It’s Time for Shopper Marketers to Step Up To the Plate

"Level 2 has arrived and most of retail will be in its initial phase of re-opening of their physical stores. In the world of Grocery, stores have been open for all but one of the 49 days we have been in COVID Level 3 & 4.

Those 49 days have seen significant restrictions and controls and no more than in the Grocery shopping environment; shoppers wearing masks and gloves, stores queuing shoppers outside the store to minimise numbers and the introduction of one-way systems for aisles to manage social distancing.

How are shopper reacting to these changes and the broader messaging and impacts of the COVID lockdown?

Research has shown, as encouraged, shoppers are planning their store visits more than ever before.  The shopping list has re-emerged as the must-have accessory.  “Smart, Savvy and Saving” seems to be emerging as shopper’s mantra, driven by a focus on how they spend their current income and foresee for the future.  Grocery shopping has never been more functional and transactional; fun, spontaneity and the pleasure of discovering new and exciting offers has been virtually banned!

So, the question is. What should Shopper Marketers be focused on right now?

  • Control your own shopper assets

As shopper marketing is either restricted or minimised, stand back and re-assess the assets that you own as a business.  Is your packaging working hard?  Does your shelf ready packaging (SRP) deliver a shopper message that enhances the shopper’s experience or navigation.  As a Shopper Marketer you might not own these assets but their role in the shopping environment you lead is key.  Take action now and look again at these assets with a critical eye.

  • Seek to understand your specific shoppers

Its time to brush off all your shopper research and re-assess your understanding based on the economy and category you compete in.  Will shoppers seek value offers?  Will our products be seen as an affordable luxury in difficult times?  Does research need to be refreshed to maximise future activity?  Understanding your shoppers is key to deliver winning activations.

  • Re-assess and re-focus your shopper campaign spend

Get on the shopping list. Simple to say, and easily forgotten but currently vital. Shoppers are more planned and more cautious than at any time in the last 10 years.

What proportion of shopper spend is targeted pre-store?  Have you aligned with the consumer marketing approach?  Which pre-store tools are you supporting and are you confident that your message grabs attention / influences your shopper when planning their shop?

It’s time to re-assess which retailer marketing tools you use and potentially try something new.  I assure you the retailer’s shopper teams will be happy to catch up and motivated to prove their tools potential and return.  Make it work for you.

  • Raise the bar on your in-store

When you decide to activate in store, ensure it’s the best activation you can deliver.  Challenge your creative teams to really step up and deliver in-store solutions that demand shopper’s attention.  Just doing the same as before is unlikely to deliver the results you expect.  Now is the time to raise the bar and look to innovate, surprise and delight.

  • Activation is a team game

All my Shopper Marketing training sessions ask; How will you inspire others to bring your campaign to life?

Shopper Marketing is a team sport and you cannot do it alone.  Post lockdown, your field sales team may have been off the road or significantly re-focused on merchandising and supply chain management.

Now is the time to re-engage and inspire them to execute with excellence.  Create excite about the campaign’s potential, be crystal clear on the shopper behaviour you are impacting and provide selling stories which can inspire your retailer partners to support your activation.

Shopping Market has a chance to come of age in the NZ market. Step up to the plate and take the opportunity to deliver activations that engage and inspire shoppers and our retail partners alike.  Based on my Level 2 store visits, the time to re-engage with shoppers is coming fast.   Make sure your first campaign is the best campaign you can deliver and executed with excellence."

By Neill Arnold, Arnold Category Consulting