Follow the Leaders

  • The response to the premier issue of Marketing At Retail magazine has been so overwhelmingly positive that I'm still busy thanking all the industry players who contributed to our launch both in these pages and with their support, advice, and constructive engagement.
  • Through it all, I have learned one lesson. The revolution in marketing that we've tapped into is emanating not from a revolution in technology or technique, but from a revolution in thinking about shopping. And as much as we'd like to think it's our marketing genius that's driving the revolution, it's not. It's the consumer that's driving it. We're following, not leading. (But running so fast it can feel like leading.)
  • Just when we thought that shoppers would exodus in mass to the most spartan megaretailers, specialty retailers thrived by upselling not minimizing the retail experience. When we thought we had all the socioeconomic demographics figured out, shoppers forgot to read the reports. When we thought harried shoppers no longer liked to shop, the percentage of one-basket shoppers—and the number of shopping trips per month— increased in grocery stores. As retailer consolidation and distribution efficiencies drove prices down, shoppers increased not decreased their on-line shopping before closing the in-store purchase. Low-income women, particularly, are increasingly going on-line and researching the best deals before making the purchase in-store.
  • When we thought we would just slap some broadcast ads up on TVs in-store, the shoppers yawned and looked the other way. When we thought that digital screens in the store were just so much noise, shoppers embraced digital platforms designed by creative marketers who quietly built brand equity by understanding that content in-store needed its own template.
  • As consumers move quickly, in-store is indeed the last place they can be targeted (and trade dollars continue to be spent four-to-one over ad dollars). But even as attention is refocused in-store, it's all the more urgent that we establish a new approach to shopper engagement. And as much as I would like—as editor of a trade magazine entitled Marketing At Retail—to say that at-retail is an easy, safe haven in a shifting marketing landscape, I can't. It is only by understanding the connections between mass media, on-line, out-of-home, and in-store marketing that a new model for shopper engagement will be attained. As tempting as it is to adopt one model from any one of those single platforms and import it wholesale into another, that won't work. It's not about cobbling together and selling reach. It's about getting results.
  • Where the revolution in marketing is leading, I've got some ideas. But I have just one plan: to follow the shoppers. They seem to be onto something.