As the report's introduction notes, the shopper marketing sector has more money pouring into it than ever before, and continues to grow rapidly. Based on a recent Deloitte/GMA study, shopper marketing budgets are growing in excess of 21% per year, versus the industry-leading Internet, which is managing a "mere" 15% annual growth rate these days. At this rate, shopper marketing expenditures might reach 8% of total marketing budgets by 2010, which as the report notes, is over half of what the industry currently spends on consumer promotion. So what is shopper marketing, you ask? Like virtually everything else in the marketing world, there are some disagreements about how to define it. However, the HUB settled on a fairly concise definition:
Understanding how one's target consumers behave as shoppers in different channels and formats and leveraging this intelligence to the benefit of all stakeholders -- brands, target consumers, retailers and mutual shoppers.When asked, the survey's respondents primarily suggested things like promotional strategy, in-store POS, marketing strategy and display design. Self-service kiosks, digital signs and all of the newfangled stuff that we deal with on a day-to-day basis were not mentioned. Why? Because shopper marketing is about the message, not the medium. Whether the work done on the communication strategy is executed on a static poster or an LCD display makes no difference to the pool of advertisers, brands and retailers tapped by the study. This makes more sense today than ever, given the ever-increasing number of media that you can deliver a message on.
What are the goals of those executing shopper marketing strategies? Not surprisingly, the number one response was "improved sales" (something brands and retailers can actually agree on!), followed by "softer" benefits like improved loyalty, improved ROA, etc. My favorite part of the report (and if you're new to shopper marketing and need to get up-to-speed fast, it's the part that probably makes the whole thing worth the price of admission) defines a set of best practices, objectives and organizational implications for reaching your shopper marketing objectives. I wouldn't feel right about spilling the beans entirely, given that this is supposed to be a paid report, but I will say this: the woes of the shopper marketing manager sound a lot like those of the digital signage manager. It seems that we're not the only industry plagued by projects not being driven from the top-down, not getting the proper buy-in from all of the different departments and agencies that will need to touch it in order to make it a success, and not having enough guaranteed funds over enough time to make sure that the project not only gets off the ground, but actually is given a chance to thrive.
But back to the beginning of this post: presumably there are agencies out there that know all of this stuff already. These select few have learned how to navigate around a lot of the obvious pitfalls when undertaking a new project. Who are they? Well, according to the roughly 750 respondents in the HUB survey, the top ten shopper marketing agencies are:
- Mars Advertising
- Saatchi & Saatchi X
- Ryan Partnership
- Catapult Marketing
- Malone Advertising
- Alcone Marketing Group
- Marketing Drive
- The Integer Group
So is the HUB study worth buying? At $400 (at press time), it's certainly a lot cheaper than many other reports that pertain to our industry, so it's a fairly small investment. However, unless you feel that shopper marketing strategy is something you need to understand to make your project successful, there's probably not a whole lot that you'll find to be useful. In fact, the report might best be used as a jumping off point for companies just starting out with a new retail marketing project, especially if they don't have a huge amount of expertise in that area to begin with. Of course, if you're shopping around for a shopper marketing agency, it offers a good overview of the relative strengths and weaknesses of some of the top agencies in the biz, according to a lot of people who are (more or less) in the know.
To learn more about shopper marketing, you can start by reading the synopsis of the HUB survey (or of course you can purchase their full report if you like). You might also be interested in our other articles on this topic, including how to use shopper marketing to improve the store experience, best practices for leveraging shopper insights to drive retail success, and why you should run shopper marketing experiments. Finally, if you need help integrating digital signs and kiosks into a shopper marketing strategy, feel free to contact us to discuss your project.
Have you worked with any of the "top" companies listed in the HUB survey? If so, what was the most surprising or insightful thing you learned from that relationship? Leave a comment and let me know.