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Shopper Marketing

If you have no idea what Shopper Marketing is, you're not alone. But you should know that Shopper Marketing is one of the hottest trends in marketing today, at least in the eyes of major consumer packaged goods companies such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Kraft, as well as the agencies that serve them.

What is Shopper Marketing? It's been defined in a number of ways, often in "mission statement" fashion, meaning a single sentence of 75 words or more that attempts include every detail. I won't subject you to that form of punishment!

Instead, I'll offer my own definition: Shopper Marketing is a discipline designed to drive growth by improving the shopping experience for the shopper.

That may sound basic and obvious, but the twist is that implementing Shopper Marketing is anything but basic and obvious. It is incredibly complicated because it involves every aspect of the shopping experience, from the the usual stuff like promotions, displays and packaging up to and including store formats themselves (think in terms of the checkout area, for starters — plenty of room for improvement there, no?)

Underneath it all is one area that is largely alien to traditional marketers, whose focus has been almost exclusively on understanding consumers — that is, the consumption of goods and services. What's been ignored is understanding shoppers — that is, consumers when they are in the shopping mode.

In other words, understanding consumers is not the same thing as understanding shoppers. There is some overlap between the two, of course, but if the ultimate goal is to drive growth (and it is), then doesn't it make sense to gain insights into why a shopper decides to buy your brand versus someone else's? There's only one place that happens and that's in the store — be it via bricks or clicks.

With that in mind, The Hub Magazine joined forces with Hoyt & Company, a consulting firm, and the Promotion Marketing Association, to codify what constitutes excellence in Shopper Marketing and benchmark against some standards in hopes of improving industry performance overall.

To ensure maximum objectivity, Hoyt & Company simply asked agencies to rate brand marketers, and vice versa, against ten key areas critical to success in Shopper Marketing. We published an executive summary of our findings in the May/June issue of The Hub.

In addition, we prepared a comprehensive report "The Hub Top 10: Shopper Marketing Excellence." The report includes rankings of the top ten brand marketers and agencies in ten key performance areas critical to success in Shopper Marketing and a mini-primer on Shopper Marketing.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the weakest area for both the brand marketers and their agencies is, yes, shopper insights. Shopper Marketing may be the last great frontier of marketing ... and the wagon train is leaving the depot.