By John Viccars, Head of Strategy, RPM
Cutting through in an increasingly cluttered retail space to connect with shoppers is something that all brands are battling with. So how can you make your brand stand out and connect with shoppers? With ever more complex paths to purchase it can be hard to know how best to give your shopper marketing a boost. Through our experience working on many shopper campaigns over the years, we have come up with our six ways to supercharge your shopper marketing.
- Align with retailers’ agendas
Have you ever felt like other brands know things you don’t when it comes to activating outsider retailer templates or how much incremental space they have in store? It could be because they are just better at aligning (perhaps without even knowing they are), with their retailer’s agendas. Over our 24 years of RPM we’ve learnt that aligning with the strategic agendas is an essential for all our best shopper campaigns. If you don’t win over retailers by aligning with their agendas, it will be very hard to win with shoppers. It will also be hard to change your shelf positioning, break free from retailer templates or reduce the amount of time your products are on price promotion. We’ve been developing ways to gather all the impactful insights to help us align with retailers’ agendas – from mapping their business landscape and what opportunities that might generate, to understanding each retailer’s unique shopper audiences and what effect that should have on our overall strategy. We call these bespoke strategic retailer plans an ‘RPM Retailer Bible’ – allowing brands to build stronger, more collaborative and longer relationships with retailers.
- Think shelf-back
When POPAI found that 76% of purchase decisions are made in-store, the industry stirred and started prioritising more the point of sale. As marketers, we should be influencing people right across the path to purchase, but if in-store is where the actual decision is made, isn’t that the true marketing battleground? P&G call it the ‘First Moment of Truth’ – the moment in which our audience have their first opportunity to truly engage with what we are trying to sell to them. So if in-store is the real battleground, we need to think back from the consumer’s ultimate barrier to purchase at the shelf-edge first, mapping the path to purchase backwards from there. Mapping back from this ultimate moment of truth ensures the hardest barrier to overcome is kept at the heart of the campaign strategy, leading to a better focus on the right problems to solve and more effective conversion.
By recognising an insightful shopper purchase barrier and developing work that meets that unmet need, you can avoid the at-shelf environment becoming a graveyard for great NPD and undeniably brilliant communications ideas that appeal to us all as consumers, but fail to cut through and impact shopper behaviour. It will also help your relationship with your customers, who will of course be motivated by a big-spending TV campaign, but day in day out, they’re focusing on maximising the return from their shelf space. They are much more likely to look favourably on those brands that make it their business to close the purchase loop in-store, at shelf, often unlocking discretionary display ops.
- Unlock the true power of occasions
Occasions are powerful ways to unlock opportunities at shelf and with consumers. They are the mental shortcuts that can make a huge difference to your shopper marketing. The way our memory works, occasions are one of the most efficient and easy to build memory structures for brands. We have an episodic memory – storing events and experience- which enables us to create mental shortcuts between things and moments. Think of a sunny summer afternoon in a park, or Christmas – what are the brands that come to mind? Context helps our brains to create long-lasting associations between brands and occasions. This is especially important in the retail environment because shoppers shop with the occasion in mind. Depending on the shopping mission (impulse, weekly etc…) behaviours and motivations change, but the consumption occasion is the determining end goal for our shoppers. Providing the right occasion cues at the right time can sway consumers, triggering them to pick your brand for that specific occasion, which is why brands must strive to create durable behavioural loops and mental triggers that flex from occasions to shopper environments. Don’t just leverage occasions, make the most of them to create virtuous circles.
- Learn to spot effective shopper creative
To stop, engage and convert shoppers to purchase you need great creative ideas. Spotting them can be hard, but there are some characteristics that endure across great shopper creative. Firstly, great shopper creative is bold – in cluttered retail environments, it’s hard to stand out, often the single-minded messaging clearly executed will win out. Secondly, it pays off to be brave, so don’t be afraid to try something truly original. If the strategy behind it is strong, the creative can be brave. Concepts that really leverage desirability, like limited edition packs for example can work really well, as well as digital concepts that should not be ignored like mobile phone push notifications, social media conversations or digital displays. Most importantly, let your brand personality shine through and pull on the heartstrings of your target market – whether you are the instigator of fun or the bringer of light to the world. Being true to your brand will give you a much better chance of converting.
- Add value to trade away from deals
Getting trapped in a series of deals can do serious damage to your brand if you don’t find new ways to break the cycle. Deals aren’t going away, and they are often how shoppers navigate the store. However, the truth is that brands rarely get credit for their investment in price promotion as shoppers tend to believe it is retailers that they have to thank for cheaper products, not brands. Deals also reduce the opportunity for your products to be anything other than just practical solutions to functional problems. So while retailers benefit, it’s really a no win for your brand equity and long-term shopper behaviour change. When we shop we are thinking about occasions and unmet needs, so there is a real opportunity for emotionally engaging added value that can do far more for your brand than price cuts. There are endless opportunities here – for example, we’ve delivered festival tickets to raise awareness in the drinks category, as well as recipe cards and glassware. The best bit? They all involve investing less than you would on a standard piece of price promotion. When the story is based on deeper insights and better, more engaging brand experiences – you will create more powerful connections with shoppers without damaging your brand.
- Get out more
Only when we experience the things affecting our brands in real terms can we really understand them – letting them guide valuable strategic change. However, it can be hard to find the time to follow all the new trends and get out there and experience them. Whether it’s the latest cutting-edge tech being used in new flagship stores, underground consumer trends set to affect categories next year, or underground brands beating their biggest competitors on retail shelves, they will all affect your brand and you need to know about them. It’s vital to keep a track on what’s going on outside of your own brand, and these trends can provide inspiration and guidance to boost your shopper marketing. Getting out and experiencing these trends yourself will help you to convert in any retail environment as you know the things affecting your shoppers today, and what is likely coming around the corner.
To win with shoppers in retail you need to find ways to cut through all the noise and connect with them. These six ways to boost your shopper marketing will help you to do this, improving conversion in retail environments whether online or offline.