SMF Day 2: Real world applications

Experts at the strategy-sponsored Shopper Marketing Forum talk Target's arrival, P&G's in-store philosophy and what brands can learn from NYC's Duane Reade.

Day two of the 2011 Shopper Marketing Forum saw attendees treated to success stories from heavyweights in the world of shopper marketing, and an insightful discussion from a panel of esteemed retail experts on what Canadian retailers are doing now that Target has set its sights north of the border.

The morning got underway with a talk from Kristin Nostrand, global customer and channel marketing leader at Proctor & Gamble, on the five insights the CPG monolith imparts to its brands in order to bring them to life in-store, tracking all the way back through the path to purchase. All of the insights, said Nostrand, have to follow great design principles (intuitive, relevant and distinct, timely and cohesive, flexible), working in cohesion with shopper principles.

‘We have to marry [design principles] with what the shopper needs when she’s in the in-store environment and that’s making it simple for her – literally just telling her what the brand does, who it is, and guiding her within the brand,’ said Nostrand. ‘And then just like in any experience, she wants to be delighted, he wants to be delighted, in that in-store experience.’

The first insight Nostrand listed was that brands must think big in-store. Nostrand used P&G’s Gain detergent brand as an example. Recognizing that customers were frustrated they couldn’t experience the scent-oriented product in-store, P&G developed Gain’s love-at-first-sniff positioning, encouraging people to take the cap off in the shopping aisle.

Nostrand’s second insight revolved around what she calls ‘the fantastic journey,’ or the path from product exposure to purchase.

‘If we start with the 30-second commercial as the idea, and we think that the assets that are in that 30-second commercial are the exact same assets that need to be translated all throughout the journey, we will really miss opportunities to engage her or him.’

She pointed out an initiative on the part of Charmin toilet paper, which built a digital community around an app called Sit or Squat. Brought to life by the Charmin bears, it allowed people to rate public washrooms, engaging them in an entertaining way when they were in need of the product.

The third insight revolved around branding balance – how shopability enhances iconic branding. Nostrand noted that all consumers want a premium experience. Using P&G’s Olay skincare line as an example, she explained how P&G considers Olay products all the way through to the purchase decision, taking into account overall packaging strategy, shelf organization (by product family) and in-store information.

Partnership with a brand’s retailer is key, she said, and can help create ‘win-win-win innovation’ with both parties and consumers. She cited a global industry initiative launched last spring called ‘New Ways of Working Together,’ a cooperative of retailer and manufacturer executives which works to develop best practices that bring the shopper to the centre of mutual objectives.

‘Bringing him, or her, into the room then gives us that common group so that we can get the metrics in place so that we’re all rewarded on similar things, which would include helping her make that shopping experience more delightful and therefore rewarding all of us who are contributing to that proportionately.’

Nostrand’s final piece of wisdom focused on what she called ‘brand karma’ and how brands are profitable if they do good, revolving around the need to understand how products fit into consumers’ lives. To illustrate, she spoke of an initiative near and dear to her heart, ‘Dawn ducks.’ An initiative launched by Nostrand, it saw P&G providing its Dawn product to environmentalists to help clean up animals caught in oil spills, which was played out across the brand’s path to purchase.

Following Nostrand, a panel of retail experts including Maureen Atkinson, senior partner, JC Williams Group, Kevin Lund, global VP of grocery, Perennial and Sandra Sanderson, SVP marketing, Shoppers Drug Mart, sat down to discuss how Canadian retailers can maintain their competitive edge given the imminent arrival of American retailer Target in Canada.

Moderated by forum advisor Jason Dubroy, VP consumer and shopper strategy, Spider Marketing Solutions, they addressed issues including the impact of Target’s arrival, how Canadian private labels and house brands will fare, Target’s strengths and weaknesses, differences between shoppers and retailers in Canada and the US, and whether Target will change the way Canadians shop.

The panelists noted, among other things, that those who will be most vulnerable following Target’s arrival will be general merchandisers like Sears, but every retailer will be thinking about how to respond to its entry into the Canadian market.

‘I think that the big question that hasn’t been answered yet, from Target themselves, is what aspects of their offer are they bringing up and inserting in the space,’ said Lund. ‘They’ve been very aggressive in the last 10 years of trying to slowly reinvent themselves.’ He added that Canadian retailers will have to have the ability to be flexible and a willingness to adjust to the market as per the size and footprint of some of the Target locations that will be coming into the country.

‘I think it goes back to our value proposition,’ added Sanderson. ‘At Shoppers Drug Mart, for us, it’s all about health, beauty and convenience, so those are the areas that we’re going to be looking to ensure that we elevate the bar for ourselves so that we’re in a better position to compete.

The final presentation of the day came from Joe Jackman, CEO, Joe Jackman Brand, who was given a glowing introduction by John Lederer, president and CEO, US Foodservice. Both men helped lead the transformation team that allowed the once-maligned American drugstore company Duane Reade to remerge as one of the country’s most lauded, and the dominant player in the New York drugstore market, using the mantra ‘New York Living Made Easy.’

Jackman discussed how a unique understanding of New York’s culture, based on the brand’s ubiquity in the city, informed every step of the transformation process, ultimately setting up the city itself as Duane Reade’s point of differentiation. The result, said Jackman, was a brand completely in sync with New Yorkers – understanding its customer and what matters most to them. It was a strategy that remarkably resulted in the company being bought out by one of its largest competitors, Walgreens, for over $1 billion during a recession.