Here’s the thing: Shopper Marketing is really a retailer function.
CPG brands can agree to participate in retailer-led programs, and they can show leadership in terms of bringing ideas to appropriate chains, but at the end of the day, a retailer with good segmentation and purchase data can drive the ROI like nobody’s business.
Retailers will control your success in this space. Period. And just like they realized long ago that they were in the real estate business and could rent you end caps and tags that would drive incremental cases, today your store partners understand that they’re in the data business. And they’re planning to control and leverage that data to their best advantage.
When the first “club cards” were introduced nearly 20 years ago, there was talk about using them to develop customer loyalty, but they were actually the cost of entry to get ad discounts. The bright, shining promise was that all this purchase history data would eventually lead to an end to coupons and weekly circulars and in its place, customer-specific marketing. A world where top customers would be embraced and satisfied because we could anticipate their needs before they knew they had them. A place where cherry pickers need not apply because mass offers of below-cost ad specials would be so very prehistoric. Where second-tier customers could be attracted and retained because we could provide meaningful offers on products they actually wanted. A relationship built on loyalty.
That day is finally here.
It actually started arriving about five years ago at a handful of companies and it’s spreading quickly.
For retailers, this is a chance to finally change the game. A game where it’s all about the weekly ad and associated income. Where you don’t have to give away unproductive markdowns and live and die by how we did against the competition on lead features last week.
For CPG companies, your promotional funds need to be reallocated — and fast! It’s amazing that we still see companies that are more comfortable funding an FSI drop than they are an e-blast sent to a discreet list of shoppers likely to buy your products. Or an e-coupon loaded directly onto a customer rewards card that automatically deducts at the checkout. Is it because it’s easier to prove to the boss that you’re promoting when they see an actual coupon?
For agencies, yes, your paradigm continues to shift. But if you’re still here, you learned to adapt and grow even before the chaos scenario sent so many of our best and brightest into screenwriting. The good news is that the top of the purchase funnel still needs to be filled. Compelling stories need to be told. On television. In stores. On smart phones. In 140 characters or less.
As a customer, I’m excited that I’ll be getting more interesting and relevant offers. As a marketer, I’m ready to help our clients steal share from brands that can’t adapt.