Capturing Consumers’ Attention

November 8, 2017

Convenience Store News | November 8, 2017 – Do your convenience stores have the woo factor? Are techniques in play to turn convenience channel shoppers into convenience channel buyers?

So many convenience store purchases are driven by impulse, with successful shopper marketing techniques said to improve that last bit of influence at the point-of-purchase, where many final buying decisions occur. Shopper marketing is not the only strategy for this – and it does not replace traditional marketing techniques for wooing customers – but it is developing an attention-seeking reputation.

“While online retailers like Amazon continue to grab market share within the retail industry, 71 percent of U.S. consumers say they still prefer to buy from physical stores if the same products are available online, giving retailers the opportunity and challenge of capturing those valuable consumers,” Matt Talbot, CEO of inventory software company GoSpotCheck, Told Convenience Store News.

“As a result, retailers and suppliers are testing marketing methods that aim to capture a consumer’s most valuable resource: their attention,” he explained.

“Top retail brands like Whole Foods, Lowes Foods and Apple are leading the way by testing new tactics like virtual reality, social shopping, and robots to try and lure customers.”

The way another expert sees it, shopper marketing should be viewed as a tactical approach to sway consumers who are open to being swayed.

“The best shopper marketing understands the consumer dilemma at the moment of purchase,” said Rebecca Brooks, founder of Los Angeles-based Alter Agents, which has conducted nearly 100 shopper marketing studies across dozens of categories, including in the convenience channel for ampm. “For example, consumers might be weighing health against convenience and desire. A convenience store offers those choices starkly – you can get an apple or a health bar, but those Snickers look pretty darn good. A savvy marketer will be able to pull those levers and push the undecided to purchase.”

Brooks further explained that shopper marketing has historically been about point-of-purchase, impulse buying. It has relied on A/B testing and psychology to determine the best place for displays or the most eye-catching graphics.

“Today’s smart shopper marketers are realizing that messaging is king. Traditional methods still work, but savvy consumers are now looking for more information and messaging throughout the shopper experience,” she said.

Whole Foods’ story-oriented marketing with chalkboard-like/artistic signage in cluster displays around different products throughout the stores is one example.

“Shopper marketing isn’t just appealing to our reptilian brains and base instincts. It is evolving into a conversation with the shopper,” Brooks stated.

Selling Stories

Mike Anthony, global CEO of Engage Limited, which strategizes with both retailers and manufacturers on shopper marketing, cautions that “lots of things are called shopper marketing, but most of them are just in-store activities branded as shopper marketing.”

He thinks shopper marketing is beginning to evolve into being “more insight-based,” but there is still a long way to go.

“Most of what is done in stores is generic, tactical, price-based,” he explained. “Best-practice shopper marketing works on a higher level: identifying opportunities to drive consumption, and using these opportunities to target specific shopper segments – those that can drive growth.”

Others point out that shopper marketing has evolved from a weekly print ad and in, some cases, television to an integrated marketing communications strategy that requires social media, direct mail, email, mobile apps, as well as traditional media tools.

Shopper marketing today is said to be as varied as retail.

“It has to be. By its very nature, shopper marketing needs to be where the shoppers are. And where are shoppers? They’re in-store, online, offline, on mobile and on social,” noted Ryan Dee, creative director at Interactions, a Daymon Worldwide experiential marketing company that specializes in product demonstrations and sampling. “And the vehicles required to make an impact in each of these spaces are even more nuanced with POS [point-of-sale] collateral, experiential marketing, social media content, advertising (print and digital), and direct marketing, among others. And then there are the analytics of each of those vehicles and the Big Data that can be leveraged to create predictive models to inform the next campaign. And the cycle continues.”

The benefits to retailers of such an approach is that shopper marketing activities deliver growth long term, rather than just in the short term. Effective shopper marketing activities will help a retailer better meet the needs of its shoppers, and potentially help that retailer differentiate from its competitors.

In some cases, manufacturers are also helping to provide a shopper marketing edge.

“Big retailers, including convenience retailers, are looking for custom programs – developed by manufacturers with significant resources to better target and engage their shoppers – that build trips,” stated Carl Elliot, director of Nielsen’s convenience channel segment. “Shopper insights are a significant part of manufacturer selling stories as CPF [consumer packaged goods] sales are showing little to no growth.”

Shopper marketing is also viewed as a critical way for retailers to prove their relevance.

“Shoppers are inundated with so much these days, they’re looking for anything to help make their lives simpler and easier,” said Dee of Interactions. “To do shopper marketing correctly, the delivery must be targeted to a specific audience and convey – with simplicity – what need or want the product or service satisfies.”

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