Pre-show symposium examines global best practices in shopper marketing

CHICAGO — The 2013 Shopper Marketing Expo kicked off with a bang as scores of shopper marketing professionals gathered here, at Navy Pier, Tuesday to “travel the globe” of shopper marketing innovation in a special pre-show symposium that examined the world’s cutting-edge programs.

The program, “Best-in-Class Shopper Marketing from Around the World,” was just 1-of-3 pre-show symposia that helped set the stage for the annual Shopper Marketing Expo conference — now in its 19th year — and the high-impact program of speakers and topics lined up for this year’s event, which runs through Oct. 10.

To shed light on market nuances, including shopper drivers and channel-specific challenges, and share insights on global business conditions and retailer opportunities, a group of key thought leaders co-hosted the five-part symposium, which also helped bring to life pivotal case studies from the coming new book, “Global Perspectives on Shopper Marketing,” scheduled for release in November. The book examines shopper-marketing programs executed between 2010 and 2013, highlighting key examples of companies that successfully translated shopper insights into collaborative actions at home and abroad.

“This symposium … marks a great accomplishment that was the hallmark of a long road [that] started out about a year ago, with the idea of publish[ing] the first book ever about … shopper marketing around the world,” Peter Hoyt, CEO and executive director of the Path to Purchase Institute, explained of the coming book. “We are constantly engaging [our members] … and a lot of [you] have told us, for a number of years, that … we would be wise to try to understand more of what is happening in other countries and other parts of the world.”

Peter Hoyt

To help tee up the discussion, Jonathan Dodd, global chief strategy officer of Geometry Global, talked to attendees about the concept of the “Purchase Decision Journey” as a framework for understanding shoppers’ underlying needs and motivations.

“The best work comes from the identification of clear, compelling insights that inspire great, creative ideas that are then executed brilliantly,” said Dodd. “What’s also striking, as I look at the selection of cases from around the world, is that ideas and insights don’t necessarily come from just one place — they come from a whole variety of places whether it’s a moment in time, a point along the purchase decision journey, an unmet need or an emotional connection. What stays true among all solutions is that they are the perfect combination of content and context.”

Dodd explained to attendees how digital is impacting all stages of the path to purchase and that behavior is reinforcing underlying cultural and geographic behaviors. For example, Latin Americans are focused on “deal seeking”; Asians are using social media to provide feedback; and North Americans are actively searching for coupons.

“It is true to say that we live in an omnichannel world where physical, digital and social merge together, allowing shoppers to browse, compare, share and buy anytime, anywhere,” Dodd added.But how can marketers get people to act in today’s complex retail environment? That all boils down to precision, he said.

“Connecting and engaging shoppers at precisely the right time, in the right place and in the right way,” Dodd said. “Of course, that is a challenge when we all know that the path to purchase is no longer linear or sequential. … Those moments are interconnected with one behavior leading to another. The challenge is to identify those relevant journeys, triggers, steps and touchpoints where we can engage with shoppers most effectively to drive purchase behavior.”

Bringing it to life

Following Dodd’s introduction, a panel of executives from Coca-Cola, Unilever, Geometry Global and other companies helped bring to life a handful of pivotal case studies from the new “Global Perspectives on Shopper Marketing” book, including:

  • Minute Maid’s Limon & Nada vending machine by Coca-Cola Iberia: Limon & Nada is a popular beverage among Spaniards, but parent Coca-Cola Iberia saw room for improvement in trial and was also interested in expanding its distribution. The strategy? While Spain’s economic crisis had curbed consumer spending on just about everything, the concept was to create a vending machine that automatically lowered its prices as the temperature rose, explained Efrain Rosario, director of global customer and commercial leadership at Coca-Cola. Launched in 2012, 18 vending machines were placed in theme parks throughout Spain. Limon & Nada now holds a nearly 30% share of the non-carbonated lemon segment, and the program was renewed for a second year.
  • Unilever’s “Cleaning Experts” in Turkey: Insights revealed that multiple-SKU purchases within the home care category are high; however, shoppers often believe that they have enough cleaning products at home and may decide to delay the purchase until the next shopping trip. Looking to overcome this challenge, communicate the effectiveness of Unilever brands and educate shoppers on the benefits of new products, Unilever developed the “Cleaning Experts” campaign. For the first phase of the program, Unilever created special displays that presented all of its home care brands in one area, as “Expert Cleaning Products,” Julie Watson, VP shopper and customer marketing for Unilever, explained. The campaign was implemented in 11 local supermarkets that collectively operated 253 stores in 13 cities. The multi-faceted program also included the creation of some exclusive SKUs and permanent displays for local supermarkets, as well as dispatching teams of “brand ambassadors” into the field to help educate consumers in stores and through in-store sampling events. Stores that participated posted sales growth two times to three times greater than non-participating stores.

Shifting gears, Tim Barnes, chief strategy officer of Fabric Worldwide, took the stage to discuss the importance of big data and the role data sources play in creating the shopper experience. “My charge to you is to figure out how to create the largest and richest data profiles digitally — globally — of your clients that you can. And then use the power of big data to really understand those key engagement points and moments of truth, and map that to a more specific, unique shopper state of mind, which allows you to be more relevant with your content as you engage those people wherever you may see them,” said Barnes. “And think about how you can rapidly design and test content to match the individual because it is critically important and is the piece that is most overlooked. And lastly, connect the dots.”

Kantar Retail Americas managing director Carl Preller followed with a look ahead to what shopper marketing will look like in 2020.
Retail evolution is, in fact, predictable, Preller argued, and winning in a post-modern world involves becoming either a “specialist” or a “granulist,” he explained.

“We are great believers that … as retailers and suppliers win, there are going to be two sets of winners — what we call specialists and granulists,” he said. “We are going to see retailers kind of gravitating to one or the other. A specialist is really where you have fewer categories but a very deep assortment, where you are focused in winning in a specific type of business. … [Granulists are] very specialized in their range of categories, but [have] deep expertise and great execution in those categories they choose to play in.”

Preller also outlined a set a capabilities — or the “four horsemen of polarization” as he referred to them — that will be important for “specialists” and “granulists” going forward: Managing multi-generations, urban America, multicultural America and the have/have not’s of America.

Closing out the program, the speakers reconvened for a panel discussion on trends and issues in shopper marketing around the world. Hoyt of the Path to Purchase Institute and Gwen Morrison, co-CEO of The Store, WPP’s Global Retail Practice, moderated the discussion.

“As a global team, what we try to give to the market is what we call ‘assets,’” Unilever’s Watson said when asked how she looks at shopper marketing across the various retail markets and different countries in which her company’s brands compete. “You see Dove and you recognize it, it has the same core equity. And what we do in the global channel is to make sure that we provide those core equities to the markets, and we provide design for in-store materials, and provide toolkits for tone of voice. … Be true to the core equity. Be really clear about the toolkit in its use, and put it in the right market context to meet the shopper need and to meet the channel need.”

One key question — how do you measure effective shopper marketing efforts in different countries? What’s the common metric?
“We spend a lot of time talking to retailers in the various markets and the single-biggest frustration for retailers is the marketing not being measured effectively, “ Kantar’s Preller noted. “I think it’s a mix of data availability and practicality that is going to define that, and we find that it’s very different in different markets.”

For more DSN coverage from Shopper Marketing Expo 2013, visit


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