Empowering Consumer Participation and “Amazonification” of Retail
How many times in a day do you hear the words “digital marketing” and “shopper marketing”? If you’re April Carlisle, Senior Vice President of the intelligent brand activation agency, Arc Worldwide, that number is probably high and rightfully so. Why? Consumers don’t have a channel strategy; they have a shopping strategy. With technology and digital/mobile devices – coupled with a heavy reliance on social networks – blurring the audience lines and evolving the traditional path to purchase, multinational brands like McDonald’s and Coca Cola are now making digital a central and critical component of their shopper marketing strategies. To truly embrace this shopper marketing paradigm shift, it’s all about bringing humans – aka consumers – to the forefront and repositioning brands into the background.
To shed light on this paradigm shift, we sat down and chatted with April Carlisle, Senior Vice President of Arc Worldwide.
How do you convince your agency’s clients to delve deeper into digital?
April Carlisle: Despite how fast digital, mobile and social adoption are growing worldwide, there are still many digital agencies (and marketers) who tackle digital marketing as a tactic that is executed to boost a brand’s equity in the marketplace – and more often than not, they move on after a specific campaign wraps. In my experience at Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide, this is not the most effective way for brands to maximize ROI from their digital spend.
For us, digital advertising is executed as an integral touch point within today’s digitally inclined shoppers’ path to purchase for specific products. Specifically, we are proactively building out a scope of work within and across all of our clients that takes into account the varied, fragmented and digitally-ruled needs and wants of consumers, no matter what devices and channels they’re using within multiple stages of the shopping experience. This is what we like to call ‘participation’ marketing.
What does that really mean? It means our teams across Arc Worldwide – from creative design to copy-writing to media planning/buying to customer experience optimization to traditional TV and print advertising – are all asking how we can convince shoppers to participate with our agency’s clients (brands) and more importantly, how we can do this in a way that’s meaningful, personal, relevant and engaging for each shopper.
How do you use digital – across channels – to drive in-store engagement and sales?
April Carlisle: It really depends on the product or brand category that we’re trying to promote, as opposed to a client’s understanding of the many marketing channels that contribute to its bottom line. It also varies based on whether or not it is for an all-year or occasion-based campaign.
For example, occasion-based campaigns for a company like Coca-Cola require very different digital marketing strategies than it would take to execute for a CPG product category like skincare within Procter and Gamble. With a P&G brand like Olay, we know that shoppers are interested in and searching for a wealth of information and tips about beauty and skin care before they are convinced to walk into a local store.
At Arc Worldwide, we empower our team to maximize what we call the ‘Amazonification of retail’, which essentially taps into the digital, mobile and social interactions consumers have with brands through features like reviews/ratings with the ultimate goal of moving them from their screens into the physical store environment.
An eMarketer study revealed that about half of companies say cultural barriers and a lack of familiarity with new technology hinders their ability to go digital easily and successfully. Do your agency’s clients face these types of challenges?
April Carlisle: We often see our clients struggling to understand how to best implement new technologies and tools into their consumer marketing plans. For instance, it’s not that strange for a client to walk into our agency and proclaim: “I need a hashtag program.” More often than not, they know Twitter is an important social media tool to engage with consumers, but they don’t fully comprehend what exactly Twitter is capable of achieving for their brand’s target audiences and they often don’t believe it’s important enough to dedicate the time or resources to learn more about its value. With a request of this kind, it’s clear that no matter how many new technologies and tools are introduced into the marketplace, many brands are still struggling to understand how to best implement them within their overall marketing mix.
Many people assume that establishing their campaign on all social platforms will work because they are ‘popular’ in the eyes of consumers. In actuality, focusing on the intentions and motivations of each shopper segment first is most important for driving brand engagement and sales – from online to offline. We work with clients to understand what each shopper’s motivations are, her personal path to purchase across every device and channel and the experiences and advertising that are most likely to influence her and where on along the way it does. That way we connect with shoppers at the right time, in the right place with the most relevant and engaging types of content on the right platform.
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.
Tell us how your approach to shopper marketing has changed in the last two years. Or reach out to us on our social channels.
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.