Does shopper marketing still have a place in today’s marketplace? The honest answer is – it’s pretty hard to say.
Historically, shopper marketing meant understanding how your target shoppers behave in different channels. It also meant leveraging this information to benefit your brand. However, it has undergone many iterations to stay relevant in the digital age. Morphing from something that only existed in the physical realm, shopper marketing now coexists with emerging technologies.
While it still tries to merge B2B and B2C marketing into a single discipline, there is a growing need for direct-to-consumer marketing funnels with the proliferation of digital strategies. Is shopper marketing becoming antiquated?
Understanding the Differences Between Shopper Marketing and Digital Marketing
First, let’s look at the two separate disciplines:
A decade or so ago, the path to purchase was a simple, linear route – a consumer heard of, or learned about a brand through advertising in traditional media (billboards, radio, TV ads, etc.). If they were convinced, they’d go to a brick and mortar store to purchase it.
Shopper Marketers would use retailer sales and purchase segmentation data to identify the different kinds of consumers and their buying mentality, to arrive at the ideal offline marketing strategies to target them.
Types: Merchandising displays, use of coupons, sampling demos, shelf signage and other materials, etc.
Goal: Shopper marketing uses a variety of innovative techniques to influence customers at the point-of-sale
Brands have started spending more time where their customers are—selling direct to customers from their own e-commerce websites. With this, the data available for personalization has grown exponentially. The path to purchase is no longer linear and involves a slew of touchpoints to communicate with the consumer.
Types: Digital Marketing encompasses a whole gamut of services: Programmatic/display advertising, paid social, paid search, content marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, email marketing, and much more.
Goal: Providing the brand with an online space to spread awareness, provide customer support, to maximize and grow the business.
Parallel Lines to Overlaps – are the Paths Converging?
The primary difference between the two disciplines resided in shopper marketing focusing on lower-funnel strategies i.e. conversion, whereas digital marketers focused on creating brand awareness.
However, there are growing overlaps and parallels in both strategies (even the tactics and data being used), pointing ultimately, to one goal –driving sales. So, if shopper marketers are using in-store digital elements, and digital marketers are utilizing information from third parties with purchase data, what’s the real difference between the two?
Changing Tides and Ad Spends
- In-store Marketing Budgets Moving Online: While $178 billion is spent annually on in-store marketing, $55 billion could shift from traditional retail trade marketing to online ads.
- Big Brands Rethinking Strategy: Giants like L’Oréal, P&G, Heineken, and Phillips are now in competition for a piece of the “shopper marketing” budget pie, which is now moving online.
What’s Your Take on the Debate?
Do you think shopper marketing is still relevant, as a basis to, or in conjunction with digital marketing? Or, is it the latest victim of the technology-fueled change that’s upending the retail industry?
Either way, it seems that brands that are not embedded in one discipline. Rather, they take the best of shopper marketing and combine it with the power of one-to-one marketing to find growing interest and participation from their customers.