The Holy Grail of Shopper Marketing: Tying Big Data And Innovation To In-Store Sales
A recent article in AdWeek waxed poetically about the Holy Grail of shopper marketing. To put it in the author’s words: “The explosion of unstructured data sets available to marketers includes everything from web browsing patterns and social media posts to mobile device locations, loyalty programs, search habits and email. Presumably, by sifting through and analyzing big data, CPGs and retailers can eventually take advantage of valuable insights to make shopper marketing efforts more targeted and relevant for today’s smartphone-carrying, webrooming, showrooming, omnichannel consumers. The Holy Grail? To tie those insights and innovations back to in-store sales.”
This falls exactly in line with our latest chat with April Carlisle, Senior Vice President and Director of Strategy for Global Shopper Marketing for Arc Worldwide. Here are some snippets from our conversation on the power of tying big data and technological innovation to in-store sales for CPG brands and retailers.
More and more shoppers expect digital to deliver personalized experiences regardless of the platform, channel or device. But they also still value human interactions in-store. How does this dichotomy affect your team when planning the shopper marketing strategies for your clients?
April Carlisle: First things first, we have to remind ourselves – and our clients – that shoppers don’t say to themselves, “How can I take advantage of the omnichannel shopping experience?” They’re just shopping – period. As simple as this statement is, it’s something that many brands today forget because they’re so bogged down by finding ways to fit, cram and push digital into specific moments of the buyer’s journey. But that’s not going to be effective.
Let’s think about a specific shopper – a mother of 2 children who lives in a suburb of Cincinnatti, Ohio. She’s the primary grocery shopper in her home. And Kroger is her typical supermarket of choice. And even more importantly, price comparisons play a big role in her decision to shop at a store, let alone buy a specific CPG product from that store. So you can bet she’ll be counting on the digital circulars – also referred to as weekly ads – coming into her email inbox and on retailers’ websites as a way to find the best bargains, deals and products she wants and needs – that are available immediately at the local store. As a CPG shopper, she isn’t just on the hunt for convenience and savings on one channel or device. As she scours through a weekly ad from Kroger, she’s simultaneously looking for deals and printing coupons from her iPhone (while waiting to pick up the kids from school), reading product reviews on other websites and even doing a quick check on Kroger’s Facebook page to find special coupons and offers she can redeem at her local Kroger store.
At Arc Worldwide, we figure out ways to advertise what is in that Kroger circular in those other digital spaces, including her mobile device where she’s planning her daily activities. Because content that’s personal, responsive and locally available is what stands out at those different touch points, it’s important for those messages to be consistent and accurate whether they come from the brands themselves or the retailers offering them. The two really have to work together and align their messaging to execute a seamless, coherent strategy.
So when thinking about shopper marketing, you cannot just build brand equity with digital; you need to build retailer equity as well. And you have to do both at the same time. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. You either find that companies want to push their brand equity through retailer touch points, or the opposite. It works best when you create meaningful messages for both in the digital world and then reinforce those experiences in-store.
What emerging technologies will best enable retailers and brands to align and execute against shoppers’ preference for seamless online-to-offline experiences?
April Carlisle: A lot of shopper marketing discussions have recently centered on beacon technology. To be honest, I think beacons are at the same time promising and challenging for retailers.
Being able to direct shoppers to specific products in-store is a very powerful attribute for marketers to be able to harness. However, the real magic happens when they master it and link the messages from beacons directly to specific locations within physical stores. When beacon technology reminds a shopper of her favorite shade of ruby red lipstick and then, to top it off, adds an incentive – special discount – it’s a highly effective way of subtly pushing that “always on” shopper from her second screen into the beauty aisle of a retailer like CVS. And this is where some really incredible and measurable interactions are likely to occur.
There are obviously some execution challenges to beacon technology though – not just getting hardware installed, which is not that hard, but currently can be expensive. But there is also the challenge of serving the right messages through them with the right timing. No retailer would intentionally deploy beacons to their shoppers if the resulting experience disrupted their shopping experience by tossing dozens of conflicting, irrelevant messages at them and worst of all, frustrated them enough to make them click away and walk away to a direct competitor.
For CPG brands and mass merchant retailers, that means they have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how best to serve the right messages to the right people in the right formats and on the right platforms. The woman walking the beauty aisles of CVS looking for that perfect shade of red lipstick is not the ideal customer to send in-store offers for AXE men’s body spray – unless she’s shopping for her son, boyfriend or husband.
With new technologies and a growing dependence on digital and mobile devices comes a greater need to get precise with measurement. What mix of metrics do you advise clients to use as a barometer of campaign success (or failure)?
Many brands still look at all the traditional metrics – that is, page visits, click-through rates and bounce rates. These are all still very valid metrics to evaluate success – particularly, if they’re driving to a particular website, circular or landing page.
But what is specifically appropriate really depends on the type of digital ad. And in the shopper marketing space, you’re able to measure so much more than what many other brand marketers may be familiar with, such as loyalty card engagement. That, in particular, is a gold mine for many of our CPG clients looking for robust campaign data because it allows them to actually see if ads and offers served up across their digital communication channels actually resulted in a matching sale in-store.
For example, when working with Walgreens, you can track shoppers right from when they open up an iMedia ad, or if they open the Walgreens app while browsing through a digital circular (weekly ad). These interactions are tracked against the loyalty card identifier and in the end Walgreens is able to see if the promotions that were served through their advertising to the specific loyalty card member actually translated into an in-store purchase.
It’s a very simple and efficient way to track digital’s impact on in-store and, let’s face it, quantifying that impact is really the primary concern of any brand or retailer who is engaged in digital.
April Carlisle is the Senior Vice President and Director of Strategy for Global Shopper Marketing for Arc Worldwide. She oversees shopper and retailer marketing initiatives for various clients within the agency, and leads global training on Shopper Marketing. Previously she had 20+ years experience leading traditional sales management and Shopper Marketing organizations at Procter & Gamble.
What innovations does your business use to track digital-to-physical? What metrics do you find to be the most useful? Share in the comments below. Or go back and read Part 1.
This blog was written by Blair Carlisle. Blair is an Indiana University student who served as our marketing intern for Summer 2014. She is double-majoring in graphic design and marketing and has previously run her own shoe design business. You can see her portfolio here.