Shopper Marketing Forum: the experts weigh in

Industry pros such as Google's Catherine Roe and Kraft Canada's Melissa Martin talk shopper habits, journeys and motivations.

About 300 marketers, retailers and agency personnel filled the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library yesterday for day one of the Shopper Marketing Forum, co-presented by strategy magazine and Launch!

Morning keynote Dr. Neal Martin, founder and CEO, Sublime Behavior Marketing, and author of the book Habit: The 95% of Behavior Marketers Ignore, kicked off the day, speaking about the power of the unconscious mind in making purchasing decisions.

All the old marketing models are based on the belief that humans are rational beings making conscious decisions, he told the audience, but in fact most behaviour is happening at an unconscious level.

According to Martin, the brain can be divided into two minds: the executive mind (the powerful and rational conscious) and the habitual mind (the hidden and emotional unconscious), and the habitual mind is normally doing the shopping.

‘If someone is on autopilot mode and we’re trying to get them to try something new, we’re fighting an uphill battle,’ he said. ‘Retail decisions are profoundly affected by where our consumers fall along the continuum of automation.’

Additionally, a change in store layout, or one that’s overly complicated, makes it difficult for a customer to attend to buying things, because the brain is busy mapping out the new layout, he said.

Martin raised the notion of reinforcement vs. punishment, and how, if a store forces a customer to do something he or she doesn’t want to (such as follow a path that’s counterintuitive), the punishment is that customer may not want to shop there.

Martin pointed to Quebec’s SAQ, a liquor, wine and spirits retailer, as an example of a Canadian retailer that has given its customers reinforcement and incentives to explore its stores, such as the introduction of Taste Tags and store makeovers.

In closing, Martin advised: ‘Don’t work against the unconscious mind, work with it. Make it so they want to come to your store, so it’s really easy.’ For manufacturers, he said the question to ask is, ‘Do I do something that makes you reach for my product on the shelf?’

The future of shopper marketing

Next up, Dr. Brian Harris, founder of the Cincinnati, Ohio-based The Partnering Group, and his partner Julie Beck, spoke on ‘The Future of Shopper Marketing.’

As Harris pointed out, definitions of shopper marketing and approaches vary all over the world, but the strategic value is beginning to be understood.

‘The challenge,’ he said, ‘is to get some organization, commonality of reference and understanding of shopper marketing before we can move forward.’

Unlike category management, which started with retailers, shopper marketing is coming from manufacturers, he said, and many retailers don’t understand where it fits in their plans.

Creating more commonality in the steps of shopper marketing will move the conversation from ‘what is shopper marketing?’ to how to do it, he said.

To this point, Harris spoke about his work with the Retail Commission on Shopper Marketing, which comprised marketing and merchandising executives from 10 leading US retailers, and its ‘Shopper Marketing Best Practices: A Collaborative Model for Retailers and Manufacturers’ report (available online).

Harris walked the audience through a program between Walgreens and Hershey’s, wherein each one found a shopper/customer segment that aligned with the other’s and then developed a ‘Don’t stop summer fun’ program, spanning in-store display, radio, TV, digital and coupons.

Not only did the program boost Hershey’s sales and increase Walgreens’ basket size, it brought with it two key learnings: that sharing consumer and shopper insights makes the difference and that the retailer and manufacturer must co-lead the work.

Harris’s work on a European commission built on this US work, with the report ‘ECR Europe’s Guide: Understanding Consumer & Shopper Journeys’ to be presented at an ECR conference in Brussels April 5 to 6.

Lessons learned from the campaign trail

While a select group of attendees hurried off to spend 30 minutes with Uwe Stueckmann, SVP of marketing, Loblaw Companies, the rest of the audience listened as Charlie Anderson, CEO North America, Saatchi & Saatchi X, shared ‘Lessons Learned from the Campaign Trail.’

Anderson provided the example of working with Frito-Lay on a program that brought chips and dips into the same aisle, led by the knowledge that if consumers have leftover dip in the fridge, they’re likely to buy more chips. Tested in 100 stores and later rolled out to 100,000, the change resulted in a 70% category boost, with dips growing 12%.

Several examples touched on brand partnerships with Walmart, such as the cross-promotion of sports-branded Gillette razors in the store’s electronics department and a Tide campaign with aisle caps that featured a battery-powered mini washing machine to capture shoppers’ attention.

Shopper journeys and habits

After the lunch break, BrandSpark unveiled the results of its 2011 Canadian Shopper Study, while Andrew Assad, chief storyteller, Microsoft Advertising, met with a smaller group to speak on ‘The New Shopper’s Journey’ and to share the learning from research done with Carat.

Through an interactive true-or-false conversation, Assad showed that three fundamentals have changed the shopper journey: media consumption across devices, social media strategy and post-purchase behaviour.

His presentation highlighted the role of digital, revealing that when it comes to the purchase journey, digital (websites, online ads) is a trigger 25% of the time, it aids in research 57% of the time and it’s used post-purchase 11% of the time (for instance, to post a review of the product or store).

Kraft’s recipe for shopper marketing success

The next talk kicked off with an excerpt of Kraft Canada’s What’s Cooking show, after which the brand’s Melissa Martin and Steve McGraw outlined the fundamental ‘ingredients’ for shopper marketing programs: they must be insight driven and shopper centric, have retailer collaboration and result in sustainable growth.

Martin and McGraw also outlined Kraft’s shopper activation pathway: identify the retail opportunity; harness insight; develop a customized solution; and create an impactful activation. A look at the Kraft Hockeyville program and a made-in-Quebec retailer program revealed how this pathway could be effectively followed.

Martin closed with a call to ‘stay true to the strategic fundamentals, create a process that works for you, and measure and report your ROI.’ As she pointed out, the value of shopper marketing needs to be demonstrated in order to build faith within organizations.

Digital integration in the path to purchase

Google’s Chicago-based head of CPG, Catherine Roe, and her Canadian counterpart, Chantal Rossi Badia, spoke next, tackling ‘Digital Integration in the Path to Purchase.’

Roe said that a new step has been added to the conventional path to purchase, falling in between the stimulus (i.e., the ad declaring that the product exists) and the first moment of truth (when a customer finds the item on the shelf). This new step is the zero moment of truth, when a customer goes online to research products before buying. (After the second moment of truth – when they test the product themselves – they may also return online to share feedback.)

The zero moment of truth is important since a customer who has done their research before shopping will, on average, spend 20% more, Roe said. And that number can be higher in specific instances: Roe pointed out that shoppers who go to before visiting the store spend 60% more.

The value of digital was driven home by Google’s March 2010 Canada Moms Study, which found that when moms are interested in a product or service they see on TV or in a newspaper, 70% go online to gather additional information, while only 12% go to the store to buy or gather information and 10% turn to family or friends.

In fact, Google found that in 2009, 83% of customers made their purchase decision pre-store, up from 75% the year before.

‘By leveraging the zero moment of truth, you’re able to get more people to store,’ said Roe, pointing out how important targeted search can be in mobilizing customers to engage with local retailers and brands.

But targeted search doesn’t just happen on the desktop. Badia pointed out that in November 2010, 10% of shopping queries in Canada were mobile. Right now, smartphones are at 34% penetration in Canada, a number that will grow to 50% by 2014, she said.

Furthermore, she said, one in three mobile searches is completed with a local intent, and after looking up a local business on their smartphone, 61% of users called the business and 59% visited. Once in-store, 79% of smartphone internet users use their phone to gather information, Google found.

Despite all this, Badia said, 79% of large online advertisers do not have a mobile optimized site – which she flagged as a major concern.

‘As you’re thinking about these shopper marketing initiatives, think about mobile,’ she advised. ‘As brands, think about creating a great mobile experience as well.’

Examining ROI

The final speaker, Kerry Gilfillan, vice president, global shopper insights, IMI International, began with some sobering facts: 82% of marketing programs don’t achieve their objectives and 60% don’t generate the required awareness for sales.

‘Marketers need to expand their awareness from the consumer who uses the product to the shopper who puts it into the basket,’ he said.

Gilfillan countered Neal Martin’s earlier points about shopping on autopilot, saying that 47% of shoppers usually walk all the aisles to be sure they’re not missing anything and that while 44% say they almost always buy the same brands, 41% say they are not concerned about the brand as long as it delivers what they need.

He also threw into question the amount of attention being focused on digital, sharing IMI research finding that 64% of people said they ignore the advertisements on social media sites, while only 15% are clicking on ads to get more info. Meanwhile, he pointed out, 63% said mobile marketing was intrusive.

He argued that digital advertising needs to be targeted and relevant, and that mobile marketing must be focused on showing ‘what’s in it for me’ rather than acting as mass marketing.

Outlining IMI’s segmentation model, he said that marketers must understand both the type of shopper and the type of trip.

In closing, Gilfillan advised: ‘Apply the same rigour of concept testing and advertising measurement to shopper marketing programs. You can’t own the last three feet until you first own the path to purchase.’