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A Little Help, Please

Earlier this week I was on the phone with a reporter from a local newspaper who was interviewing me about a piece of research I had conducted on "shopper marketing." The survey was done as a joint venture between my magazine, The Hub, and a consulting firm called Hoyt & Company, and in association with the Promotion Marketing Association. The methodology was simple — we asked agencies and brand marketers to rate each other in ten areas critical to success in "shopper marketing."

Earlier this week I was on the phone with a reporter from a local newspaper who was interviewing me about a piece of research I had conducted on “shopper marketing.” The survey was done as a joint venture between my magazine, The Hub, and a consulting firm called Hoyt & Company, and in association with the Promotion Marketing Association.

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The methodology was simple — we asked agencies and brand marketers to rate each other in ten areas critical to success in “shopper marketing.”

The reporter knew absolutely nothing about the subject matter, so naturally his first question was: “What is shopper marketing?”

I offered him my simplest definition: “Shopper marketing is an emerging discipline where brand marketers and agencies collaborate with retailers to drive growth by improving the shopping experience.”

And he said: “Oh, so you mean things like customer service?”

And I said: “Yes, that would include things like customer service.”

And he said: “So what do these agencies and these brand marketers have to do with customer service?”

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And I said: “Um … good question!”

Brand marketers and agencies have everything to do with packaging, displays, pricing, special offers, promotions and otherwise communicating their sales messages in-store at the moment the shoppers are making their shopping decisions.

But if their goal is to drive growth through a better shopping experience, they are missing their biggest opportunity by failing to provide shoppers with the thing they need the most at retail — great service.

The concept is not unheard of — I remember there used to be an Apple employee at the CompUSA store back in the day and it’s a fairly standard to see employees of cosmetics companies helping shoppers at department stores.

But has any brand marketer or agency taken responsibility for any level of customer service at a supermarket or drug store? The closet thing might be a sampling event or a cooking demonstration of some kind, but that’s not really customer service.

The focus is so heavily trained on communicating their own self-interested sales messages that these brands and their agencies don’t even consider what the shopper really wants.

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A little help over here, please.

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