The End(game) is Insights

Understand shopper behaviour in order to influence or change it…

“Am I marketing to consumers or shoppers?” It’s long been a favourite ‘science’ of the marketer or agency to try to define the difference between the two. Shopper marketing has to a large degree been seen particularly by agencies, as a rather more direct and intrusive activity than “proper” marketing and too often been labelled “sales promotion”.

If there ever was a distinction between consumers and shoppers, the ability today to engage shoppers when they’re not actually in a store has effectively blurred any line that might have existed to the point of invisibility. Discerning insights from data that can be turned into actionable strategies has never been more important in reaching those shoppers at the right time, in the right place with the right message and this is particularly true (and pertinent to) mobile as a channel.

Legacy thinking though, leads to Brands and agencies being focused on the ‘universe’ of consumers while retailers want to understand their shoppers. This in-turn leads to seemingly incompatible discussions about brand equity and consumer segmentation on the one hand and baskets, list-making and trip-types on the other.

Fundamentally, people who buy stuff don’t see themselves as consumers or shoppers and here at Shopitize we take the same view. Shopper marketing is about change and getting shoppers to do something they aren’t currently doing and this is most effectively realised through insights.

Whilst a wealth of data exists around shoppers and shopping drawn from a wide range of sources from retailers to research specialists, it is overwhelmingly focused on statistics showing what shoppers are doing today,. This I would clearly define as “data” or “statistics”. I think our position at Shopitize and that of most shopper insights users and buyers (given an option) is that valuable “insights” go further and not only tell you what shoppers are going to do tomorrow but how they might do things differently if you engage with them differently. To that end, the Shopitize shopper marketing proposition has been designed to be about ‘change’ and getting shoppers to do something that they aren’t currently doing.

Discerning insights from data that can be turned into actionable strategies has never been more important;

Shrinking families, increasing commodity prices, more products, discount and convenience store growth and technology will require a shift from a supply chain, efficiency oriented model to one driven more by fragmented pockets of demand that demand faster speed-to-market and a more dynamic feedback loop once launched. We are already seeing the growth of “shopping-on-the-go” that these and other social factors are driving and this dynamic and challenging marketing landscape represents the ‘sweetspot’ of Shopitize (smart)phone shopper marketing.


Shopitize Smart (phone) Shopper Marketing

Shopper Rewards remain effective, but need to be smart…

Promotions still influence shopping behaviour and their use continues to grow, most noticeably among previously un-engaged ABC1 families. But with 90% of shoppers actively seeking promotions/new products and shoppers increasingly dissatisfied with traditional promotion channels, engagement is now the key metric in gaining traction and mobile is the key channel in making these engagements relevant, convenient and timely:


At Shopitize, we’ve recognised the traditionally strung-out shopper marketing journey and created a platform that engages, empowers and ultimately influences the behaviour of shoppers throughout the path-to-purchase via a single, consistent and measurable channel:

  • Attract – Relevant, timely, convenient
  • Guide – Info, advice, brand values
  • Influence – Sample, switch, reward

Simply using mobile as an alternative distribution channel for coupons is a mistake that many shopper marketers continue to make, led largely by their insistence on transferring the offline coupon models (household distribution, direct mail, press and internet) directly to the mobile channel. What this does is give you a marginal uplift in response (mobile will always beat those channels) but significantly smaller volumes as there are still relatively few mass-market mobile audiences to which these offers can be directly marketed. This continues to make mobile difficult to justify on a ROI basis, simply because the volumes tend to inhabit strictly “trial” parameters.

Whenever brands or agencies discuss “trial” with me, my first response is to ask what they are trialling…We know that shoppers respond extraordinarily well, offers and engagements are warmly received and that the technology works, so I ask “what in your minds are you trialling?” The answer of course is that they want the old results (vast responses and sales peaks) with new measurables (where, when, who, why?) which have not been available through traditional channels but which are all real-time and substantiated with a dedicated mobile channel.

It’s at this point that the true nature of “trial” can be recognised and addressed. What we actually work with brands to achieve is a targeted change of shopper behaviour through a direct-to-mobile experience. What we are delivering is old-style sales penetration of course but also the establishment of foundations for a brand-to-consumer relationship which is not wholly discount-driven, is interactive and which can recognise the stage at which that shopper is in their relationship with the brand and the product.

The outcome of such a “trial” is proving how mobile, when used properly, is uniquely able to reward the right kind of shopper and the right kind of behaviour.

Fully-engaged with shoppers?

How (and why) do Shopitize users engage with brands?

Nobody (I think!) disputes that engagement is now the key battleground and one of the key measures in marketing directly to shoppers. But what is true shopper-engagement and perhaps more importantly, how do you make it pay? Every day I see lots of beautiful examples of FMCG brands practising digital customer engagement, offering all kinds of benefits and experiences from video recipes to augmented reality, Facebook competitions to virtual factory tours but I’m often left wondering if anyone in the process has forgotten what the ultimate customer engagement is….. a purchase. It remains the most (only?) bankable measure of engagement and yet I’m often seeing it entirely absent or at best, enabled through a digital-only mechanic (and thus irrelevant to at least 80% of the shopper audience).

Not great from a ROI perspective certainly but also bad business in many other ways. What has the customer actually had to do or demonstrate in order to receive their content or experience? How is a genuinely “loyal” customer who buys your product regularly, being offered something any different to the buyer of a competitor brand who simply likes your free recipes? Is there a measure of what impact this “engagement” has had on either of these parties in terms of how much more likely they are to purchase your products?

The key to shopper engagement and all “interactive” marketing is mutual reward. By selecting from a wide range of offers that are reflective of their verified shopping histories and profiles, Shopitize users’ rewards are ‘earned’ when they engage with brands on a variety of levels and go on to purchase their products.

Accessing product information, content marketing, answering a product/behaviour question or sharing with their social network is rewarded by the brand with a discount which can either be related to that one engagement or which increasingly, can be a more sophisticated reward for a pattern of purchasing or behavioural change on an individual basis (increased frequency, switching from competitor products or purchasing multiple products from that brand.

Users accumulate rewards either in a single shopping session or over periods of time prior to their shopping trips (by creating a shopping list of product rewards) and then redeem these post-trip to receive an accumulated cash payment directly to their bank or PayPal account.

Because Shopitize captures the entire shopping receipt not just those items qualifying for a reward, we are able to very quickly build-up a deep shopper profile of a user’s product preferences and their shopping behaviour including location, retailer, type of store, day and time of shop. Added to the detailed answers that they have provided to the questions that they have answered, we believe we have the most detailed and actionable real-time shopper marketing and insights resource available in the UK today.

In terms of where the developing Shopper Marketing opportunities lie and the disciplines and techniques which will decide success on the FMCG balance-sheet, we have ensured that we can deliver measurable results across the entire process:



The Value of…Value?!

What Does Value Mean in 2013?

‘Value’ has been code for low-prices as the recession has bitten but the definition is broadening and shopper marketing and promotions need increasingly to both recognise and to reflect this. Up to this point, discounting price has often become confused with value by marketers, either deliberately or accidentally. Not surprisingly, this has led to consumers becoming confused by the messaging and with both parties to the transaction equally confused, straight discounts have now commoditised the “reward” marketing proposition almost completely. One only needs to open a tabloid newspaper to see the supermarket and FMCG brands “out-discounting” each other every day.

But today, workmanship, sustainability, localisation, customisation, innovation, convenience and service can all form part of a genuine ‘value’ proposition for a shopper. Not only can permanent discounting confuse this value equation in shoppers’ minds but ‘recession burnout’ among customers means that price can even be a destructive differentiator. “Recession burnout” is a very real phenomenon and its impact on shoppers can be seen in the success of premium own-label offerings and “luxury” carrier bags: Shoppers are value-conscious but don’t want to be categorised (or perceived) as bargain-basement buyers.

Shoppers want to feel better about themselves and the decisions that they make. They are becoming owners of products rather than users and a shopper’s experience of a brand can represent a large part of their value perception. Combining incentives with education on the full ‘bundle’ and offering mutually rewarding engagement can sway shoppers to reconsider and feel satisfied with their choice.

By establishing a relationship with shoppers where “value” can be established over time on one or all of the levels suggested above, brands can not only avoid being discount-driven but can also begin to integrate the learning from these deeper relationships to drive new product development and longer-term rewarding of loyalty to more accurately reflect shoppers’ own personal definitions of value.