Breakfast symposium examines how to engage the omnichannel shopper

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Omnichannel marketing is a popular buzzword when talking about the future of retail. But there could be a serious disconnect between the rubber and the road across many companies pursuing omnichannel initiatives, a panel of shopper marketing experts explained to Shopper Marketing Expo attendees in Chicago Wednesday morning.

The special breakfast session, “Shopper Marketing in a Digital World: The Omnichannel Opportunity,” examined a critical challenge to engaging the omnichannel consumer, as many companies continue to compartmentalize their organizations, forcing shopper marketers to contend with an old-school silo mentality. “Shopper marketers need to adapt and evolve their strategies to meet the ever-changing needs of the consumer by engaging them where they are, in what context and delivering the experience they want,” noted moderator Chris Lobdell, VP sales central region for DataXu. “We’re seeing more sophisticated shopper marketers use their digital advertising investment as research,” Lobdell continued.

According to DataXu research, shopper marketers are expected to spend almost $3.5 billion in digital advertising, representing a 15% increase over 2012 digital ad spends. The reason is simple — 8-of-the-top-10 resources consumers use for research are digital. Digital advertising drives an average 21% in-store sales lift, with 1-in-4 campaigns actually driving sales lifts of more than 40%.

The panelists — all members of Path to Purchase Institute’s annual report, “Who’s Who in Shopper Marketing,” an exclusive group of leaders who have been recognized as industry trendsetters — talked extensively about operating in today’s digitized world and what that means for the future of omnichannel marketing.

Moderator Chris Lobdell of DataXu; Alicia Smestad of Nsight Connect; Roberto Siewczynski of Panavista; Stephanie Kovner-Bryant of Retailigence; and Matt Wise of ePrize

How do leading shopper marketing executives define omnichannel marketing? “Omnichannel is pretty simple — you start the transaction anywhere and you finish it anywhere,” said Roberto Siewczynski, EVP business development and strategy for Panavista. “As you start thinking about manufacturers vs. retailers, the thought process becomes a little more complex. Where does the CPG company engage [the consumer]? Where does the retailer engage [her]? And how is this delicate dance balanced?”

“There isn’t a path to purchase, anymore,” added Stephanie Kovner-Bryant, a member of the board of advisers of Retailigence, which describes itself as “a hyper-local marketing platform, serving both retailers and brand manufacturers, that utilizes brick-and-mortar inventory data obtained directly from retailers to turn online consumers into offline buyers,” according to the company’s website. Retailigence distributes local store inventory-based advertising via its own network of location-based application partners, mobile ad networks, mobile ad exchanges, search providers and social networks.

“People come in and out all along different points, and we need to be where they are with as much information as they need or want to activate against the final purchase,” Kovner-Bryant explained.
And omnichannel marketing remains a moving target. It’s not static like POP advertising at the shelf or other traditional shopper marketing vehicles. “When we talk about the next 36 months, we see a sea of change in the communication between the brand and the consumer,” noted Matt Wise, CEO of ePrize. “Where before there was a push out to the consumer, and we would talk about one-to-one marketing, the reality was you really couldn’t do one-to-one marketing,” he said. “When we talk about omnichannel marketing, the [chief marketing officers] of the world have to start to think, ‘Now I can speak to individuals via their smartphone; how is that going to affect all of my marketing because that [becomes] the primary tool with which I can talk to my consumer?’”

A key question is how do you measure these efforts? Even with the ready availability of data on consumer shopping behavior across omnichannel platforms, there is still some question as to how best to measure the return on investment behind omnichannel marketing.

“We’re at a real impasse in terms of measurement,” noted Alicia Smestad, president of Nsight Connect. “It’s not ‘click-through’ rate; it’s really an engagement metric,” she said. “In [one] digital program [that] we offer, we’ve measured four times the volume movement [versus] just the click-through [rate] or the incremental coupons that we measure alone. So we know there are eyeballs and there is an impact. … There is not one measurement tool for every program. You really have to understand the specific business objectives and the specific behavior objectives, and craft a measurement approach to go with each one of those [objectives].”

Omnichannel marketing may even change the way loyalty programs are implemented, suggested Wise, evolving from a linear purchase occasion-reward to a more robust purchase occasion-consumer engagement opportunity. “So often brands — both retailers and CPG players — use loyalty as an incentive to join a program, but not as a conversation piece,” Wise said. Ads, in-store displays and actual consumption are the traditional touchpoints brands have with consumers. Omnichannel marketing creates a fourth touchpoint, he said. “That will be the change, where people will move away from traditional programs … to a program where [the brand uses the loyalty points] to spark a conversation with the consumer.” 

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Building the brand experience from inception to the shelf

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And if you sell to consumers who believe what you believe — consumers who buy into the “why” — you’ll not only have a fiercely loyal consumer, you’ll have a brand ambassador.

That was one of the key takeaways at the “Architecting a Brand Experience from Concept Through Retail Execution” symposium held here at Navy Pier, Tuesday afternoon, as attendees of the 2013 Shopper Marketing Expo absorbed insights from some of the leading creators of “brand experience” today.

“It is no longer relevant for a brand to have a unique selling feature,” Rob Wallace, managing partner of the global brand identity strategy and package design consultancy Wallace Church, told attendees. “We have to disrupt category conventions, transcend category cues and transform consumers in the process. That is the hallmark of our most successful brands.”

As an example of how to successfully build a brand experience from the ground up, Sean Patrick Harrington, founder of the premium skin care line Previse, which is positioned to help prevent niche skin conditions, talked about just how crucial identifying a brand’s name is to the process. “[With Previse], we wanted to be authentic, transparent, easy,” he said. “We chose the word ‘previse’ because it means to foresee or know in advance. … This is what we gave to Wallace Church [who consulted on the brand development process] — a passion for prevention.”

Presenters Rob Wallace, Doug Van Andel, Sean Patrick Harrington and Lily Lev-Glick walk a group from the Shopper Marketing Expo through building a brand from inception to sell-through.

Symposium presenters identified some best practices in helping to differentiate a brand from a sea of sameness, and creating an authentic brand experience on shelf. It begins with analyzing the category and the consumer buying the category.

Previse, for example, had been formulated to be gender agnostic — appealing to men as much as women because even though women, as the healthcare gatekeepers for their families, typically buy skincare, there were not many solutions for men. “Male grooming in this category is exploding. It’s an untapped opportunity,” Wallace said, but it creates a challenge — how do you communicate to men without alienating women?

That leads to the research integration process, which explores the elements of consumer and shopper research that should be integrated into the brand development process. The research should help list the key drivers or attributes of a category directly correlated to purchase intent. When those key drivers are perceived by the shopper to be a strong part of a product’s offering, it helps to move the product off shelf and into the market basket.

When you evaluate how well the brand does across these key drivers, “those are the attributes that are going to be your brand differentiators,” noted Lily Lev-Glick, founder and chief insights officer for the shopper insights and in-store strategy consultancy Shopper Sense. “More importantly, [if] you do this for all of your competitive brands, you will see where everyone falls.”

That helps marketers define why the new product exists — not just as a differentiator from what’s already on the shelf, but in terms of defining the vision and mission behind the new product. This feeds into the why behind the buy.

There are actually five steps that need to happen before implementing the product design and brand story, Wallace explained: Create a position statement; correlate that statement so that it explains the “why” behind the product; convert the statement into a visually impactful message; test the visual among consumers; and present that “visual brief” to the advertising, promotion and merchandising teams. “Follow these five steps before you begin the design development process and you will streamline the experience at every consumer interaction,” Wallace said. “Now this brand tells its own story. This brand has continuity and consistency. It has relevant disruption and innovation in the category. It tells a different story than anything else in the category, and begins to really reflect the experience and essence around the brand.”

Once those five steps have been addressed, it’s time to approach retail distribution and create a shopper-marketing plan. “You’re not just dealing with the brand and all the brand has to face,” noted Doug Van Andel, global creative director for the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, the brand story needs to dovetail with a retailer’s brand identity. “You’ve got a brand that stands for a particular kind of ‘why,’ and then you’ve got a retailer that stands for a particular kind of ‘why.’ Somewhere in the middle, you have shopper intimacy,” he said. “You have to have some understanding that there is some overlap between the brand that is relevant to the retailer and that the retailer has to live up to [its own brand expectations]. … If you take a close look at a Target shopper vs. a Walmart shopper, they are different people.” It’s important to understand where the brand values overlap, Van Andel said.

In the closing segment, attendees were invited to participate in a mock competition to create a program for the launch of Previse Skincare into the supermarket channel and other mass outlets, which is planned for the coming year. The winning presentation, which was selected on site by the presenters, was rewarded with an all-expense-paid, one-week vacation in Long Bay, in the British Virgin Island Tortola. To help spark creativity a group of marketing students was also in attendance, as an added bonus, Wallace told DSN. “I lecture at Columbia Business School’s MBA program and at the [School of Visual Arts] Masters in Branding program, and find that students’ contributions bring a fresh perspective and enthusiasm that drives design thinking and creative problem solving even further,” he said.

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Stop, collaborate and listen: Winning the Target guest in health care

BY Antoinette Alexander

CHICAGO — When collaborating with Target to develop a unique, behavior-changing program, keep one thing in mind — there’s no “silver bullet.”

That was a key takeaway for attendees of Wednesday morning’s seminar, “Inspiring and Winning the Target Guest in Healthcare — A Differentiated Approach,” a key part of the educational lineup here at the Shopper Marketing Expo at Navy Pier.

“As someone who has worked with Target for almost 20 years, I can tell you that there is no silver bullet,” Heidi Froseth, SVP Target team leader at Catapult, explained. “It is really so much more of an art than a science, and it is really a process of being tirelessly passionate about how to win the guest. You have to bring innovative, thought-leading ideas everyday to Target. It is really how you earn your keep with them.”

Heidi Froseth

Froseth, along with Heather Campain, director of category insights and shopper marketing for the Target team at Johnson & Johnson, co-hosted the morning session. Campain provided a behind-the-scenes look at J&J’s “Build Your Own First Aid Kit” campaign, affectionately referred to by the company as “BYOFAK,” she said.
In 2009, J&J partnered with Target to create the promotion. The goal: To build the basket in the retailer’s first-aid category. The program proved successful. So successful that brand rivals eventually jumped aboard the bandwagon and began developing similar programs for competing retailers, she noted.

To make sure the Target program remained differentiated and was a truly Target-specific program, Campain’s team reconvened to revise the program in 2013. Enter: “Be prepared everywhere.”

While the revised promotion proved hugely successful, that’s not to say that the marketing team didn’t encounter some significant challenges along the way. “Many of you with annualized plans can understand the difficulty of being tasked every year to meet increasing goals, new objectives, increasing competition and innovation,” Froseth said. “It is an ever-turning wheel of better, bigger, stronger, faster.”

To help attendees understand the brand team’s process for creating the campaign and how it overcame those challenges, Froseth and Campain outlined six tips:

  • Pause and plan: Assess those intriguing problems and find captivating solutions.
  • Bring in the best perspective: Analyze what you need and who’s best suited to deliver it. Prioritize, emphasize and de-emphasize — rather than compromise — to move the best ideas forward.
  • Understand success: Think fluidly — retailer to guest to brand. Solve programs in a linear fashion.
  • Gain alignment early and often: Involve all key players early on. Solidify a team to keep the conversation going.
  • Own it: Divide and conquer with task teams. Build trust and respect in each other’s expertise to bring the campaign to life.
  • Enjoy the challenge: Connect over a shared drive for excellence. Nurture the team and have fun.

“The research, the insights and the thinking … resulted in a really robust, 360 [degree] surround-sound campaign that we entitled ‘Be Prepared Everywhere,’” Froseth said. “We positioned Target as a retailer that helps make your summer a little easier by helping you prepare the perfect first-aid kit for every occasion. So, whether it’s a high school or family reunion, a really big wedding or every day activities … Target was really about creating the perfect [first-aid checklist] for every single one of those events, plus the perfect-sized bag.”

A cornerstone of the campaign was a chic, exclusive first-aid bag with a complimentary mini travel case inside, so consumers could, as the campaign urged, “be prepared everywhere.” The in-store display, which carried an assortment of more than a dozen J&J first-aid-related items and the exclusive bag, also featured special QR codes, enabling shoppers to scan and access an ideal first-aid checklist for any occasion via their mobile devices.

“One of the important things to keep in mind is, whether it is health care or any other thing that you’re doing, it is just important to keep that Target experience in mind and what she expects Target to deliver,” said Campain. “Health care [is] sometimes not readily associated with Target, … but finding a way to deliver that experience through the Target lens is possible and really important.”

Campain noted that the revamped program resulted in a 47% boost in endcap sales at Target compared with the prior year — the most successful BYOFAK promotion in its five-year history.

“We know that we delivered for Target. We know we delivered for [the Target guest]. And we know we delivered for the brand. We also celebrated the entire village that it took to create this because it certainly wasn’t just a shopper marketing initiative — everybody at all of the companies were involved and all in,” said Campain. “Now, we’re at that time once again where we are ready to stop, collaborate and listen, and we are beginning our journey for 2014.”

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