Despite the many issues outlined above, the state of Shopper in 2018 is good. This sweeping assessment is crystallized in the response to a single survey question, in which our respondents were asked to “rate the overall shopping experience provided by your brand.” The average response was 3.2 stars out of 5. Three stars is “good.” It’s fair to ask, though, what will it take to move Shopper from “good” to “great”?
A body of opinion is emerging that “shopper marketing” carries so much baggage that its name must be changed. While a few organizations may see this as worthy idea, it is unlikely that many others will follow suit anytime soon. More than ten years after Shopper first burst on the scene, the function and the job titles that go with it are fairly well entrenched. By now it is clear that Shopper has transcended the realm of trendy marketing buzzwords and is a enduring, if not permanent, feature of org charts almost everywhere.
By placing brand and retail strategy within the context of how people make choices and live their lives, Shopper sits at the epicenter of accountability. Let’s also remember — and relentlessly remind others — that when Shopper is pursued as a commercial strategy, over the long-term, and stays true to its organizing principles to align brand and retailer goals and blend consumer and shopper insights, it has been shown to produce an ROI of 5:1. Some report an ROI of 8:1. Granted, it’s not always clear exactly how this is calculated and what it really means, but at the very least it points in a very positive direction.
In our latest survey, we asked a series of questions related to the role and performance of agencies. The first question regarded the effectiveness of the agency’s communications with the brand team, and the second was about its role in developing innovative ideas. The third question concerned implementation capabilities and the fourth probed the degree to which agencies help prove Shopper’s value.
An understanding of why people do what they do, when and where they do it as shoppers, distinguishes Shopper from other kinds of commercial activity. It’s the reason why it’s called “shopper” marketing. Separating shopper insight from consumer insight — which centers on what people think, not what they do — may require some mental gymnastics. It is not a distinction that comes naturally to everyone, or even most, people. It is, however, a critically important difference.