The rise of shopper marketing

GlaxoSmithKline's Nicole Rocheleau reflects on how the relatively new discipline cemented itself in the marketing mix this year.

Shopper marketing has steadily picked up steam in the industry, and 2011 was the year it really cemented itself as a core brand-building discipline.
This year, strategy expanded its Shopper Marketing Forum, with hundreds of delegates in attendance from retail, manufacturers and agencies, and launched its online Shopper Marketing Report. Meanwhile, DDB Canada introduced its Shopper DDB division, helmed by new VP of shopper marketing Jason Dubroy (formerly of Spider Marketing). And in a clear sign that shopper marketing is more than just a passing fad, Canadian manufacturers invested in building up in-house teams to tackle the new discipline.
“Shopper marketing straddles between consumer marketing and sales, and to be successful, needs to be integrated into both,” says Nicole Rocheleau, group shopper marketing manager, GlaxoSmithKline. “Having an in-house specialist or department that is focused on shopper marketing is important because it supports an unbiased and focused approach that can ensure a better balance between the needs of the brand and that of the shopper and retailer.”
GlaxoSmithKline began assembling a dedicated shopper marketing team last year and increased its efforts in 2011, which Rocheleau says has not only delivered growth for its brands but also total category growth for its retailers.
Of course, this is just the beginning. As DDB Canada president and COO David Leonard told strategy in our November issue, “[Shopper marketing in Canada is] still about three years behind what’s going on in the U.S. in terms of sophistication and client budget commitment. But if you think about what online felt like 10 years ago, this is what shopper marketing is starting to feel like in this country.”
Moving forward into 2012, Rocheleau says one of the biggest challenges is measurement.
“As organizations push for increased efficiency with limited budgets, shopper marketing as the newer kid on the block is often tasked to deliver strong ROI out of the gate,” she says. “While some tactics and executions are easier to measure, the industry is still working to develop tools that can better measure the holistic and longer-term impact of shopper marketing initiatives. As measurement capabilities improve, we will not only be able to use the learnings to improve our programs and their ROI but also build further credibility for how they can drive sales results and help build brand equity.”

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