Marketing@Retail: the Demise of the Target Consumer
In Search of the New, Opt-In Consumer
By: David Sommer, MEC Retail/Mediaedge:cia
Advertising executives used to talk obsessively about “reaching” consumers. “Who is our target? How do we reach them as efficiently and effectively as possible with a differentiated and relevant message about our product?” Not that long ago, the simplest of business equations told the whole story:
Revenue – Cost = Profit.
Revenue was driven by turning “consumer targets” into buyers. Then we subtracted how much the customer acquisition effort cost and simply computed our profits. We adjusted the marketing mix annually and the cycle of assault on “consumer targets” continued.
Technology has now created a world where consumers no longer have targets painted on their foreheads and the usual marketing weapons miss the mark. Consumers control the who, what, when and where of “being reached.” Now, consumers actually “reach out” and “opt-in” for the marketing experiences they choose. The demise of the “Target Consumer” has led to the “Controlling Consumer.”
Evolution of MEDIA and RETAIL
Engaging Consumers Who Are in Control
Don’t get me wrong. At-home media such as network television still matter. Vast numbers of consumers opt-in to watch Grey’s Anatomy and American Idol during prime-time. Make no mistake about it, consumers who sit on their couch and watch their network TV “real-time,” commercials and all, are choosing to do so. They are opting in for the old-fashioned watch it with the rest of the world, water-cooler experience. These consumers had a choice of watching time-shifted on their TIVO, downloading to their iPods or streaming the video in their offices the next day over high-speed connections.
If you are vigorously nodding your head YES, or more likely thinking, tell me something I do not already know… just wait, we are going to segue into the subject at hand, Marketing@Retail.
What does all of this talk about “consumers opting-in” for content have to do with retail? Theoretically, consumers opt-in to physically visiting a retail store in much the same way they tune into ABC for an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. However, something happens when a consumer embarks on a trip to the store– they change from consumer to shopper. The consumer gets in their car to achieve some specific goal: stock up on groceries, buy an flat screen LCD TV, or pick up some new work clothes. Each one of these very different “trips” places the shopper in a completely different mode and mindset.
For example, when “Mom” is rushing to stock-up for a family of four young children, she wants to spend as little time and money as possible, find healthy foods, grab a cup of coffee for herself as a pick-me-up and maybe enjoy the simple pleasure of an US Weekly magazine while standing in the check-out line.
When Mom sets out to go shopping for the “stock-up grocery trip” she is not opting-in for a :30 TV spot on a video screen hanging from the ceiling. For marketing materials to have a chance of engaging Mom in-store, they need to add real value for her life. In this hypothetical example, a screen running a clever :30 TV for Danimals (kids yogurt drink) might not get noticed. It might not be relevant to the shopper’s planned trip or need state. However, a little detective work might uncover a “shopper insight” that Mom would really like all of the healthy dairy products for kids be placed in one special section of the refrigerated aisle and not necessarily with the other yogurts.
Creating a “Healthy Kids Dairy Section” might not sound like a brilliant marketing vehicle for Danimals. However, in the context of our earlier discussion about consumers being “in-control” and “opting-in” for the marketing experiences they choose, a shopping time-saver program for a busy mom could create a relevant touch point.
By listening to shoppers and understanding what types of experiences they will opt-in for, we can craft a winning Marketing@Retail plan. In the end, it boils down to that magical Vin diagram where consumers are on top and marketers and retailers work together to create the optimal shopper experience and the elusive win-win-win.
MEASURING THE EFFECTIVENESS
of the Store as a Marketing Weapon
If we picture that fictitious “Healthy Kid Dairy Section” we just imagined where moms can breeze by, browse the healthiest of dairy products, examine nutritional information and fill their cart with a variety of old favorites and some guaranteed healthy new products, how would we measure this in-store activity? What is the value of Danimals being highlighted and giving attention-grabbing signage in this special section?
The answers to these questions require a closer look at our definition of in-store media. If we “ripped the roof” off of an individual store and looked inside from an aerial view at all of the places we can engage consumers– all of these options qualify as in-store media.
Our definition of retail media also includes all of the places where marketers can use retail as a channel to engage consumers… Think direct mail pieces sent out by the retailers to a targeted list… Think frequent shopper card programs. Imagine a situation where Best Buy knows I am in the market for an LCD flat screen TV based on my prior purchases and the information I have provided at their website. Panasonic can then work with Best Buy to mail me a brochure from Best Buy and Panasonic that I will opt-in to read, cover-to-cover, even though I know these are just marketing materials.
So, our definition of Marketing@Retail includes all of the ways marketers can engage consumers using retailers (their stores, their mailing lists, their relationships) as a communications channel. With this in mind, we must carefully evaluate and measure all of the value we as marketers gain from each engagement of shoppers through the retail channel.
There are three major buckets of measurement: media value, brand metrics and sales lift. Media value considers things like store traffic x aisle traffic x compliance = in-store media value.
Brand metrics is more like traditional advertising measures which include tracking studies to determine brand health as a result of advertising communications. In the case on in-store communications, intercepts are often the easiest way to understand how a “control” and “exposed” group feel about a brand. The final bucket is sales lift, if our baseline volume was X, the incremental volume is X+?.
Most marketers and sociologists agree that this “Controlling Consumer” is here to stay. And most marketers agree that consumers will continue to embark on shopping trips where they transform into shoppers. Given these strong convictions, we must examine the barriers that have hindered the development of shopper insights and ultimately shopper marketing.
Seven Barriers to Development of Shopper Marketing
Organizational structure and budgets allocations based on old priorities.
Not many leading marketing executives who are also qualified shopper marketers.
Lack of real shopper insights and shopper research.
Legacy processes and the challenges of current advertising process timing.
No current standards of measurement for in-store activity.
Using retail as media is not easy, not turn-key like buying media. Finding the win-win-win for consumers, retailers and marketers is very difficult.
Retailers are not really media moguls, their first priority is to sell more product, to more people, more often, NOT to monetize their stores as true media.
RIGHT PLACE, WRONG TIME...As Dr. John (famous New Orleans Jazz and Funk Singer) once said, “I been in the right place, but it must'a been the wrong time.” There is no question Marketing@Retail is the “right place.” Consumers continue to opt-in for the most interactive of experiences, shopping. And, with 138 million consumers walking through a Wal-Mart every week, consumers are doing so in large numbers. However, for much of my career, I believe it was the wrong time for shopper marketers. Given the mass reach, prominence and glamour of traditional advertising, Marketing@Retail was relegated to a secondary service function within marketing organizations.
Things have changed. Almost every day I hear about marketing executives who are reshaping their organizations to create a tighter focus on this key area. They call it variously Shopper marketing, FMOT (First Moment Of Truth marketing), Red Zone, category management, collaborative marketing – but, we just call it Marketing@Retail. And, for marketing executives committed to getting results and maximizing ROI, the potential for actively engaging shoppers at retail is enormous.