; and when we politely ask for the photos and schematics of the store – we get the email equivalent of a blank stare. So why is this important? Well – let’s just think about a couple of (sadly real) outtakes from research reports which are rendered completely useless without understanding the in-store stimulus provided to shoppers.

The cost of not recording the store environment during shopper research

In a recent project we worked on, the research report stated that “4% of shoppers switched brands because they noticed a promotional sign.” Well – at first blush that looks pretty poor – until we consider how many shoppers actually had a chance to see the sign. If the research was conducted across a number of stores (which hopefully it was), what if the sign was only in 10% of the stores? Then potentially the research sound bite becomes “40% of shoppers who had the opportunity to see a sign, switched brands as a result of seeing it”. Quite a different scenario, I’m sure you’d agree!

Let’s try another real example from a research presentation: “Shoppers in Tesco were three times more likely to buy from the off-shelf display than those in Carrefour.” Whilst this may be true, there are a number of factors which might have affected this. How many of the tested stores had displays? Were they in different locations in the store? Were they fully stocked? Were there any competitive displays? The conclusion that “Tesco attracts different shoppers to Carrefour” is tempting, but potentially all we’re actually saying is that the layout of these particular stores induced a different behavior to that layout”.

Shopper research tells us how shoppers respond to what they see in store

The results we see in research are a result of the interaction of two broad variables: different types of shoppers, and different stimulus – different in-store environments. Understanding what shoppers did without knowing what it was that they were presented with is pretty meaningless, and can be incredibly misleading.

So what should shopper researchers and shopper insight managers do? Here is a simple list to make sure that you’ve covered as many bases as possible in recording what it was that was in-store whilst the research was underway. It doesn’t matter whether you do this, or the agency does – just make sure it gets done!

Seven steps to better shopper research conclusions

Get a map of the store

A simple block diagram which maps out which categories are where, where displays, checkouts, media, elevators – well – pretty much everything (including the washroom!) is located. This macro map can be used to highlight the location of all of the ‘points of interest’ (the category, displays for your brand and competitors, or competing categories.)

Get photos of the fixture

A picture speaks a thousand words may be a cliché, but ‘a thousand words mean little without a picture’ is closer to my point here. The photos (and modern photo-stitching software is brilliant here) show what the shopper sees. A video can be a useful addition.

Record prices, promotions, stock levels and out of stocks

Within the category, everything which might possibly impact the shoppers’ behavior needs to be recorded. Every sign, wobbler, sticker, price, discount, flag. Inventory levels, and in particular, out-of-stocks, are critical.

Go to the stores yourself

I recognize that this isn’t always practical, but perhaps at least go to one or two, perhaps? Photos are great (and this doesn’t replace the need for images, by the way) but I often find that it is only by going to the store that the pictures really mean something. I was working on a project in Korea once, and for some reason the signage the client was using was having no impact whatsoever. The message was great, and the photos showed the signage was in place in every store. It was only upon visiting the stores themselves that it became clear what the problem was. The signage was simply too high and was out of the line of sight for everybody. The photos didn’t pick this up, but a quick trip to the store certainly did.

A snapshot is just that.

Fieldwork often runs for several days, across several stores, and things change. Images should be recorded every day of the activity. In very fast moving categories stock levels and out of stocks should be recorded more frequently, potentially hourly. Just because your brand was in-stock on Saturday morning when the fieldwork commenced, doesn’t mean that it was still in-stock on Sunday afternoon when sixty percent of the sample visited!

Look at the data store by store

As a quick check-step, look at the data, store by store, and check for any glaring anomalies (we once found one store in a sample of twenty which was responsible for virtually all of brand switching – guess what? the brand was out of stock in that store!).

Print it all off for the research presentation

One last tip: make sure all of this is ready and easy to access for the research presentation. Enlarge the store maps and photos and pin them to the wall if you can, so that it’s easy for them to be referenced during the presentation.

Doing all of these steps is a bit time consuming, and is easily forgotten, but it is so critical. Without it much of the research data is meaningless – or worse, could be easily misread.  If you’d like to know more about how to get the best out of shopper research,  download this free e-book on conducting great shopper research.

Read more >>

what is shopper marketing definitionShopper marketing as a term has now been around for some time: and one could be forgiven for thinking that every business was well and truly on the shopper marketing bandwagon. But in reality that simply isn’t true. Many organizations still don’t have anyone with ‘shopper’ in their title. Other companies have re-branded their Trade Marketing team as Shopper Marketing, yet most of the activities of the team haven’t changed much. And even in big companies, many in-market teams are still struggling to bring shopper marketing into their business.  …

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what is shopper marketing definitionShopper marketing as a term has now been around for some time: and one could be forgiven for thinking that every business was well and truly on the shopper marketing bandwagon. But in reality that simply isn’t true. Many organizations still don’t have anyone with ‘shopper’ in their title. Other companies have re-branded their Trade Marketing team as Shopper Marketing, yet most of the activities of the team haven’t changed much. And even in big companies, many in-market teams are still struggling to bring shopper marketing into their business.  As someone at our recent Shopper Marketing Experts webinar asked: ‘how do you get focus on shopper marketing, when the business is still obsessed by consumers’.  Shopper marketing struggles in organizations for several reasons: but at its heart there is often one fundamental problem. What is shopper marketing? The industry is yet to adopt a common shopper marketing definition. So in this post we’re going to propose a way to build a high value shopper marketing definition for your business

What is shopper marketing? The most common shopper marketing definition

A cursory glance at the top hits on Google for “shopper marketing definition” or “What is shopper marketing” yield a rather depressing haul. Wikipedia gets top billing, with the (quite frankly) awful shopper marketing definition:

“understanding how one’s target consumers behave as shoppers, in different channels and formats, and leveraging this intelligence to the benefit of all stakeholders, defined as brands, consumers, retailers and shoppers”. I’m not sure where this came from, but the IGD do claim it as their own (though I’ve heard of others who also do).

There are (at least) two fundamental problems with this shopper marketing definition.

Firstly: ‘understanding how one’s target consumers behave as shoppers’ completely negates the very common situation where the shopper isn’t the consumer (and no, I still haven’t found a single category where the shopper is always the consumer).

Secondly: “leveraging this intelligence to the benefit of all stakeholders, defined as brands, consumers, retailers and shoppers”. The inference is that unless all parties benefit, it isn’t shopper marketing. Really? So if Coca Cola run a campaign designed to get shoppers to switch to Coke from Pepsi, does the retailer benefit? Maybe not. So is that not shopper marketing? And what if a retailer runs a campaign which reduces sales to one brand or other? Is that not shopper marketing?

Nonsense.

What is shopper marketing? A better shopper marketing definition

Let’s take a look at another widely quoted shopper marketing definition. POPAI’s Shopper Marketing Industry Council in 2011 suggests that shopper marketing is:

“The application of shopper insights along the path to purchase, to affect purchase behaviour in order to increase sales for both retailers and manufacturers”

This feels a lot better to me. However, I find the use of the word insights a little troubling (as we seem to find it difficult to agree what is and isn’t an insight). Surely just an understanding of shoppers would do? Does everything have to be an ‘insight’ (whatever that is!) And again we have the idea that shopper marketing has to benefit both retailers and manufacturers, which is rather dis-empowering to both parties, I feel.

What is shopper marketing? Building a shopper marketing definition which works

In answering the question ‘what is shopper marketing’, the fact that there isn’t a single clear shopper marketing definition is both good and bad news . That’s bad because you can’t necessarily pick up a definition ‘off the shelf’, but good in that you can shape the definition to what you want it to be for your business. But – well – where to start?

What is shopper marketing? An alternative shopper marketing definition

“Shopper marketing is the process of understanding shoppers and using that understanding to develop a marketing mix which influences shopper behavior in such a way as to positively impact consumption of the brand and or category’”

You can adapt this, but this is a great start. Let’s break it down.

What is shopper marketing?A process

First things first – it’s a process. It isn’t a team. It isn’t a philosophy. It’s a process: a series of actions that the business does. Adopting this shopper marketing definition helps a fledgling team wriggle free of the politics of who does what. Get the business bought into the fact that the process adds value, and you are well on your way to getting the business to buy into the value of shopper marketing.

What is shopper marketing? Understanding shoppers

I’ve thought long and hard about this bit. If our activities aren’t based on an understanding of shoppers, is it still marketing? One could easily open up a lengthy philosophical debate over this, but actually there isn’t a need. If we are to do anything other than throw random activities at the world, then it must be based on some amount of understanding. Period. So, it isn’t marketing if there isn’t some understanding at its heart. And it isn’t shopper marketing, unless it is based on an understanding of shoppers. Note I’m not saying that shopper marketing must be based on an in-depth, heavily researched understanding of shoppers. Nor am I saying it must be ‘an insight’. Just looking at the situation from a shopper’s point of view is a start. We are then, at least, putting the shopper at the heart of our thoughts and actions.

What is shopper marketing? Changing shopper behavior

In all your businesses (at least, almost all!) – you are looking for growth. For this to happen, there is a need for shoppers to change behavior. Your brand will need new shoppers, or will need existing shoppers to buy more, or more often. Each of these is a change in shopping behavior. Without these changes, growth simply won’t happen.

What is shopper marketing? Creating positive change in consumption behavior

This bit is critical for a number of reasons, but there are two key ones. It is this part that really demonstrates the added value of shopper marketing. It is also the part of the equation which helps consumer marketers understand the value that shopper marketing brings.

The value created by changing shopping behavior depends on the impact it has on consumption. Let’s explore this by way of an example. If I buy an extra tube of toothpaste, because of a promotion in-store, but it is of a brand I usually buy, and I don’t brush my teeth any more frequently, then the value of that promotion is low (arguably negative, as in the long term I won’t buy any more paste, but I’ve bought this one on deal). However, if I see something in-store that encourages me to buy, let’s say, a pack of chips when I hadn’t planned on buying them: and then I go on to consume them: then consumption has been expanded.

A shopper marketing definition which also creates value

So real shopper marketing value only comes if shopper marketing impacts both consumption and shopping behavior.

Yes, I am completely aware that including this opens the definition to criticism (much in the same way as I criticized the IGD definition). If it doesn’t drive consumption, is it not shopper marketing? One could easily argue that an activity that drives purchase, but not consumption is still shopper marketing. It would be true.

But it wouldn’t be as valuable

This part of the shopper marketing definition also helps consumer marketers understand why shopper marketing helps. If consumer marketers see shopper marketing as something that will help drive brand consumption, they are more likely to support it. This part of the definition hard-wires the connection between shopper marketing and consumer marketing in your business.

This shopper marketing definition has been proven to work with countless organizations. It creates clarity and purpose for shopper marketing activities. To learn more about shopper marketing, and for more help in getting started in shopper marketing, check out Shopper Marketing Experts, a new online community for anyone interested in shoppers and shopper marketing. If you’d like more direct help in getting your business to be more shopper focused, please get in touch.

If you liked this post, don’t forget to share it, and help someone you know!

Image: Mike Anthony

what is shopper marketing definitionShopper marketing as a term has now been around for some time: and one could be forgiven for thinking that every business was well and truly on the shopper marketing bandwagon. But in reality that simply isn’t true. Many organizations still don’t have anyone with ‘shopper’ in their title. Other companies have re-branded their Trade Marketing team as Shopper Marketing, yet most of the activities of the team haven’t changed much. And even in big companies, many in-market teams are still struggling to bring shopper marketing into their business.  As someone at our recent Shopper Marketing Experts webinar asked: ‘how do you get focus on shopper marketing, when the business is still obsessed by consumers’.  Shopper marketing struggles in organizations for several reasons: but at its heart there is often one fundamental problem. What is shopper marketing? The industry is yet to adopt a common shopper marketing definition. So in this post we’re going to propose a way to build a high value shopper marketing definition for your business

What is shopper marketing? The most common shopper marketing definition

A cursory glance at the top hits on Google for “shopper marketing definition” or “What is shopper marketing” yield a rather depressing haul. Wikipedia gets top billing, with the (quite frankly) awful shopper marketing definition:

“understanding how one’s target consumers behave as shoppers, in different channels and formats, and leveraging this intelligence to the benefit of all stakeholders, defined as brands, consumers, retailers and shoppers”. I’m not sure where this came from, but the IGD do claim it as their own (though I’ve heard of others who also do).

There are (at least) two fundamental problems with this shopper marketing definition.

Firstly: ‘understanding how one’s target consumers behave as shoppers’ completely negates the very common situation where the shopper isn’t the consumer (and no, I still haven’t found a single category where the shopper is always the consumer).

Secondly: “leveraging this intelligence to the benefit of all stakeholders, defined as brands, consumers, retailers and shoppers”. The inference is that unless all parties benefit, it isn’t shopper marketing. Really? So if Coca Cola run a campaign designed to get shoppers to switch to Coke from Pepsi, does the retailer benefit? Maybe not. So is that not shopper marketing? And what if a retailer runs a campaign which reduces sales to one brand or other? Is that not shopper marketing?

Nonsense.

What is shopper marketing? A better shopper marketing definition

Let’s take a look at another widely quoted shopper marketing definition. POPAI’s Shopper Marketing Industry Council in 2011 suggests that shopper marketing is:

“The application of shopper insights along the path to purchase, to affect purchase behaviour in order to increase sales for both retailers and manufacturers”

This feels a lot better to me. However, I find the use of the word insights a little troubling (as we seem to find it difficult to agree what is and isn’t an insight). Surely just an understanding of shoppers would do? Does everything have to be an ‘insight’ (whatever that is!) And again we have the idea that shopper marketing has to benefit both retailers and manufacturers, which is rather dis-empowering to both parties, I feel.

What is shopper marketing? Building a shopper marketing definition which works

In answering the question ‘what is shopper marketing’, the fact that there isn’t a single clear shopper marketing definition is both good and bad news . That’s bad because you can’t necessarily pick up a definition ‘off the shelf’, but good in that you can shape the definition to what you want it to be for your business. But – well – where to start?

What is shopper marketing? An alternative shopper marketing definition

“Shopper marketing is the process of understanding shoppers and using that understanding to develop a marketing mix which influences shopper behavior in such a way as to positively impact consumption of the brand and or category’”

You can adapt this, but this is a great start. Let’s break it down.

What is shopper marketing?A process

First things first – it’s a process. It isn’t a team. It isn’t a philosophy. It’s a process: a series of actions that the business does. Adopting this shopper marketing definition helps a fledgling team wriggle free of the politics of who does what. Get the business bought into the fact that the process adds value, and you are well on your way to getting the business to buy into the value of shopper marketing.

What is shopper marketing? Understanding shoppers

I’ve thought long and hard about this bit. If our activities aren’t based on an understanding of shoppers, is it still marketing? One could easily open up a lengthy philosophical debate over this, but actually there isn’t a need. If we are to do anything other than throw random activities at the world, then it must be based on some amount of understanding. Period. So, it isn’t marketing if there isn’t some understanding at its heart. And it isn’t shopper marketing, unless it is based on an understanding of shoppers. Note I’m not saying that shopper marketing must be based on an in-depth, heavily researched understanding of shoppers. Nor am I saying it must be ‘an insight’. Just looking at the situation from a shopper’s point of view is a start. We are then, at least, putting the shopper at the heart of our thoughts and actions.

What is shopper marketing? Changing shopper behavior

In all your businesses (at least, almost all!) – you are looking for growth. For this to happen, there is a need for shoppers to change behavior. Your brand will need new shoppers, or will need existing shoppers to buy more, or more often. Each of these is a change in shopping behavior. Without these changes, growth simply won’t happen.

What is shopper marketing? Creating positive change in consumption behavior

This bit is critical for a number of reasons, but there are two key ones. It is this part that really demonstrates the added value of shopper marketing. It is also the part of the equation which helps consumer marketers understand the value that shopper marketing brings.

The value created by changing shopping behavior depends on the impact it has on consumption. Let’s explore this by way of an example. If I buy an extra tube of toothpaste, because of a promotion in-store, but it is of a brand I usually buy, and I don’t brush my teeth any more frequently, then the value of that promotion is low (arguably negative, as in the long term I won’t buy any more paste, but I’ve bought this one on deal). However, if I see something in-store that encourages me to buy, let’s say, a pack of chips when I hadn’t planned on buying them: and then I go on to consume them: then consumption has been expanded.

A shopper marketing definition which also creates value

So real shopper marketing value only comes if shopper marketing impacts both consumption and shopping behavior.

Yes, I am completely aware that including this opens the definition to criticism (much in the same way as I criticized the IGD definition). If it doesn’t drive consumption, is it not shopper marketing? One could easily argue that an activity that drives purchase, but not consumption is still shopper marketing. It would be true.

But it wouldn’t be as valuable

This part of the shopper marketing definition also helps consumer marketers understand why shopper marketing helps. If consumer marketers see shopper marketing as something that will help drive brand consumption, they are more likely to support it. This part of the definition hard-wires the connection between shopper marketing and consumer marketing in your business.

This shopper marketing definition has been proven to work with countless organizations. It creates clarity and purpose for shopper marketing activities. To learn more about shopper marketing, and for more help in getting started in shopper marketing, check out Shopper Marketing Experts, a new online community for anyone interested in shoppers and shopper marketing. If you’d like more direct help in getting your business to be more shopper focused, please get in touch.

If you liked this post, don’t forget to share it, and help someone you know!

Image: Mike Anthony

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cross category initiative retail proposition shopper marketingIn a recent post, I shared a simple approach to identifying the best placement for in-store communication. Often, (and as was the case with some of the examples I shared the post) the optimum placement for in-store communication doesn’t lie in your category. Many readers asked how best to overcome this challenge. In this blog we will address this question: how to get retail support for cross category initiatives.

In the original post, we focused very much on in-store communication.…

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cross category initiative retail proposition shopper marketingIn a recent post, I shared a simple approach to identifying the best placement for in-store communication. Often, (and as was the case with some of the examples I shared the post) the optimum placement for in-store communication doesn’t lie in your category. Many readers asked how best to overcome this challenge. In this blog we will address this question: how to get retail support for cross category initiatives.

In the original post, we focused very much on in-store communication. But similar rules and approaches will work with any cross-category placement – for example, cross merchandising and secondary displays. So what steps can we take to improve our chances of achieving our cross category plan?

Getting cross category placement can be hard

Getting retailers to do things is often hard at the best of times, but getting something to happen outside of your usual category is doubly so. Decisions are often made by a different buyer, who has little incentive to help another category or brand perform. Key Account Manager’s may not have a relationship with this buyer either, and so from a selling point of view we are faced with a battle. What should we do to improve our chances of success?

Do we really need cross category placement?

Given that this is a tough road, the most obvious first question is to check that it is absolutely necessary. Review all the data and decisions that led to the desire for a cross category placement and understand what would be the impact of communicating elsewhere.

Make sure there is a really strong proposition to do this

We’re asking a lot, so we should endeavor to ensure that our customer value proposition is as strong as possible. We’re going to need our buyer to fight for this, after all, so we need to ensure that this is valuable to them. Make sure  we’ve used whatever consumer and shopper data we have to quantify the value that this brings to the retailer.

Build a proposition for the new buyer

The trouble with our existing proposition, is that it probably demonstrated value to our buyer, by adding value to our category. In the example featured in the original blog, Sensodyne, a toothpaste for sensitive teeth was featured by the ice-cream chiller in a convenience store. This placement was chosen to tap into the visceral pain experience of ice cream and sensitive teeth (for more on this, please check the original blog). GSK, the company that makes Sensodyne, had a great proposition for the oral care buyer. It isn’t hard to see that this execution could lead to increased sales of toothpaste and other oral care products in that chain. But what about the ice cream buyer? Unfortunately, she doesn’t benefit from more sales of toothpaste.

But they might still benefit. Would a solution to sensitive teeth increase ice cream sales? Perhaps not in the short term, but in the longer term? If more people used Sensodyne, isn’t it possible to think that ice cream sales might go up. Yes, it’s a stretch, but I bet GSK have some data on it somewhere. And, its better than nothing!

Consider how to approach the new buyer

Typically, the key account manager will have a limited relationship with the buyer of the other category. So, the question now is to consider the best way to get to them. The typical options are:

 

  • Ask your current buyer to make an introduction
  • Ask your current buyer to ‘sell’ the proposition for you
  • Go ‘up’ the organization to a manager who oversees both categories and can therefore see ‘the big picture’.

Each of these options has pros and cons. Ideally engaging the new buyer in conjunction with your existing buyer is preferred, but that is not always the case. When I was a key account manager at the beginning of my career, I worked with two buyers: and they both loathed each other. There was little chance of cooperation there! Going to a buyer’s boss is always a dangerous option, but can be done in discrete ways. Selling the idea as part of a comprehensive business plan is one way of getting senior manager’s on board without putting anyone’s noses out of joint.

Plan ahead

Possibly the best piece of advice is to plan. Trying to coordinate this type of activity at a few weeks’ notice is likely to fail. But if a clear strategy is identified in advance, and this is shared with the key account team in advance, then the groundwork can be planned. Relationships can be built. Strong propositions can be built for each stakeholder. Senior managers can be approached via business reviews and top to top meetings.

All this points to the fact that shopper marketing and customer management needs to be well integrated at a strategic and planning level – not just when it comes to execution. And both functions need to be developing strategies and plans which are integrated with consumer plans too. Creating these frameworks isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either. To access the thinking and the tools to help better integrate consumer marketing, shopper marketing and customer management, visit Shopper Marketing Experts – the brand-new community portal for marketing and sales professionals in consumer goods, agencies, research companies and retailers.

Image: Mike Anthony

cross category initiative retail proposition shopper marketingIn a recent post, I shared a simple approach to identifying the best placement for in-store communication. Often, (and as was the case with some of the examples I shared the post) the optimum placement for in-store communication doesn’t lie in your category. Many readers asked how best to overcome this challenge. In this blog we will address this question: how to get retail support for cross category initiatives.

In the original post, we focused very much on in-store communication. But similar rules and approaches will work with any cross-category placement – for example, cross merchandising and secondary displays. So what steps can we take to improve our chances of achieving our cross category plan?

Getting cross category placement can be hard

Getting retailers to do things is often hard at the best of times, but getting something to happen outside of your usual category is doubly so. Decisions are often made by a different buyer, who has little incentive to help another category or brand perform. Key Account Manager’s may not have a relationship with this buyer either, and so from a selling point of view we are faced with a battle. What should we do to improve our chances of success?

Do we really need cross category placement?

Given that this is a tough road, the most obvious first question is to check that it is absolutely necessary. Review all the data and decisions that led to the desire for a cross category placement and understand what would be the impact of communicating elsewhere.

Make sure there is a really strong proposition to do this

We’re asking a lot, so we should endeavor to ensure that our customer value proposition is as strong as possible. We’re going to need our buyer to fight for this, after all, so we need to ensure that this is valuable to them. Make sure  we’ve used whatever consumer and shopper data we have to quantify the value that this brings to the retailer.

Build a proposition for the new buyer

The trouble with our existing proposition, is that it probably demonstrated value to our buyer, by adding value to our category. In the example featured in the original blog, Sensodyne, a toothpaste for sensitive teeth was featured by the ice-cream chiller in a convenience store. This placement was chosen to tap into the visceral pain experience of ice cream and sensitive teeth (for more on this, please check the original blog). GSK, the company that makes Sensodyne, had a great proposition for the oral care buyer. It isn’t hard to see that this execution could lead to increased sales of toothpaste and other oral care products in that chain. But what about the ice cream buyer? Unfortunately, she doesn’t benefit from more sales of toothpaste.

But they might still benefit. Would a solution to sensitive teeth increase ice cream sales? Perhaps not in the short term, but in the longer term? If more people used Sensodyne, isn’t it possible to think that ice cream sales might go up. Yes, it’s a stretch, but I bet GSK have some data on it somewhere. And, its better than nothing!

Consider how to approach the new buyer

Typically, the key account manager will have a limited relationship with the buyer of the other category. So, the question now is to consider the best way to get to them. The typical options are:

 

  • Ask your current buyer to make an introduction
  • Ask your current buyer to ‘sell’ the proposition for you
  • Go ‘up’ the organization to a manager who oversees both categories and can therefore see ‘the big picture’.

Each of these options has pros and cons. Ideally engaging the new buyer in conjunction with your existing buyer is preferred, but that is not always the case. When I was a key account manager at the beginning of my career, I worked with two buyers: and they both loathed each other. There was little chance of cooperation there! Going to a buyer’s boss is always a dangerous option, but can be done in discrete ways. Selling the idea as part of a comprehensive business plan is one way of getting senior manager’s on board without putting anyone’s noses out of joint.

Plan ahead

Possibly the best piece of advice is to plan. Trying to coordinate this type of activity at a few weeks’ notice is likely to fail. But if a clear strategy is identified in advance, and this is shared with the key account team in advance, then the groundwork can be planned. Relationships can be built. Strong propositions can be built for each stakeholder. Senior managers can be approached via business reviews and top to top meetings.

All this points to the fact that shopper marketing and customer management needs to be well integrated at a strategic and planning level – not just when it comes to execution. And both functions need to be developing strategies and plans which are integrated with consumer plans too. Creating these frameworks isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either. To access the thinking and the tools to help better integrate consumer marketing, shopper marketing and customer management, visit Shopper Marketing Experts – the brand-new community portal for marketing and sales professionals in consumer goods, agencies, research companies and retailers.

Image: Mike Anthony

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shopper marketing strategyShopper marketing is a tough place to be strategic. When we speak with shopper marketers (and trade marketers, for that matter) they complain of being ‘stuck in the middle’, jammed between two (sometimes opposing) strategies. On the one hand, brand teams are pushing their brand strategies, and on the other side, retailers have their strategies, and want shopper marketing activity which fits with that. Little wonder that a lot of shopper marketing activity ends up being tactical, and sometimes appears incoherent or schizophrenic.…

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shopper marketing strategyShopper marketing is a tough place to be strategic. When we speak with shopper marketers (and trade marketers, for that matter) they complain of being ‘stuck in the middle’, jammed between two (sometimes opposing) strategies. On the one hand, brand teams are pushing their brand strategies, and on the other side, retailers have their strategies, and want shopper marketing activity which fits with that. Little wonder that a lot of shopper marketing activity ends up being tactical, and sometimes appears incoherent or schizophrenic. But it is possible to take a more strategic approach to shopper marketing. In this post. we’re going to explore the five key elements of a shopper marketing strategy.

Shopper marketing strategy starts with consumers

This might sound strange, but it is critical. Shoppers buy for consumers: so unless we understand consumers, we don’t fully understand shoppers either. Shopper marketing strategy begins by understanding where consumer growth is going to come from. Which consumers, and what changes to their behavior, will drive future growth for your brand or category? Shopper marketing strategy requires shopper marketers to understand a number of key things about the brands’ target consumers.

By using the consumer marketing strategy and the starting point for developing shopper marketing strategy, shopper marketers are able to focus their strategy on the same opportunities as their consumer marketing colleagues, creating high levels of alignment between consumer and shopper marketing activities.

Understanding shopper behavior

Strategy is about choosing what to focus on, and (by implication) what not to focus on. A shopper marketing strategy ensures the business focuses on the right shoppers with the right activity in the right environments. So the next step in developing a shopper marketing strategy is understanding shopper behavior. And not just any shoppers: we’re interested in our target shoppers. Consumer marketers have target consumers, and shopper marketers have target shoppers. Which shoppers are these? These are the shoppers that are key to unlocking the consumption growth identified in the brand teams’ strategies. Shopper marketers need to identify who these shoppers are, and build a clear understanding of their behavior and motivations.

Learn more about shopper marketing

Prioritizing channels

The next part of a shopper marketing strategy is selecting and prioritizing environments. To drive growth, target shoppers will need to change their behavior. To achieve that, shopper marketers must influence them. But where? In which environments might we find the most target shoppers?  In which channels will these shoppers be most open to our message? These are the channels (be they online or offline) that our shopper marketing strategy should be focused on.

Develop the key activity thrusts

If we’re clear on which shoppers we are targeting, and what we want them to do: if we’re clear on the environments we want to work in, the next question in our shopper marketing strategy journey is: what type of activity is most likely to impact these shoppers in each prioritized environment?

To be clear, we’re not looking for specific mechanics: at this stage we’re talking broad direction. And we’re not just talking about promotions either: any change to what is put in front of the shopper can be included. When we work with clients we focus on three key areas:

Availability: Which products should be available to buy in that environment or channel, and how should they be merchandised or laid out for shoppers? Where in store (or on a website) should they be positioned, how much space should there be, and how should this space be allocated?

Communication: What messages, what media, and where should that media be positioned (again, in a store or on a website)?

Offer: What long and short term prices should be applied, in absolute and relative terms? What offers, deals and promotions are OK, and what are not? How deep should deals be, and how frequently should they happen?

Investment frameworks and guidelines

The last part of any strategy should be investment, and the same is true for a shopper marketing strategy. The investment framework details how much are we prepared to spend, to implement the strategy, and achieve our goals. It will detail which customers are to be invested in, and upon what conditions can this investment be made. It will detail acceptable returns on investment.

The benefits of an integrated shopper marketing strategy

As I hope you can see, developing a shopper marketing strategy in this way has a number of benefits. Firstly, there is clarity on which shoppers are the focus of our activity, and what activity in which channels the business should focus on. This should help guide all shopper-facing activity, improving the effectiveness of this activity, and reducing spend on less effective (off-strategy) activity.

But more than this, it creates alignment points with both the consumer marketing team and the customer management team. The shopper marketing strategy started with the consumer and ends (by and large) with the customer. In our experience, this alignment is one of the key benefits of developing a shopper marketing strategy in this way.

Having a strategy doesn’t fix everything. Teams will still need to do tactical activity which is ‘off strategy’ because retailers demand it, or hitting budgets requires it! But at least with a shopper marketing strategy the business is aware when it is ‘off strategy’, and there is the opportunity to do more activity which is on strategy, than off!

It’s hard to do justice to a complex strategic process in one blog post. If you’d like to know more about how shopper marketing can help the entire marketing and sales function be more strategic, better aligned and deliver better results, check out Shopper Marketing Experts.

Image: Flickr

shopper marketing strategyShopper marketing is a tough place to be strategic. When we speak with shopper marketers (and trade marketers, for that matter) they complain of being ‘stuck in the middle’, jammed between two (sometimes opposing) strategies. On the one hand, brand teams are pushing their brand strategies, and on the other side, retailers have their strategies, and want shopper marketing activity which fits with that. Little wonder that a lot of shopper marketing activity ends up being tactical, and sometimes appears incoherent or schizophrenic. But it is possible to take a more strategic approach to shopper marketing. In this post. we’re going to explore the five key elements of a shopper marketing strategy.

Shopper marketing strategy starts with consumers

This might sound strange, but it is critical. Shoppers buy for consumers: so unless we understand consumers, we don’t fully understand shoppers either. Shopper marketing strategy begins by understanding where consumer growth is going to come from. Which consumers, and what changes to their behavior, will drive future growth for your brand or category? Shopper marketing strategy requires shopper marketers to understand a number of key things about the brands’ target consumers.

By using the consumer marketing strategy and the starting point for developing shopper marketing strategy, shopper marketers are able to focus their strategy on the same opportunities as their consumer marketing colleagues, creating high levels of alignment between consumer and shopper marketing activities.

Understanding shopper behavior

Strategy is about choosing what to focus on, and (by implication) what not to focus on. A shopper marketing strategy ensures the business focuses on the right shoppers with the right activity in the right environments. So the next step in developing a shopper marketing strategy is understanding shopper behavior. And not just any shoppers: we’re interested in our target shoppers. Consumer marketers have target consumers, and shopper marketers have target shoppers. Which shoppers are these? These are the shoppers that are key to unlocking the consumption growth identified in the brand teams’ strategies. Shopper marketers need to identify who these shoppers are, and build a clear understanding of their behavior and motivations.

Learn more about shopper marketing

Prioritizing channels

The next part of a shopper marketing strategy is selecting and prioritizing environments. To drive growth, target shoppers will need to change their behavior. To achieve that, shopper marketers must influence them. But where? In which environments might we find the most target shoppers?  In which channels will these shoppers be most open to our message? These are the channels (be they online or offline) that our shopper marketing strategy should be focused on.

Develop the key activity thrusts

If we’re clear on which shoppers we are targeting, and what we want them to do: if we’re clear on the environments we want to work in, the next question in our shopper marketing strategy journey is: what type of activity is most likely to impact these shoppers in each prioritized environment?

To be clear, we’re not looking for specific mechanics: at this stage we’re talking broad direction. And we’re not just talking about promotions either: any change to what is put in front of the shopper can be included. When we work with clients we focus on three key areas:

Availability: Which products should be available to buy in that environment or channel, and how should they be merchandised or laid out for shoppers? Where in store (or on a website) should they be positioned, how much space should there be, and how should this space be allocated?

Communication: What messages, what media, and where should that media be positioned (again, in a store or on a website)?

Offer: What long and short term prices should be applied, in absolute and relative terms? What offers, deals and promotions are OK, and what are not? How deep should deals be, and how frequently should they happen?

Investment frameworks and guidelines

The last part of any strategy should be investment, and the same is true for a shopper marketing strategy. The investment framework details how much are we prepared to spend, to implement the strategy, and achieve our goals. It will detail which customers are to be invested in, and upon what conditions can this investment be made. It will detail acceptable returns on investment.

The benefits of an integrated shopper marketing strategy

As I hope you can see, developing a shopper marketing strategy in this way has a number of benefits. Firstly, there is clarity on which shoppers are the focus of our activity, and what activity in which channels the business should focus on. This should help guide all shopper-facing activity, improving the effectiveness of this activity, and reducing spend on less effective (off-strategy) activity.

But more than this, it creates alignment points with both the consumer marketing team and the customer management team. The shopper marketing strategy started with the consumer and ends (by and large) with the customer. In our experience, this alignment is one of the key benefits of developing a shopper marketing strategy in this way.

Having a strategy doesn’t fix everything. Teams will still need to do tactical activity which is ‘off strategy’ because retailers demand it, or hitting budgets requires it! But at least with a shopper marketing strategy the business is aware when it is ‘off strategy’, and there is the opportunity to do more activity which is on strategy, than off!

It’s hard to do justice to a complex strategic process in one blog post. If you’d like to know more about how shopper marketing can help the entire marketing and sales function be more strategic, better aligned and deliver better results, check out Shopper Marketing Experts.

Image: Flickr

Read more >>

shopper marketers consumer insightMost of us know that to be really effective at shopper marketing, we need to know about and understand our shoppers. Without an ability to identify our target shoppers, and to understand about their motivations and behaviors, our shopper marketing strategies and programs are likely to be generic. But for really good shopper marketing, understanding shoppers isn’t enough.  Shopper marketers also need to understand consumers and consumption.

Before we go any further, let’s just make sure we’re clear. Consumers and shoppers aren’t necessarily the same.…

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shopper marketers consumer insightMost of us know that to be really effective at shopper marketing, we need to know about and understand our shoppers. Without an ability to identify our target shoppers, and to understand about their motivations and behaviors, our shopper marketing strategies and programs are likely to be generic. But for really good shopper marketing, understanding shoppers isn’t enough.  Shopper marketers also need to understand consumers and consumption.

Before we go any further, let’s just make sure we’re clear. Consumers and shoppers aren’t necessarily the same. In many cases, the consumer and the shopper are completely different people. But even when they are the same people, consumers and shoppers act as if they are quite different beings. Just because we understand someone as a consumer, doesn’t mean we understand them as a shopper. And, of course, vice versa.

Why do shopper marketers need to understand consumers and what do they need to know?

Shoppers buy to meet consumer needs, or at least the needs that they perceive exist. Shoppers rarely buy things without some idea of the consumption. Most shopper missions have an element of consumption in them (something for Jonny’s lunchbox, for tonight’s family meal, something to eat on the way home): therefore unless we really understand that consumer need, we’re really not understanding the shopper fully! So if that is the case, what do shopper marketers need to understand about consumers? It would be tempting to say that the more we understand, the better, but let’s focus on the key elements.

What opportunities exist to grow consumption? As a business we need to grow our brands, so that means that consumption has to grow. Brands or categories need either new consumers, or for a segment of existing consumers to consume more (more often, or a higher value product, or more volume per consumption occasion). For each consumption opportunity, shopper marketers need to know the following:

Which consumers are we targeting? Allied to this; shopper marketers need to know which consumers will change their behavior. Not all consumers will be the focus for a given consumption opportunity. Its really hard to focus our marketing efforts without understanding who we are targeting. An opportunity to drive penetration of a category would target consumers not currently using the category. An opportunity to drive frequency would of course target current users.

For shopper marketers, knowing who the consumer is is critical to helping them through the first step of shopper marketing: identifying who the target shopper is! Note that when we refer to ‘target consumer’ here, we’re not talking about the broad (often generic) target consumer that we describe in brand plans (active young adults, SES ABC1, etc.). Shopper marketers need to know about the consumers we are targeting for this specific opportunity.

Which consumer needs are we targeting. Shopper buy to meet a perceived consumption need. Mom buys meals to feed her family. A teenager buys an energy drink because they need that boost after the soccer match. If we are to understand shoppers, we need to understand the consumption need that they are aiming to satisfy. The more a shopper believes that our solution meets that consumption need, the more the shopper is likely to buy.

Which consumption occasions are we targeting? Shopper marketers need to understand where and when a consumption opportunity might lie too. The occasion is key to help the shopper marketer identify which channel is a potential channel to activate this opportunity. A consumption occasion at home, in the morning, may best be activated in a hypermarket or supermarket, via online channels, or any channel used for in-home stock up. An occasion in an office, at lunchtime, however, may require a different channel for activation – perhaps convenience stores near commercial areas.

What do consumers do now, and what do we want them to do? Shopper marketers need a focus on behavior. If they understand what is the desired change to consumption behavior, they can then work out what needs to happen to shopping behavior. Any increase in consumption must be preceded by an increase in purchase.

Why the consumer currently doesn’t use the brand or category for this need or occasion.  Getting down to the nuts and bolts of the marketing task, and my favorite marketing question: why not? Understanding ‘why not’ helps shopper marketers understand the barriers that they may need to overcome to encourage a shopper to buy. Is it a lack of awareness, a lack of understanding, or maybe simply that the brand isn’t available at the point of consumption? All of this is high value to the shopper marketer when they begin to plan their activity.

Of course, the list could go on, and close dialog and sharing of data and information between consumer marketing and shopper marketing teams is encouraged. But in our experience the above list represents the information which is of highest value.

Sharing information like this is key to ensuring that a shopper marketer’s plans are based on a genuine understanding of an important part of any shopper mission: the consumption that the shopper is trying to provide for. It also creates the opportunity for a much higher level of alignment between consumer marketing and shopper marketing plans: both sets of plans are ultimately doing the same thing: both aiming to drive brand consumption.

To learn more about making shopper marketing work for your business, whether you are in consumer marketing, shopper marketing, or sales, check out  Shopper Marketing Experts, a brand new platform designed to help marketers, sales people, agencies and retailers get the most out of their shopper marketing efforts.

Image: BlueDiamondGallery

shopper marketers consumer insightMost of us know that to be really effective at shopper marketing, we need to know about and understand our shoppers. Without an ability to identify our target shoppers, and to understand about their motivations and behaviors, our shopper marketing strategies and programs are likely to be generic. But for really good shopper marketing, understanding shoppers isn’t enough.  Shopper marketers also need to understand consumers and consumption.

Before we go any further, let’s just make sure we’re clear. Consumers and shoppers aren’t necessarily the same. In many cases, the consumer and the shopper are completely different people. But even when they are the same people, consumers and shoppers act as if they are quite different beings. Just because we understand someone as a consumer, doesn’t mean we understand them as a shopper. And, of course, vice versa.

Why do shopper marketers need to understand consumers and what do they need to know?

Shoppers buy to meet consumer needs, or at least the needs that they perceive exist. Shoppers rarely buy things without some idea of the consumption. Most shopper missions have an element of consumption in them (something for Jonny’s lunchbox, for tonight’s family meal, something to eat on the way home): therefore unless we really understand that consumer need, we’re really not understanding the shopper fully! So if that is the case, what do shopper marketers need to understand about consumers? It would be tempting to say that the more we understand, the better, but let’s focus on the key elements.

What opportunities exist to grow consumption? As a business we need to grow our brands, so that means that consumption has to grow. Brands or categories need either new consumers, or for a segment of existing consumers to consume more (more often, or a higher value product, or more volume per consumption occasion). For each consumption opportunity, shopper marketers need to know the following:

Which consumers are we targeting? Allied to this; shopper marketers need to know which consumers will change their behavior. Not all consumers will be the focus for a given consumption opportunity. Its really hard to focus our marketing efforts without understanding who we are targeting. An opportunity to drive penetration of a category would target consumers not currently using the category. An opportunity to drive frequency would of course target current users.

For shopper marketers, knowing who the consumer is is critical to helping them through the first step of shopper marketing: identifying who the target shopper is! Note that when we refer to ‘target consumer’ here, we’re not talking about the broad (often generic) target consumer that we describe in brand plans (active young adults, SES ABC1, etc.). Shopper marketers need to know about the consumers we are targeting for this specific opportunity.

Which consumer needs are we targeting. Shopper buy to meet a perceived consumption need. Mom buys meals to feed her family. A teenager buys an energy drink because they need that boost after the soccer match. If we are to understand shoppers, we need to understand the consumption need that they are aiming to satisfy. The more a shopper believes that our solution meets that consumption need, the more the shopper is likely to buy.

Which consumption occasions are we targeting? Shopper marketers need to understand where and when a consumption opportunity might lie too. The occasion is key to help the shopper marketer identify which channel is a potential channel to activate this opportunity. A consumption occasion at home, in the morning, may best be activated in a hypermarket or supermarket, via online channels, or any channel used for in-home stock up. An occasion in an office, at lunchtime, however, may require a different channel for activation – perhaps convenience stores near commercial areas.

What do consumers do now, and what do we want them to do? Shopper marketers need a focus on behavior. If they understand what is the desired change to consumption behavior, they can then work out what needs to happen to shopping behavior. Any increase in consumption must be preceded by an increase in purchase.

Why the consumer currently doesn’t use the brand or category for this need or occasion.  Getting down to the nuts and bolts of the marketing task, and my favorite marketing question: why not? Understanding ‘why not’ helps shopper marketers understand the barriers that they may need to overcome to encourage a shopper to buy. Is it a lack of awareness, a lack of understanding, or maybe simply that the brand isn’t available at the point of consumption? All of this is high value to the shopper marketer when they begin to plan their activity.

Of course, the list could go on, and close dialog and sharing of data and information between consumer marketing and shopper marketing teams is encouraged. But in our experience the above list represents the information which is of highest value.

Sharing information like this is key to ensuring that a shopper marketer’s plans are based on a genuine understanding of an important part of any shopper mission: the consumption that the shopper is trying to provide for. It also creates the opportunity for a much higher level of alignment between consumer marketing and shopper marketing plans: both sets of plans are ultimately doing the same thing: both aiming to drive brand consumption.

To learn more about making shopper marketing work for your business, whether you are in consumer marketing, shopper marketing, or sales, check out  Shopper Marketing Experts, a brand new platform designed to help marketers, sales people, agencies and retailers get the most out of their shopper marketing efforts.

Image: BlueDiamondGallery

Read more >>

building a sales team for e-commerceE-Commerce is booming in many parts of the world. The pace of growth varies by geography and category, but it seems that the world is waking up to the fact that e-commerce is coming: the only question is how fast. Adapting your business to e-commerce brings with it many opportunities, and no shortage of challenges. Building a sales team which is ready and able to manage e-commerce channels and retailers is hard, but in my experience some of the more unexpected challenges come from the impact e-commerce has on your existing offline business.…

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building a sales team for e-commerceE-Commerce is booming in many parts of the world. The pace of growth varies by geography and category, but it seems that the world is waking up to the fact that e-commerce is coming: the only question is how fast. Adapting your business to e-commerce brings with it many opportunities, and no shortage of challenges. Building a sales team which is ready and able to manage e-commerce channels and retailers is hard, but in my experience some of the more unexpected challenges come from the impact e-commerce has on your existing offline business. So what should a sales leader consider when building a sales team for an omnichannel future?

Building a sales team dedicated to eCommerce may not be the answer

It sometimes seems that a corporation’s automatic response to a new phenomenon is to ‘set up a team’: and the responses to e-commerce are no exception to this. And while building a sales team focused on managing these fast-growing, potentially important customers is potentially a good idea, it runs a very big risk. Building a separate e-commerce sales team creates an additional silo, which is never beneficial. It makes managing customers who are both on- and off-line difficult (which team manages them?). Fundamentally it creates an artificial split in the sales team. Building a sales team in this way does not reflect the world outside your office. Shoppers are looking for a seamless experience. Retailers are increasingly becoming omnichannel. A separate e-commerce team is less likely to be able to respond to these needs than one carefully integrated into the existing sales team.

Want to learn about shopper marketing?

But the biggest risk of building a sales team dedicated to e-commerce customers is that this suggests somehow that the impact of e-commerce on a sales organization can somehow be contained: that e-commerce is a thing unto itself, and can be separated from the rest of the organization. If this happens this is a grave mistake. In our experience the impact of e-commerce spreads far beyond the actual business we do with e-commerce customers, and can shake up the entire sales team. Let’s look at some of the ways e-commerce growth impacts the rest of the sales team.

Building a sales team: New pressures for existing customers

Not surprisingly, as e-commerce grows, offline retailers come under pressure. And that, unfortunately puts pressure back onto the manufacturer. Trade term agreements, forged in the belief that big retailers will continue to grow, are often not fit for purpose in a world where the biggest customers stumble. As some shoppers start switching out of offline stores, new ways of working are required. Continuing to invest in offline retailers in the same way as in the past will hit profits. Combine this with the need to invest in fast-growing online channels, and the pressure on trade spend budgets soon becomes unbearable. Strategic trade investment decisions need to made across the entire customer base, not just looking at an off-line or on-line customer set.

A power shift in your current customers

Best practice key account management has always advocated that it is important to have multiple contacts in the customer organization. Unfortunately, too many key account managers still focus heavily on one key contact. One of the trends we’ve observed is that as online and e-commerce become important to an offline retailer, their marketing team seems to wield more power. If you’re not networked into the retailer’s marketing team already, now is the time to start!

Building a sales team to cope with rapid decisions

ECommerce speeds up business. Prices change on a daily, or hourly basis for example. Online retailers want fast responses. Annual promotional plans often prove far to cumbersome. Decisions that could wait for a weekly or monthly meeting with the boss need to be made much faster. Building a sales team that can act fast, but stay on strategy is critical. Policy and procedures are required to enable effective decision making: authority (and authority limits) need to be set and managed.

3rd party wholesalers and distributors come under intense pressure

One of the other unexpected consequences is that existing distribution models come under pressure. In many markets manufacturers service huge quantities of small stores across the world through networks of distributors. These distributors are key to maintaining availability across the country, and typically operate on thin margins. What happens when e-commerce companies start selling to retailers? On the surface, there isn’t a problem because shoppers can still get your brand. But the problem is that the distributors profitability dives. Let’s say a distributor services a thousand outlets. What happens when 200 of those start buying online? The distributor is no longer profitable – and your stand to lose 800 points of distribution, or to invest heavily to prop up the distributor’s bottom line. Far fetched? Its already happening in many parts of the world: in both India and China online retail giants are actively marketing to small store owners. Building a sales team for the future must consider the impact on all aspects of the sales team, not just the obvious areas.

At its core the trends we are seeing in retail aren’t simply about e-commerce. This is about shoppers. Shopper behavior is changing dramatically and that is putting enormous pressure on the businesses involved – both retailers and manufacturers. Sales leaders must begin building a sales team which is fit to respond to the opportunities and threats that changes in shopping behavior are bringing. To learn a little more about how shopping behavior is changing, and how that might impact your business, sign up for Shopper Marketing Experts.

 

building a sales team for e-commerceE-Commerce is booming in many parts of the world. The pace of growth varies by geography and category, but it seems that the world is waking up to the fact that e-commerce is coming: the only question is how fast. Adapting your business to e-commerce brings with it many opportunities, and no shortage of challenges. Building a sales team which is ready and able to manage e-commerce channels and retailers is hard, but in my experience some of the more unexpected challenges come from the impact e-commerce has on your existing offline business. So what should a sales leader consider when building a sales team for an omnichannel future?

Building a sales team dedicated to eCommerce may not be the answer

It sometimes seems that a corporation’s automatic response to a new phenomenon is to ‘set up a team’: and the responses to e-commerce are no exception to this. And while building a sales team focused on managing these fast-growing, potentially important customers is potentially a good idea, it runs a very big risk. Building a separate e-commerce sales team creates an additional silo, which is never beneficial. It makes managing customers who are both on- and off-line difficult (which team manages them?). Fundamentally it creates an artificial split in the sales team. Building a sales team in this way does not reflect the world outside your office. Shoppers are looking for a seamless experience. Retailers are increasingly becoming omnichannel. A separate e-commerce team is less likely to be able to respond to these needs than one carefully integrated into the existing sales team.

Want to learn about shopper marketing?

But the biggest risk of building a sales team dedicated to e-commerce customers is that this suggests somehow that the impact of e-commerce on a sales organization can somehow be contained: that e-commerce is a thing unto itself, and can be separated from the rest of the organization. If this happens this is a grave mistake. In our experience the impact of e-commerce spreads far beyond the actual business we do with e-commerce customers, and can shake up the entire sales team. Let’s look at some of the ways e-commerce growth impacts the rest of the sales team.

Building a sales team: New pressures for existing customers

Not surprisingly, as e-commerce grows, offline retailers come under pressure. And that, unfortunately puts pressure back onto the manufacturer. Trade term agreements, forged in the belief that big retailers will continue to grow, are often not fit for purpose in a world where the biggest customers stumble. As some shoppers start switching out of offline stores, new ways of working are required. Continuing to invest in offline retailers in the same way as in the past will hit profits. Combine this with the need to invest in fast-growing online channels, and the pressure on trade spend budgets soon becomes unbearable. Strategic trade investment decisions need to made across the entire customer base, not just looking at an off-line or on-line customer set.

A power shift in your current customers

Best practice key account management has always advocated that it is important to have multiple contacts in the customer organization. Unfortunately, too many key account managers still focus heavily on one key contact. One of the trends we’ve observed is that as online and e-commerce become important to an offline retailer, their marketing team seems to wield more power. If you’re not networked into the retailer’s marketing team already, now is the time to start!

Building a sales team to cope with rapid decisions

ECommerce speeds up business. Prices change on a daily, or hourly basis for example. Online retailers want fast responses. Annual promotional plans often prove far to cumbersome. Decisions that could wait for a weekly or monthly meeting with the boss need to be made much faster. Building a sales team that can act fast, but stay on strategy is critical. Policy and procedures are required to enable effective decision making: authority (and authority limits) need to be set and managed.

3rd party wholesalers and distributors come under intense pressure

One of the other unexpected consequences is that existing distribution models come under pressure. In many markets manufacturers service huge quantities of small stores across the world through networks of distributors. These distributors are key to maintaining availability across the country, and typically operate on thin margins. What happens when e-commerce companies start selling to retailers? On the surface, there isn’t a problem because shoppers can still get your brand. But the problem is that the distributors profitability dives. Let’s say a distributor services a thousand outlets. What happens when 200 of those start buying online? The distributor is no longer profitable – and your stand to lose 800 points of distribution, or to invest heavily to prop up the distributor’s bottom line. Far fetched? Its already happening in many parts of the world: in both India and China online retail giants are actively marketing to small store owners. Building a sales team for the future must consider the impact on all aspects of the sales team, not just the obvious areas.

At its core the trends we are seeing in retail aren’t simply about e-commerce. This is about shoppers. Shopper behavior is changing dramatically and that is putting enormous pressure on the businesses involved – both retailers and manufacturers. Sales leaders must begin building a sales team which is fit to respond to the opportunities and threats that changes in shopping behavior are bringing. To learn a little more about how shopping behavior is changing, and how that might impact your business, sign up for Shopper Marketing Experts.

 

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purchase decisions76%. As in  “76% of purchase decisions are made in-store”. We’ve all heard it a thousand times, I’m sure.  At first glance it might feel almost comforting, its been around for so long. And we all know that shoppers do make decisions in-store, and we are all busy spending money to influence these shoppers with displays, promotions and other activities. How dangerous could this number possibly be? Well that depends on two questions – what does it actually mean, and if it applies to your situation.…

Read more >>

purchase decisions76%. As in  “76% of purchase decisions are made in-store”. We’ve all heard it a thousand times, I’m sure.  At first glance it might feel almost comforting, its been around for so long. And we all know that shoppers do make decisions in-store, and we are all busy spending money to influence these shoppers with displays, promotions and other activities. How dangerous could this number possibly be? Well that depends on two questions – what does it actually mean, and if it applies to your situation. Putting aside the question of what ‘purchase decision’ actually means – let’s focus on the latter problem – the assumption that the number applies equally to all situations and purchase decisions.

Why is ‘76% of purchase decisions made in-store’ dangerous?

The quote is dangerous because it is this number that legitimizes (for some) the extravagance of in-store spending. In-store marketing budgets continue to rise both in real terms and as a percentage of total spend, and this is partially legitimized by the belief that this is investment. We’re spending money in-store to influence shoppers and that’s OK, because over three quarters of them can be influenced there, because that is where they make their purchase decisions.

This perhaps is why this number is so pervasive and sticky. People want to believe it.

Marketers faced with fragmented media, finding it harder to connect with a mass market, love the idea of being able to grab that mass market at one spot. Businesses faced with increasingly demanding retailers, feel legitimized. “This isn’t capitulation, this is smart marketing! This is investment”.

And so it would be, if the statistic were true.

What if the number of purchase decisions made in-store, for your business, is much much less?

We’ve studied lots of categories and very few get anywhere close to a 76% in-store decision rate. In one category (kid’s milk), the in-store decision rate was below 5%.

But I’d rather not dispute this number, because actually that misses the main point – the main danger if you will. Even if the number were true, it wouldn’t be true for your brand, your category, all of the time. Making decisions based on an average statistic (whether or not it is true) is dangerous. Most situations are not ‘average’. The challenge of marketing, and of shopper marketing, is to be far more specific.

In-store purchase decisions – rates vary by category

As I’ve stated above, we’ve seen huge variance from category to category. Some categories are clearly more impulsive in nature, some more planned. If you work in snacks, then you may find many more shoppers making decisions in aisles, than if you market toothpaste, perhaps.

In-store purchase decisions – rates vary by channel

Whatever the average for your category, the number will vary wildly by channel. We’ve worked in categories where one channel represented a minority of purchases but a majority of in-store decisions: people actually went to this channel when they went sure what to buy. This often occurs where in-store personnel are important to the decision making process (think pharmacy or drugstore). The biggest influence on this though is…

In-store purchase decisions – rates vary by shopper mission

We’re just concluding a project on a beverage category, where we see massive differences in the in-store purchase decision rates by mission. Even in the same channel, with shoppers of similar demographics, who even buy the same thing. For some missions, the in-store decision rate is over 60%. For others below 10%. We all know from our own experiences as shoppers that there are times when we are highly planned, and times when we are very much in browsing mode. Different missions equals different shopping behavior, which means that the number of decisions made in-store varies.

In-store purchase decisions – rates vary by shopper

Most important is to remember that as marketers we’re not interested in ‘the average shopper’. We’re interested in a specific target shopper, and therefore we must strive to understand how they make decisions, where they make decisions, and how those decisions are influenced. The 76% number is simply an irrelevance. All that matters is how (and where) our target shopper makes choices.

How attractive is the in-store purchase decision maker?

And a last thought – who are these shoppers who switch in-store? In many categories, they are what we call deal seekers: they come to a store with an open mind, and will buy whatever is on deal. They may buy your brand this week, but they’ll switch next time as soon as your competitor is on deal. They may be making decisions in-store, but do we want to spend our marketing money against them?

I’m not trying to pick a fight with POPAI (the organization who created this quote).  My problem today doesn’t lie with their report (though I do have my reservations about how they represent their data!). My problem is with the pervasiveness of it: how many ‘experts’ swallow it, and how that leads many marketers astray.

Whether you are a brand manager, shopper marketer, category manager or key account manager – the number is almost certainly wrong for you. Before you spend another dime, go find out where decisions are made by the shoppers you are interested in. If you are looking to better understand shoppers, check out our free e-book – “The Introductory Guide to Conducting Great Shopper Research”

purchase decisions76%. As in  “76% of purchase decisions are made in-store”. We’ve all heard it a thousand times, I’m sure.  At first glance it might feel almost comforting, its been around for so long. And we all know that shoppers do make decisions in-store, and we are all busy spending money to influence these shoppers with displays, promotions and other activities. How dangerous could this number possibly be? Well that depends on two questions – what does it actually mean, and if it applies to your situation. Putting aside the question of what ‘purchase decision’ actually means – let’s focus on the latter problem – the assumption that the number applies equally to all situations and purchase decisions.

Why is ‘76% of purchase decisions made in-store’ dangerous?

The quote is dangerous because it is this number that legitimizes (for some) the extravagance of in-store spending. In-store marketing budgets continue to rise both in real terms and as a percentage of total spend, and this is partially legitimized by the belief that this is investment. We’re spending money in-store to influence shoppers and that’s OK, because over three quarters of them can be influenced there, because that is where they make their purchase decisions.

This perhaps is why this number is so pervasive and sticky. People want to believe it.

Marketers faced with fragmented media, finding it harder to connect with a mass market, love the idea of being able to grab that mass market at one spot. Businesses faced with increasingly demanding retailers, feel legitimized. “This isn’t capitulation, this is smart marketing! This is investment”.

And so it would be, if the statistic were true.

What if the number of purchase decisions made in-store, for your business, is much much less?

We’ve studied lots of categories and very few get anywhere close to a 76% in-store decision rate. In one category (kid’s milk), the in-store decision rate was below 5%.

But I’d rather not dispute this number, because actually that misses the main point – the main danger if you will. Even if the number were true, it wouldn’t be true for your brand, your category, all of the time. Making decisions based on an average statistic (whether or not it is true) is dangerous. Most situations are not ‘average’. The challenge of marketing, and of shopper marketing, is to be far more specific.

In-store purchase decisions – rates vary by category

As I’ve stated above, we’ve seen huge variance from category to category. Some categories are clearly more impulsive in nature, some more planned. If you work in snacks, then you may find many more shoppers making decisions in aisles, than if you market toothpaste, perhaps.

In-store purchase decisions – rates vary by channel

Whatever the average for your category, the number will vary wildly by channel. We’ve worked in categories where one channel represented a minority of purchases but a majority of in-store decisions: people actually went to this channel when they went sure what to buy. This often occurs where in-store personnel are important to the decision making process (think pharmacy or drugstore). The biggest influence on this though is…

In-store purchase decisions – rates vary by shopper mission

We’re just concluding a project on a beverage category, where we see massive differences in the in-store purchase decision rates by mission. Even in the same channel, with shoppers of similar demographics, who even buy the same thing. For some missions, the in-store decision rate is over 60%. For others below 10%. We all know from our own experiences as shoppers that there are times when we are highly planned, and times when we are very much in browsing mode. Different missions equals different shopping behavior, which means that the number of decisions made in-store varies.

In-store purchase decisions – rates vary by shopper

Most important is to remember that as marketers we’re not interested in ‘the average shopper’. We’re interested in a specific target shopper, and therefore we must strive to understand how they make decisions, where they make decisions, and how those decisions are influenced. The 76% number is simply an irrelevance. All that matters is how (and where) our target shopper makes choices.

How attractive is the in-store purchase decision maker?

And a last thought – who are these shoppers who switch in-store? In many categories, they are what we call deal seekers: they come to a store with an open mind, and will buy whatever is on deal. They may buy your brand this week, but they’ll switch next time as soon as your competitor is on deal. They may be making decisions in-store, but do we want to spend our marketing money against them?

I’m not trying to pick a fight with POPAI (the organization who created this quote).  My problem today doesn’t lie with their report (though I do have my reservations about how they represent their data!). My problem is with the pervasiveness of it: how many ‘experts’ swallow it, and how that leads many marketers astray.

Whether you are a brand manager, shopper marketer, category manager or key account manager – the number is almost certainly wrong for you. Before you spend another dime, go find out where decisions are made by the shoppers you are interested in. If you are looking to better understand shoppers, check out our free e-book – “The Introductory Guide to Conducting Great Shopper Research”

Read more >>

selling to retailers shopper marketing no to yesShopper marketing can be frustrating. Not enough budget for shopper research to really understand shoppers? Check! Teams bogged down with too many promotions, spreadsheets and forms? Check! Lots of great ideas, but retailers who always say no? Now you’re talking. In virtually every workshop we run, that last one tops the list of shopper marketing frustrations for brand teams and agencies alike. So, when you are selling to retailers, what to do when it feels like retailers will never support you?…

Read more >>

selling to retailers shopper marketing no to yesShopper marketing can be frustrating. Not enough budget for shopper research to really understand shoppers? Check! Teams bogged down with too many promotions, spreadsheets and forms? Check! Lots of great ideas, but retailers who always say no? Now you’re talking. In virtually every workshop we run, that last one tops the list of shopper marketing frustrations for brand teams and agencies alike. So, when you are selling to retailers, what to do when it feels like retailers will never support you?

Take heart – retailers will support you if it is in their interest

Can I guarantee that you can turn a retailer’s ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ every time? I’m afraid not. But there are some actions will certainly improve your chances. And if you are feeling a little despondent: if you’re finding it hard to get a retailer to say yes to anything other than price cuts; then take heart. Retailers will do pretty much anything if it is worthwhile. Don’t believe me? Try this example.

A long while ago, bread was sold in supermarkets in little packets. The bread was all the same size, and was made in a bakery far, far away. Retailers wanted to entice people to do more of their daily shopping at the supermarket, and one day, someone suggested an in-store bakery. Can you imagine? “We’re going to knock down the wall, and build a bakery. We’ll have bread ovens, ingredients delivered to the store. We’ll employ bakers. We’ll make many different types of bread and we’ll have to forecast accurately as it will be out of shelf-life after one day.” How crazy must that have sounded when the idea was first suggested?

And yet – retailers did it.

So how to improve the chances of getting a ‘yes’ from a retailer?

Selling to retailers: Sense check your story

Retailers don’t support your initiatives for many reasons, but the most common one is that it simply isn’t valuable enough. And I don’t mean valuable to you, I mean valuable to them. Whatever you want them to do is going to require effort, and so we need to make sure that there is enough value in the proposition to make all the hassle worthwhile. And the more effort that is required the bigger the prize needs to be. Check that you’ve really used the power of shopper insight to build a brilliant value proposition for the retailer.

Selling to Retailers: Make sure you understand the reasons why they say no

There are lots of reasons, and the more we understand the reasons, the better the chances of overcoming them. But also remember that (almost) all reasons can be overcome if there is a good enough reason to take on the challenge. Remember the in-store bakery. There will have been myriad objections, for sure. One of the most common, “It goes against our policy”, is just another hurdle to overcome. It ‘costs’ your buyer to even attempt to do something which goes against his boss, so you’d better make it worth her while!

Selling to retailers: Talk to the right person

People are different. They have different personalities, different attitudes, and different roles. Make sure you are pitching your proposition to the right person. Too many key account managers we meet simply don’t know enough people in their customer’s business. If you only speak to the buyer, and someone in logistics, then your options for selling are limited. If your company only sees your buyer’s boss for the annual review, then your ability to pitch to them is limited.

Consider who your initiative will impact. Does it impact beyond your category? Store operations? Marketing? Who in the customer’s business has a track record of buying similar ideas? Is there anyone in the retailer who might support you? How senior do you need to go?

Selling to Retailers – If you get it right, you can change things in a store!

beer-supermarketA more recent example – I was in Russia last week and saw this: draft beer being sold in a hypermarket. Now that isn’t easy, I wouldn’t think! Barrels being delivered. Waste. A barman! All good reasons for the retailer to say “no” and yet – there was clearly enough perceived value to turn that no into a yes.

If your idea is crazier that baking bread in a grocery store, then yes it might be a tough sell. But if it isn’t (and 99% of what we want retailers to do isn’t) then there is always a chance. Build the strongest value proposition you can. Understand the key obstacles, challenges and objections, and plan how you will overcome them (and make sure your value-add is sufficient). And work out which person or people are critical to getting a yes. And take heart! A great value proposition, worth more than the cost, pain and work it creates, sold to the right person, always has a chance!

An important part of the shopper marketing task is to ensure that retailers will support your initiatives. If you want your shopper marketing teams to be better at understanding and winning with retailers, get in touch! And if you just want to know more about shopper marketing, check out Shopper Marketing Experts,  a new community of people who want to get better at shopper marketing.

selling to retailers shopper marketing no to yesShopper marketing can be frustrating. Not enough budget for shopper research to really understand shoppers? Check! Teams bogged down with too many promotions, spreadsheets and forms? Check! Lots of great ideas, but retailers who always say no? Now you’re talking. In virtually every workshop we run, that last one tops the list of shopper marketing frustrations for brand teams and agencies alike. So, when you are selling to retailers, what to do when it feels like retailers will never support you?

Take heart – retailers will support you if it is in their interest

Can I guarantee that you can turn a retailer’s ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ every time? I’m afraid not. But there are some actions will certainly improve your chances. And if you are feeling a little despondent: if you’re finding it hard to get a retailer to say yes to anything other than price cuts; then take heart. Retailers will do pretty much anything if it is worthwhile. Don’t believe me? Try this example.

A long while ago, bread was sold in supermarkets in little packets. The bread was all the same size, and was made in a bakery far, far away. Retailers wanted to entice people to do more of their daily shopping at the supermarket, and one day, someone suggested an in-store bakery. Can you imagine? “We’re going to knock down the wall, and build a bakery. We’ll have bread ovens, ingredients delivered to the store. We’ll employ bakers. We’ll make many different types of bread and we’ll have to forecast accurately as it will be out of shelf-life after one day.” How crazy must that have sounded when the idea was first suggested?

And yet – retailers did it.

So how to improve the chances of getting a ‘yes’ from a retailer?

Selling to retailers: Sense check your story

Retailers don’t support your initiatives for many reasons, but the most common one is that it simply isn’t valuable enough. And I don’t mean valuable to you, I mean valuable to them. Whatever you want them to do is going to require effort, and so we need to make sure that there is enough value in the proposition to make all the hassle worthwhile. And the more effort that is required the bigger the prize needs to be. Check that you’ve really used the power of shopper insight to build a brilliant value proposition for the retailer.

Selling to Retailers: Make sure you understand the reasons why they say no

There are lots of reasons, and the more we understand the reasons, the better the chances of overcoming them. But also remember that (almost) all reasons can be overcome if there is a good enough reason to take on the challenge. Remember the in-store bakery. There will have been myriad objections, for sure. One of the most common, “It goes against our policy”, is just another hurdle to overcome. It ‘costs’ your buyer to even attempt to do something which goes against his boss, so you’d better make it worth her while!

Selling to retailers: Talk to the right person

People are different. They have different personalities, different attitudes, and different roles. Make sure you are pitching your proposition to the right person. Too many key account managers we meet simply don’t know enough people in their customer’s business. If you only speak to the buyer, and someone in logistics, then your options for selling are limited. If your company only sees your buyer’s boss for the annual review, then your ability to pitch to them is limited.

Consider who your initiative will impact. Does it impact beyond your category? Store operations? Marketing? Who in the customer’s business has a track record of buying similar ideas? Is there anyone in the retailer who might support you? How senior do you need to go?

Selling to Retailers – If you get it right, you can change things in a store!

beer-supermarketA more recent example – I was in Russia last week and saw this: draft beer being sold in a hypermarket. Now that isn’t easy, I wouldn’t think! Barrels being delivered. Waste. A barman! All good reasons for the retailer to say “no” and yet – there was clearly enough perceived value to turn that no into a yes.

If your idea is crazier that baking bread in a grocery store, then yes it might be a tough sell. But if it isn’t (and 99% of what we want retailers to do isn’t) then there is always a chance. Build the strongest value proposition you can. Understand the key obstacles, challenges and objections, and plan how you will overcome them (and make sure your value-add is sufficient). And work out which person or people are critical to getting a yes. And take heart! A great value proposition, worth more than the cost, pain and work it creates, sold to the right person, always has a chance!

An important part of the shopper marketing task is to ensure that retailers will support your initiatives. If you want your shopper marketing teams to be better at understanding and winning with retailers, get in touch! And if you just want to know more about shopper marketing, check out Shopper Marketing Experts,  a new community of people who want to get better at shopper marketing.

Read more >>

great shopper marketingIn a conversation with a prospective client, we discussed the power of shopper marketing. He challenged me to show him some really great examples of shopper marketing, saying: “That’s all very well, but I just don’t see it happening. All is see in-stores is generic, ordinary – I can’t see the shopper marketing difference. Come back and show me what great shopper marketing looks like.”

Well that got me thinking. It got me thinking about the work we do, and the work I see around the world.…

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great shopper marketingIn a conversation with a prospective client, we discussed the power of shopper marketing. He challenged me to show him some really great examples of shopper marketing, saying: “That’s all very well, but I just don’t see it happening. All is see in-stores is generic, ordinary – I can’t see the shopper marketing difference. Come back and show me what great shopper marketing looks like.”

Well that got me thinking. It got me thinking about the work we do, and the work I see around the world. And while there are exceptions, an awful lot of what I would call great shopper marketing is actually rather ordinary in execution. A great piece of advertising can be seen, it has a wow factor: the brilliance is typically there to be seen. So why isn’t this true about shopper marketing?

Great shopper marketing is often almost invisible

I began to review some of the work we’ve done recently. For a TV manufacturer in China, we painted the walls red in-store; for a milk company the major strategic output was re-arranging the product on the shelf. We’ve changed signs in-store; listed products in new channels, and withdrawn from others. All of these had a massive (positive) impact on our clients’ business – and all were delivered by leveraging a better understanding of consumers and shoppers to change the way the brand or category was marketed to shoppers. However, with the exception of the red walls, most of this was almost invisible.

Great shopper marketing lies behind the scenes

Behind each of these simple executions there was hours of analysis, crunching, prioritizing and deliberations. Bespoke shopper segmentations were developed, channels analyzed, re-cut and prioritized again. Investment costs were calculated and rebalanced to create the maximum ROI. But none of that is visible to the external observer. The reality is that great shopper marketing is great marketing and marketing isn’t done in a store – it happens in offices, in meeting rooms and at desks. The brilliance of great marketing lies in the fabulous insights, the identification of different ways of looking at a situation, and turning that into something which is actionable and impactful. It doesn’t have to be beautiful to be brilliant shopper marketing – it has to work. Indeed given the many constraints on in-store execution for it to be actionable, great shopper marketing often has to be simple rather than flashy. It is perfectly possible to be impactful and understated.

So, how do you spot great shopper marketing?

If great shopper marketing isn’t necessarily highly visible: how do we know that something is great? Your shopper marketing is great when:

Great shopper marketing creates a behavioral change in a target shopper

If there is no change in shopping behavior then there is no growth. It’s as simple as that. There are many shoppers whom we wish to keep buying as they normally do, but they wont’ drive growth of our brands. If you are a marketer and need to grow your brand (who doesn’t?) then shoppers need to behave differently.

Great shopper marketing also drives incremental consumption

If incremental purchase takes place but there is no increase in consumption, then there is a danger our activity is just filling up the larder. In some categories we have found up to 80% of incremental purchases have not driven any change in consumption – i.e. product sits in a cupboard and just delays the next purchase. In the long term, no extra product is bought. If shopper activity also drives, enables or supports a change in consumption behavior, then as long as the consumption is rewarding, we are well on the way to a follow up purchase.

Great shopper marketing encourages habitual changes in shopping behavior

One purchase is nice, but if the shopper switches back to their old habits the next week then the gain is small. Herein lies the problem with most promotions and discounts. If the change is made permanent, habitual, then long term growth is assured.

Great shopper marketing facilitates habitual changes in consumption behavior

Now we are really talking. Getting a consumer to take on our brand on a long term basis assures consumer demand, and this is one of the best ways of creating or reinforcing a shopping habit.

Great shopper marketing is aligned with the long term goals of the brand

If the brand goal is to be positioned as premium, then how does that deep price discount affect that? If the brand is looking to penetrate new users, how does the buy two get one free deal help? If the brand is looking to drive into new usage occasions, then how can our shopper marketing connect to that?

Great shopper marketing supports the commercial and strategic goals of the retailer

Until all of our activities are conducted outside of the real estate owned by retailers, their collaboration and support will be required. Shopper activities which drive incremental sales and profit for the retailer will get more support, period. Activities which go against a retailers strategy may not. For example, I was once witness to a presentation by a brand owner to Tesco which stated that the goal of the activity was to steal share from the Tesco label product. Needless to say it didn’t get the green light from the buyer!

Great shopper marketing delivers a measurable ROI

Beyond all of this, marketers exist to make money for their companies, and shopper marketers are no exception. If it doesn’t make a decent return, then it isn’t great shopper marketing, regardless of how clever the creative is.

Great shopper marketing doesn’t need to look impressive

When we work with shopper marketing agencies – they often complain that there brilliant creativity is never allowed to shine – that their amazing ideas for transforming brands at retail never see the light of day. When we work with clients (and retailers!) they complain that what is presented by agencies and brand owners is just too complicated to work across hundreds of stores. Perhaps agencies are trying too hard? Perhaps they are trying to justify their fees, and feel that the concept and execution has to be amazing. This is fallacy. In consumer marketing perhaps there is more space for brilliance in insight AND execution. But for now I feel that adding value in shopper marketing is more about the insight end of the spectrum – execution is more about, well, ensuring it gets executed, and that often means keeping it simple

If you’d like to be able to create great shopper marketing work, why not check out shopper marketing experts – a unique online learning environment dedicated to shopper marketing.

great shopper marketingIn a conversation with a prospective client, we discussed the power of shopper marketing. He challenged me to show him some really great examples of shopper marketing, saying: “That’s all very well, but I just don’t see it happening. All is see in-stores is generic, ordinary – I can’t see the shopper marketing difference. Come back and show me what great shopper marketing looks like.”

Well that got me thinking. It got me thinking about the work we do, and the work I see around the world. And while there are exceptions, an awful lot of what I would call great shopper marketing is actually rather ordinary in execution. A great piece of advertising can be seen, it has a wow factor: the brilliance is typically there to be seen. So why isn’t this true about shopper marketing?

Great shopper marketing is often almost invisible

I began to review some of the work we’ve done recently. For a TV manufacturer in China, we painted the walls red in-store; for a milk company the major strategic output was re-arranging the product on the shelf. We’ve changed signs in-store; listed products in new channels, and withdrawn from others. All of these had a massive (positive) impact on our clients’ business – and all were delivered by leveraging a better understanding of consumers and shoppers to change the way the brand or category was marketed to shoppers. However, with the exception of the red walls, most of this was almost invisible.

Great shopper marketing lies behind the scenes

Behind each of these simple executions there was hours of analysis, crunching, prioritizing and deliberations. Bespoke shopper segmentations were developed, channels analyzed, re-cut and prioritized again. Investment costs were calculated and rebalanced to create the maximum ROI. But none of that is visible to the external observer. The reality is that great shopper marketing is great marketing and marketing isn’t done in a store – it happens in offices, in meeting rooms and at desks. The brilliance of great marketing lies in the fabulous insights, the identification of different ways of looking at a situation, and turning that into something which is actionable and impactful. It doesn’t have to be beautiful to be brilliant shopper marketing – it has to work. Indeed given the many constraints on in-store execution for it to be actionable, great shopper marketing often has to be simple rather than flashy. It is perfectly possible to be impactful and understated.

So, how do you spot great shopper marketing?

If great shopper marketing isn’t necessarily highly visible: how do we know that something is great? Your shopper marketing is great when:

Great shopper marketing creates a behavioral change in a target shopper

If there is no change in shopping behavior then there is no growth. It’s as simple as that. There are many shoppers whom we wish to keep buying as they normally do, but they wont’ drive growth of our brands. If you are a marketer and need to grow your brand (who doesn’t?) then shoppers need to behave differently.

Great shopper marketing also drives incremental consumption

If incremental purchase takes place but there is no increase in consumption, then there is a danger our activity is just filling up the larder. In some categories we have found up to 80% of incremental purchases have not driven any change in consumption – i.e. product sits in a cupboard and just delays the next purchase. In the long term, no extra product is bought. If shopper activity also drives, enables or supports a change in consumption behavior, then as long as the consumption is rewarding, we are well on the way to a follow up purchase.

Great shopper marketing encourages habitual changes in shopping behavior

One purchase is nice, but if the shopper switches back to their old habits the next week then the gain is small. Herein lies the problem with most promotions and discounts. If the change is made permanent, habitual, then long term growth is assured.

Great shopper marketing facilitates habitual changes in consumption behavior

Now we are really talking. Getting a consumer to take on our brand on a long term basis assures consumer demand, and this is one of the best ways of creating or reinforcing a shopping habit.

Great shopper marketing is aligned with the long term goals of the brand

If the brand goal is to be positioned as premium, then how does that deep price discount affect that? If the brand is looking to penetrate new users, how does the buy two get one free deal help? If the brand is looking to drive into new usage occasions, then how can our shopper marketing connect to that?

Great shopper marketing supports the commercial and strategic goals of the retailer

Until all of our activities are conducted outside of the real estate owned by retailers, their collaboration and support will be required. Shopper activities which drive incremental sales and profit for the retailer will get more support, period. Activities which go against a retailers strategy may not. For example, I was once witness to a presentation by a brand owner to Tesco which stated that the goal of the activity was to steal share from the Tesco label product. Needless to say it didn’t get the green light from the buyer!

Great shopper marketing delivers a measurable ROI

Beyond all of this, marketers exist to make money for their companies, and shopper marketers are no exception. If it doesn’t make a decent return, then it isn’t great shopper marketing, regardless of how clever the creative is.

Great shopper marketing doesn’t need to look impressive

When we work with shopper marketing agencies – they often complain that there brilliant creativity is never allowed to shine – that their amazing ideas for transforming brands at retail never see the light of day. When we work with clients (and retailers!) they complain that what is presented by agencies and brand owners is just too complicated to work across hundreds of stores. Perhaps agencies are trying too hard? Perhaps they are trying to justify their fees, and feel that the concept and execution has to be amazing. This is fallacy. In consumer marketing perhaps there is more space for brilliance in insight AND execution. But for now I feel that adding value in shopper marketing is more about the insight end of the spectrum – execution is more about, well, ensuring it gets executed, and that often means keeping it simple

If you’d like to be able to create great shopper marketing work, why not check out shopper marketing experts – a unique online learning environment dedicated to shopper marketing.

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sales and marketing alignmentThere are many benefits of making shopper marketing a part of your business, of making your business more shopper-centric. But there is one benefit that we see again and again from our work with clients. Businesses that make shopper a part of the way they do business are far more successful at integrating marketing and sales activities than those that do not. How does shopper marketing help bring marketing and sales teams closer together, and what practical steps can you take to use shopper to help create better sales and marketing alignment?…

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sales and marketing alignmentThere are many benefits of making shopper marketing a part of your business, of making your business more shopper-centric. But there is one benefit that we see again and again from our work with clients. Businesses that make shopper a part of the way they do business are far more successful at integrating marketing and sales activities than those that do not. How does shopper marketing help bring marketing and sales teams closer together, and what practical steps can you take to use shopper to help create better sales and marketing alignment?

How shopper marketing helps with sales and marketing alignment

Creates a common language

Sales and Marketing alignment is going to be difficult without a common language. The shopper is the ‘Rosetta Stone’ which helps connect the world of consumers to that of retailers. Consumer marketers must be able to express their goals in a way which can translate into product sales; product sales happen when retailers support brands in ways that encourage shoppers to buy products. So, shoppers link consumer activity to retail off-take.

If the consumer team can clearly articulate (and quantify) the specific change in consumer behavior that they are targeting, then that can be translated into a required shopping behavior. If, for example, the consumer goal is to drive penetration among teenagers – i.e. get teenagers to drink something they currently do not – then someone’s shopping behavior needs to change too. That change in shopping behavior can be understood by shopper marketers, and in turn explains what a sales team will need to do (for example, to make changes to the in-store environment to encourage moms to buy a certain product for their teenage kids, or to get teens to do it for themselves).

How to use shopper marketing to help sales and marketing alignment

Focus on behavior

While the use of a shopper link creates the possibility to translate consumer marketing speak into something sales teams can understand, it only goes so far. In our experience a focus on behavior is key to link consumer to shopper to retail. Facebook ‘likes’ are all very well, but sales teams (and, to be honest, pretty much everyone!) finds it hard to connect this to sales numbers. But if the consumer team speaks of changes to consumer behavior, that translation is a lot easier for everyone to comprehend. Consumer marketing teams must be able to clearly identify what changes in consumption are being targeted. Which consumers are going to consume differently, and how will that consumption change. A change in consumption behavior is easier to translate into a change in shopping behavior. And it is easy to understand the impact a change in shopping behavior will have on sales. Without a clear understanding of consumer and shopper behavior, sales and marketing alignment is a lot harder.

Align KPIs

A focus on behavior, and a connection between the behavior of consumers and shoppers is a good start. But sales and marketing alignment needs more if it is to be sustainable. To keep teams working in the same direction, there needs to be an alignment in KPIs, too.

Different functions have different KPIs, and so they should. After all they have different roles to play. The ability to connect a clear and quantified consumption opportunity to a specific shopper objective is crucial as it makes it possible for shopper marketing teams and sales teams to have KPIs which go beyond driving sales numbers.  KPIs which encompass making specific changes in the retail environment, which in turn are tuned to changing a specific shopper’s behavior – the same shopping behavior required to create the desired change in consumer behavior. Different teams have different KPIs, relevant to their role. A KPI measuring consumer attitude and behavior: KPIs measuring the behavior of target shoppers: KPIs detailing specific changes to the retail environment. All different, and all owned by different functions, but aligned behind a common goal – driving brand consumption.

Integrate Plans

If the plans don’t fit together, then don’t expect the execution to gel either. Many organizations create a marketing plan, and then build in the rest of the commercial team on a needs basis. Start with a consumer plan by all means, then build in the shopper and trade components. But don’t sign off the brand plan and then force fit the rest. No plans are signed off until all the plans are complete and aligned.

Allow constructive tension

Don’t expect everyone to agree on everything. That would be a bad idea. It is perfectly possible to disagree and then reach alignment afterwards. KPIs help this process, as does a common language. Different functions have different roles, and different goals, and that’s OK. Tension is good as long as nothing snaps. And that requires dialog.

No-one died through over-communication

Whilst “loose lips can sink ships” in war time, have a think. How many issues in your business can you think of that were caused by too much communication? How many by too little? Exactly.

Less meetings, more purpose

More communication yes, but please, not more meetings. Meetings should be brilliant ways to create sales and marketing alignment, but often, they aren’t. Most meetings don’t work. So, don’t start with meetings. Start with meeting. There’s a difference. Meet, discuss. Compare and understand. Then work out what needs discussing and agreeing on a regular basis. Then arrange meetings around those regular discussion and decision needs.

Cross-fertilize

Get marketing people to work in sales. And vice versa. Not for just a month either. The best way to learn a foreign language is to go to that country. The same thing goes for different functions.

Create integrated ways of working

Define processes which require integration. A lot of business processes are brilliantly complex and comprehensive for the most part, but don’t specify the why, what, who, when and how of communication. The output might be brilliant but if it isn’t shared it isn’t leveraged.

Measure interaction

When we first work with a client, to assess how a business functions, we use an online survey tool, EngageAssess™.   EngageAssess™ checks the quality of processes being used, but also checks a number of other measures. One of those measures is the communication of outputs. We can map inputs used in an activity with the outputs of other processes received. For example, if a trade marketing process requires three specific inputs, we measure if they exist, and if they are used. We measure what is created, what is shared, what is received and what is used. The disparity between one team who say they communicate something, and the other functions who say they receive it (let alone use it), is amazing. If integration is important, then measure it and make communication part of the team’s KPIs.

…and reward it

If, as a manager, you want integration, measure it and reward it. Don’t just reward sales, or market share, or award gongs: reward the behavior you want. Give prizes for “best integrated work”, or even “most effective meeting”.

Sales and marketing alignment – However early you start, it’s too late!

Plan early. Share early. Whatever you are doing now, imagine what would happen if you’d shared a month earlier. Perhaps six months earlier. How much more input could you have got? How many obstacles would have come up earlier, giving much more time to plan, more time to communicate, share, and understand.

Take action towards sales and marketing alignment now

There are simple steps that anyone in business can take to start this process. Be it designing new ways of working, investing in shopper research, or merely making a commitment to meet more regularly with your peers in other functions. Share your progress and challenges in the comments below, and we’ll try to help.

 

sales and marketing alignmentThere are many benefits of making shopper marketing a part of your business, of making your business more shopper-centric. But there is one benefit that we see again and again from our work with clients. Businesses that make shopper a part of the way they do business are far more successful at integrating marketing and sales activities than those that do not. How does shopper marketing help bring marketing and sales teams closer together, and what practical steps can you take to use shopper to help create better sales and marketing alignment?

How shopper marketing helps with sales and marketing alignment

Creates a common language

Sales and Marketing alignment is going to be difficult without a common language. The shopper is the ‘Rosetta Stone’ which helps connect the world of consumers to that of retailers. Consumer marketers must be able to express their goals in a way which can translate into product sales; product sales happen when retailers support brands in ways that encourage shoppers to buy products. So, shoppers link consumer activity to retail off-take.

If the consumer team can clearly articulate (and quantify) the specific change in consumer behavior that they are targeting, then that can be translated into a required shopping behavior. If, for example, the consumer goal is to drive penetration among teenagers – i.e. get teenagers to drink something they currently do not – then someone’s shopping behavior needs to change too. That change in shopping behavior can be understood by shopper marketers, and in turn explains what a sales team will need to do (for example, to make changes to the in-store environment to encourage moms to buy a certain product for their teenage kids, or to get teens to do it for themselves).

How to use shopper marketing to help sales and marketing alignment

Focus on behavior

While the use of a shopper link creates the possibility to translate consumer marketing speak into something sales teams can understand, it only goes so far. In our experience a focus on behavior is key to link consumer to shopper to retail. Facebook ‘likes’ are all very well, but sales teams (and, to be honest, pretty much everyone!) finds it hard to connect this to sales numbers. But if the consumer team speaks of changes to consumer behavior, that translation is a lot easier for everyone to comprehend. Consumer marketing teams must be able to clearly identify what changes in consumption are being targeted. Which consumers are going to consume differently, and how will that consumption change. A change in consumption behavior is easier to translate into a change in shopping behavior. And it is easy to understand the impact a change in shopping behavior will have on sales. Without a clear understanding of consumer and shopper behavior, sales and marketing alignment is a lot harder.

Align KPIs

A focus on behavior, and a connection between the behavior of consumers and shoppers is a good start. But sales and marketing alignment needs more if it is to be sustainable. To keep teams working in the same direction, there needs to be an alignment in KPIs, too.

Different functions have different KPIs, and so they should. After all they have different roles to play. The ability to connect a clear and quantified consumption opportunity to a specific shopper objective is crucial as it makes it possible for shopper marketing teams and sales teams to have KPIs which go beyond driving sales numbers.  KPIs which encompass making specific changes in the retail environment, which in turn are tuned to changing a specific shopper’s behavior – the same shopping behavior required to create the desired change in consumer behavior. Different teams have different KPIs, relevant to their role. A KPI measuring consumer attitude and behavior: KPIs measuring the behavior of target shoppers: KPIs detailing specific changes to the retail environment. All different, and all owned by different functions, but aligned behind a common goal – driving brand consumption.

Integrate Plans

If the plans don’t fit together, then don’t expect the execution to gel either. Many organizations create a marketing plan, and then build in the rest of the commercial team on a needs basis. Start with a consumer plan by all means, then build in the shopper and trade components. But don’t sign off the brand plan and then force fit the rest. No plans are signed off until all the plans are complete and aligned.

Allow constructive tension

Don’t expect everyone to agree on everything. That would be a bad idea. It is perfectly possible to disagree and then reach alignment afterwards. KPIs help this process, as does a common language. Different functions have different roles, and different goals, and that’s OK. Tension is good as long as nothing snaps. And that requires dialog.

No-one died through over-communication

Whilst “loose lips can sink ships” in war time, have a think. How many issues in your business can you think of that were caused by too much communication? How many by too little? Exactly.

Less meetings, more purpose

More communication yes, but please, not more meetings. Meetings should be brilliant ways to create sales and marketing alignment, but often, they aren’t. Most meetings don’t work. So, don’t start with meetings. Start with meeting. There’s a difference. Meet, discuss. Compare and understand. Then work out what needs discussing and agreeing on a regular basis. Then arrange meetings around those regular discussion and decision needs.

Cross-fertilize

Get marketing people to work in sales. And vice versa. Not for just a month either. The best way to learn a foreign language is to go to that country. The same thing goes for different functions.

Create integrated ways of working

Define processes which require integration. A lot of business processes are brilliantly complex and comprehensive for the most part, but don’t specify the why, what, who, when and how of communication. The output might be brilliant but if it isn’t shared it isn’t leveraged.

Measure interaction

When we first work with a client, to assess how a business functions, we use an online survey tool, EngageAssess™.   EngageAssess™ checks the quality of processes being used, but also checks a number of other measures. One of those measures is the communication of outputs. We can map inputs used in an activity with the outputs of other processes received. For example, if a trade marketing process requires three specific inputs, we measure if they exist, and if they are used. We measure what is created, what is shared, what is received and what is used. The disparity between one team who say they communicate something, and the other functions who say they receive it (let alone use it), is amazing. If integration is important, then measure it and make communication part of the team’s KPIs.

…and reward it

If, as a manager, you want integration, measure it and reward it. Don’t just reward sales, or market share, or award gongs: reward the behavior you want. Give prizes for “best integrated work”, or even “most effective meeting”.

Sales and marketing alignment – However early you start, it’s too late!

Plan early. Share early. Whatever you are doing now, imagine what would happen if you’d shared a month earlier. Perhaps six months earlier. How much more input could you have got? How many obstacles would have come up earlier, giving much more time to plan, more time to communicate, share, and understand.

Take action towards sales and marketing alignment now

There are simple steps that anyone in business can take to start this process. Be it designing new ways of working, investing in shopper research, or merely making a commitment to meet more regularly with your peers in other functions. Share your progress and challenges in the comments below, and we’ll try to help.

 

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