The proliferation of shopper marketing - and the role it can play - has not gone unnoticed by large ad agencies, some of whom have been buying up shopper marketing expertise. A move that is perhaps long overdue for an industry that must constantly innovate to serve its clients effectively, but how will it work in practice and what are the implications for the fmcg sector?
Getting under the skin of your customer, responding to their behaviour, and ultimately using the most relevant channels to influence a purchase all falls under the banner of shopper marketing. While it may not be a new concept, as the battle to capture attention and create standout intensifies, the need to invest in an effective shopper strategy is becoming more critical.
The spotlight is firmly on the last three feet of the shopper journey. This is particularly true of the big four, which are under pressure from the likes of Lidl and Aldi delivering frequent price war ultimatums and enjoying a large chunk of footfall.
There is undoubtedly fantastic potential to transform the in-store experience and enable fmcg brands to connect with customers at a deeper level. This could be the move that finally sees the big ideas of adland trickle down to in-store activation, providing a valuable and much sought-after link between creative concepts, tangible ROI and sales.
If the big idea is going to be effective it should be channel-agnostic and make every execution, through every discipline, better. Truly through-the-line comms need to be grounded in audience understanding, a shopper-first approach, and the tangibles of what the brand is seeking to achieve. It must also be integrated with smart, real-time analytics to enable benchmarking and an increased understanding of the customer.
Adland is undeniably strong at generating a creative concept, the billboard and the TV spot, but it remains to be seen whether this passion will be transferred all the way to the shelf strip. For those managing to cascade the creative properly through to in-store, arguably the place most likely to influence the purchase decision, the rewards will come.
James Hale is group creative director at Lick Creative