Building awareness, driving trips and growing the basket — together

Retailers and suppliers leverage common insights, shared media to reach customers

CHICAGO — In order to win in today’s shopper environment, retailers and suppliers need to approach marketing programs in a whole different way — together. It all comes down to two key words: shared media.

That was the message two highly savvy marketers had for Shopper Marketing Expo attendees, during Wednesday morning’s opening keynote session. Jocelyn Wong, chief marketing officer for Family Dollar, and Alison Lewis, SVP marketing North America for the Coca-Cola Co., explained how traditional marketing models are being replaced by a new, higher form of collaboration between enlightened retailers and manufacturers — a model where partners develop a common audience and a common message in an effort to drive trips, induce trial and engender loyalty among consumers.

Jocelyn Wong

That’s because a one-size-fits all marketing program just doesn’t drive the consumer traffic it once did; and few retailers, if any, have a one-size-fits-all view of their customers any more. Retailers don’t seem themselves as a collection of stores; today, they see themselves as brands in their own right.

“Retailers are starting to demand customization,” Wong explained. “Retailers are no longer just place[s] where you go to buy things. [They] have become powerhouse brands, and as they start to think of themselves more as brands, there’s a need for greater collaboration [with suppliers],” she said.

By definition, “shared media” implies close collaboration between retailer and supplier from inception all the way through execution of a marketing program. When executed effectively, this strategic approach to shopper communication along the path to purchase helps transform the entire shopping experience, and helps connect the dots between the manufacturer’s objectives and a retailer’s traffic and conversion goals.

“The world has changed,” Lewis said. “The new school is much more about how we work together; to think about how do we get to the win-win-win between the retailer, the brand and the shopper — and it has to be a three-way win across all of those groups. We’re in a world now of co-creation; not just deal-making.”

Wong and Lewis identified five key steps and two critical phases, in which retailers and suppliers must work together in order to build a successful, customized promotion. The first phase is foundation building, which starts with an assessment of the shared insights a CPG company’s brand and a retailer’s brand hold in common, strategy development and alignment — what are the goals the retailer and manufacturer need to reach in order for the program to be considered a success?

The second phase is the actual creation of the program. This is major departure from the past, when program creation is where retailers and CPG companies started their collaboration, Wong and Lewis explained. “In the past, the focus was much more on the building of programs and not as much on the front end [assessment and alignment of brand strategies],” Lewis said. “The foundation building is a really important piece.” This “creation” phase is where the program moves from development to execution and measurement.

To bring the message home in a meaningful and relevant way, Wong and Lewis detailed an important program for which Family Dollar and Coca-Cola partnered together. The campaign needed to help meet an important goal for Family Dollar: helping to raise awareness among its customers for the number of value-priced, mainstream brands available at its stores — an area in which Family Dollar had not traditionally received a lot of credit from customers, and a perception it desperately wanted to change — as well as to drive trips and grow the market basket.

Critical to these types of programs is a keen understanding of the retailer and its target customer, Wong explained. As much as 65% of Family Dollar’s customer base has an annual household income of less than $40,000, she noted; 30% of its customers have an annual income of less than $20,000.

“I want [partners] to empathize with our customer. It’s not just about knowing that she doesn’t make a lot of money; that she’s struggling,” Wong said. “When you actually get to know our customer, you will find that she is tough, resilient … and she’s proud [and] optimistic.”

Aimed at helping enable Family Dollar customers to “say yes to moments of happiness,” as the program was dubbed, the companies collaborated on a comprehensive social media outreach through Twitter and Facebook, Wong said. The message was “[When] you think about snacking for your family, think about Coca-Cola.” Other important components of the program included in-store point-of-purchase material, freestanding inserts and bus station ad placements.

“That’s how we really thought about bringing the whole plan together,” Wong said. “The importance of it is not really the tactical elements, but it’s the thinking that went into it and the insights that actually led to what the plan could be.”

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