Over the course of two days in September, attendees of the Shopper Insights & Measurement Forum (a virtual event) heard from various industry experts. The thought leaders helped attendees understand and implement effective strategies for developing the shopper insights needed to drive growth and accurately measure digital retail impact.
The Forum brought together brands, retailers, solution providers and agencies to showcase how best-in-class organizations are staying ahead of changes in shopper behavior; what new strategies are being implemented for measuring program performance; and how industry leaders are developing growth-driving shopper marketing programs.
Among the highlights was a presentation about the Commission to Standardize the Measurement of Shopper Marketing (SM2), which has launched an Industry Playbook. For more on that session, see the Day 2 summaries below.
All Shopper Insights & Measurement Forum sessions remain available for replay by registered attendees 30 days after the event. The videos will remain available beyond that time frame to members of the Path to Purchase Institute in the presentation library at P2PI.org.
Day 1 Sessions
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Store: Tracking the New Shopper Journey
Theresa Lyons, Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, The Mars Agency
Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers understood the importance of convenience for today’s shoppers. But as online grocery shopping — with in-store or curbside pickup or delivery — gained staggering momentum in the last 18 months, opportunities to engage with the new omnichannel shoppers became even more critical for every marketer to explore.
Nuances to shopping behavior, as it relates in particular to the shopping journey, became apparent, and new moments to influence shoppers came into play. The Mars Agency leveraged its Marilyn technology to better understand the nine “Moments of Impact” in the BOPIS and curbside shopping journey, including planning, shopping, submitting, picking/subbing, finishing, transiting, arriving, waiting and fulfilling.
The journey isn’t vastly different during the planning and shopping phases, but once a customer hits the submit button, things change. Could the person fulfilling the order be the next evolution of influencers? Packaging becomes increasingly important, as are the opportunities marketers can seize to influence people during the latter stages. These are different than when a shopper is walking through the store or standing in a checkout lane.
Some of the notable differences in today’s omnichannel shopping behaviors:
- Proximity to any given retailer fell further down the list of priorities.
- Retailer choice is less about habit; these are habits that are still forming.
- There are opportunities to connect with shoppers at every step throughout this new path.
- The shopping experience is still very important — whether in-store or online.
- Shoppers are more likely to compare prices between brands but less likely to use coupons online. They’re also more likely to look for meal and snack solutions and check recipes and ingredients for an upcoming meal.
- The online experience has to be smooth and easy to navigate, and any dialogue, suggestions or alternatives offering inspiration will go a long way.
Creating Customer Connection
Rachel Bennington, VP of CPG, and Tom Donoghue, VP of CTV/OTT, GroundTruth
The ever-evolving shopper marketing space saw changes no one could have predicted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. GroundTruth adapted in real-time and began creating solutions for its customers in the form of location-based marketing efforts that can be applied across mobile, desktop, tablet, CTV and OTT to both increase and measure store visits and sales.
The company used its location-based understandings and data points to determine where consumers were shopping so it could help clients continue to drive advertising that was relevant to those shoppers while they were at home during the pandemic. The organization also enhanced its performance-based solutions to ensure it could provide valuable metrics that were proving sales and data points to shopper marketers.
GroundTruth offers shopper marketers unique data sets for location-based, audience and foot-traffic attribution. As it sees an increase in outdoor activity, foot traffic and consumers settling into their “new normal,” the company uses its in-stock targeting and other capabilities to strengthen shopper marketers’ arsenal, especially when it comes to connectivity with streaming.
“It’s one of the [main] ways we’re watching shopper marketers lean in with our location-based data to be able to now take our performance solutions and expand that across another screen that’s so valuable and that we can reach our shoppers on,” Bennington said.
Donoghue spoke about GroundTruth’s CTV and OTT practice and where it fits into a shopper marketers’ mindset:
- It ideally sits at the top of a funnel to influence at the consumer and shopper level. This way when they get to the point of purchase, they’ve already been exposed.
- It can work in combination with the company’s ability to track foot traffic attribution into and out of retailers.
- The company has the ability to target based on store lifts, and even prove out sales based on those test-and-controls.
- With its QR ability, marketers can use a code that can be generated on consumers’ big screens and have that shoppable experience, right from the comfort of their home.
How to Use Experiences — Online and In-Person — to Build Long-Term Customer Relationships: A Conversation with Michaels Arts & Crafts and AnyRoad
Daniel Yaffe, Co-Founder and COO, AnyRoad; and Jen Harness, Director of Content and Experience, The Michaels Companies Inc.
The last few years have brought about the onslaught of the “experience economy.” Brands are jumping into this idea to leverage experiences, to engage with consumers and bring in new consumers, according to Yaffe. He wanted to hear the main experiential goals for Michaels stores while conducting a Q&A with Harness.
Developing and honing its programs is a priority, said Harness. Making sure those programs “show up” for the maker and fill what it is that they’re looking for is the main goal. Experiences drive loyalty, and Michaels works with AnyRoad to connect data and bridge between these experiences and its loyalty programs. The feedback it gets from its supersegment of “makers” is what drives the company to evolve in new ways.
The Community Classroom Project allows the retailer to manage experiential marketing programs and turn them into valuable data. Through customized surveys that AnyRoad helped the retailer build — along with compiled data and execution tracking — the company was able to glean insights to create targeted marketing campaigns, promote classes and get students to interact with the brand.
Getting the technology right was key to success in scaling the program. AnyRoad implemented a self-service portal and automation tools in early 2020. This gave teachers more autonomy, earlier visibility to classes for customers, and shortened feedback response times, which is critical for iterations — all while giving the team at Michaels more time to focus on the customer experience.
Within weeks of the onset of the pandemic, Michaels and AnyRoad collaborated to create an online class program that helped reach more people more holistically. Now with both in-store and online programs available, people can experience Michaels wherever and however they’re comfortable.
To end, Harness offered advice about using experience as part of the retail strategy:
- Simply put: Do it.
- Don’t be afraid to test and learn. Be deliberate, with data and insights, but don’t be afraid to jump in without having all the answers.
- Determine your goals and what metrics align to those goals.
- If you’re flexible, you’re going to find success.
Weaponry for 2022 and Beyond: Retail Media Mix Management
Tammy Brumfield, SVP, Business Development, and Rick Abens, CEO & Founder, Foresight ROI
With radical changes in shopping behavior and omnicommerce media exploding and collapsing the purchase funnel, shopper marketers have big opportunities ahead — but they don’t come without risks. The lines between traditional media, retailer media and trade promotion are more blurred than ever, making it difficult for marketers to truly understand what’s working. Standardizing financial measurement to deliver a measure, learn and grow culture while employing a single metric to create a common language across an organization will link actions to impact and ultimately drive higher profits.
The digital shift is causing big changes in the marketing mix at a rapid pace. As retailer media networks continue to grow, retailers will be hyper focused on this growth since profits are estimated at approximately 80% versus selling groceries at 10%-20%. “The expectation and pressure to participate is greater than ever,” Brumfield said. “That’s a significant opportunity for CPG brands.”
Her advice to brands: Learning is not only critical but significantly important — the data available to a brand “is gold.” Brand marketers should embrace the opportunity to learn and grow from retail media and the first-party data available to them. Measure it, collaborate and the result will be mutually beneficial.
Brumfield and Abens further shared why shopper marketers need to understand:
- Why commerce media measurement at the most granular level is the new strategic imperative. To gain alignment, it has to be relevant and meaningful for all stakeholders.
- Why ROI is such an important KPI for standardizing measurement to prove and improve your investments. You cannot directly control your outcomes but you can control the actions you take. ROI informs you of the likely outcome and when you know what that is, decisions are much easier.
- Learn how to apply these findings to drive budget accountability and higher profits. Data-driven decision making is critical. When you do this, you will prove and improve your shopper marketing.
The Media Dollars You Didn’t Realize You Were Wasting
Julie Eddleman, CCO, DoubleVerify
DoubleVerify pioneered the practice of digital verification with the aim of safeguarding advertisers’ media investment. Its mission today is to make the digital advertising ecosystem stronger, safer and more secure.
Unprotected advertisers lose an estimated $66 billion to ad fraud each year, Eddleman reported, and more than 40% of all digital ads are never seen. “An ad that doesn’t have a chance to be seen, one that isn’t seen by a human or one that runs beside unsuitable content is not likely to drive business results,” she said.
There are four main components of quality:
- Ads must be free of fraud.
- They must serve in a brand-safe and suitable environment. The content of the page has to align with the brand’s values. Nearly 90% of consumers believe it’s a brand’s responsibility to ensure they are running on safe content. Further, 67% say they will stop using a brand if it appears beside false, inflammatory or objectionable content.
- An ad must be viewable to make an impact.
- Ads must serve in the intended geography. This is particularly important for shopper marketing campaigns that are looking to drive customers in stores.
To ensure these four components are met, DoubleVerify pioneered the DV Authentic Ad, an MRC-accredited metric that ensures companies are getting the inventory they paid for. It works across all buying platforms, including retail media networks, to give one common metric that covers all media buys.
By verifying media spend across channels, platforms and types, companies can protect their brand equity. This way ads are shown in a relevant environment that aligns with the brand’s values, drives ROI by maximizing its working media spend, and ensures that ad dollars are spent on real humans who are primed for purchase.
Building a Best-in-Class Insights Organization
Phil DeConto, VP of Category Management and Shopper Insights, Ferrero USA; Deb Monahan, Director of Shopper Insights and Capabilities, GSK Consumer Healthcare; and Stacey Riecks, Market Intelligence Leader, GE Lighting, A Savant Co.
With the goal of delivering the highest quality insights leading to shopper engagement strategies and delivering on retailers’ needs, panelists spoke about their teams’ roles within their organizations and working with internal and external teams.
“It really takes a village to accomplish this,” Monahan said. She reflected on the work her team has done that significantly impacted GSK’s go-to-market strategies, as well as how that work influences how the company is viewed by its retail partners. “We take these interdependent connections very seriously when we think about insights and developing our learning plans. We’re at the heart of the organization.”
Monahan pointed to the growth of emerging technologies such as virtual reality capabilities and artificial intelligence in research and testing. DeConto added that the sooner we can use technology to “get the numbers” rather than investing human hours to interpret and act on the numbers, the sooner it will begin to add real value. And Riecks touched on two new tools that have increased accessibility to data.
When looking to optimize the insights function, or in the case of the smaller, upstart brands looking to build out their insights function, panelists offered these suggestions:
- You can’t be all things to all people within the insights space. Find your niche, and bring a talking point or insight that will add value at the category level while at the same time make you and your brand stand out in the category. “Especially if resources, both human and financial, are lean,” Riecks said. “Be declarative about what you’re going to be able to accomplish and gain alignment throughout your organization.”
- Lean on industry and syndicated tools and insights, white papers and academia because there’s a wealth of knowledge out there that may help you narrow down what you’re trying to identify. Leverage them for the heavy lifting and figure out what parts of that fit with what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Leverage your external partners. They can support you, oftentimes more efficiently and effectively than going out and spreading yourself too thin.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected insights teams’ ability to capture the voice of the shopper. In speaking to how companies were able to adapt to this, Riecks offered that it slowed her team’s learning agenda and, ultimately, changed that agenda.
“[The pandemic] had a profound effect on our sales trends and we needed to understand from the voice of the shopper how it was affecting their behavior,” she said. The team used various technologies (some new) to get that pure voice of the shopper and consumer to guide not only product development but also its retailer and shopper insights groups.
Day 2 Sessions
Impacting Shopper Behavior in a Rapidly Changing Market
Dave Schaff, VP, Research and Insights, Ibotta Insights
As the fourth most popular shopping app in the U.S. with more than 40 million registered users, Ibotta gives approximately $250 million in cash rewards back to U.S. consumers on an annual basis. The app captures all shopping data from its users, as soon as each purchase is uploaded via a retailer loyalty card or receipt.
The team at Ibotta Insights, the market research vertical within Ibotta, leverages this data to answer and address business questions using custom insights and analytics to capture and track the subtle or dramatic shifts in consumer behavior, as well as to help clients target more effectively, ultimately driving volume and velocities for its partners.
In 2020, 75% of consumers tried a new product or brand or a completely new way of shopping. And for most, it was all of the above. So how do we truly understand shifting behaviors? How do we adopt these behaviors into our retail strategies? Studies have also shown that 45% of stated purchase behavior is inaccurate because consumers can have hundreds, if not thousands, of different trigger points that all lead to picking a product up off the shelf.
Schaff explained that if we truly want to impact consumer behavior in the dynamic and changing market we’re in, we need to start with verified purchase behavior and ensure we’re leveraging targets that can be continually refreshed as the retail environment and behaviors are changing.
Ibotta’s Vantage Segmentation Process works like this:
- Mapping actual shopper behavior and leveraging millions of shoppers and hundreds of millions of purchase records to identify segments.
- Each individual has a deterministic ID for targeting purposes. As purchase behavior changes at retail, the segments are updated and refreshed, which is very important from a targeting perspective. Ibotta maintains direct consumer connection from the very beginning of the segmentation.
- Deliver those IDs to an external partner and seed the model based on their lookalike models.
- Finally, deliver that entire audience of digital IDs to the preferred media partner to ensure the targeting of the right individuals, maintaining that digital ID all the way from beginning to end to ensure on-target exposures and, in turn, impact shopper behavior.
Understanding Success: Preliminary Findings from the SM2 Commission
Bill Haveron, Group Director - Shopper Marketing, Mosaic; Steve Tobias, Executive, Media COE, IRI; and Laura Nicklin, VP, EnsembleIQ
The Commission to Standardize the Measurement of Shopper Marketing (SM2) has launched an Industry Playbook, which gives brands and retailers the tools they need to better plan and evaluate shopper marketing investments as part of the overall media mix. Designed to illustrate the impact shopper marketing can have beyond incremental sales lift, the Industry Playbook established the vital role that shopper marketing plays in overall consumer engagement, said Laura Nicklin, vice president of research, insights and innovation at the Path to Purchase Institute.
Additionally, three modeling pilots (still in progress) will provide the industry with further guidance around measuring effectiveness, including standards, benchmarks and best practices. Findings from those pilots will be unveiled in 2022.
For more detail on the presentation, see this separate article.
What People Really Want from Brands in This Post-Pandemic Moment
Sarah O'Grady, VP, Brand Marketing, Valassis, a Vericast Business
Moving into the post-pandemic era, the new opportunities for brands to connect with their audiences are many. But marketers need to take a close look at the rules of engagement and understand how to most effectively grab attention and convert potential buyers as they eat, shop and gather in new and different ways.
Staying on top of consumers’ shifts in behavior has never been more important, and marketers need to expand their thinking because people’s expectations have changed, stressed O’Grady, reflecting on the 2021 Consumer Intel Report titled “The Cautious Return to A New World” from Valassis, a Vericast Business.
While the pace of change continues to be “mind-numbingly fast,” having a finger on the pulse of real-time data is imperative to help close the gap between marketers and consumers. The study found that 70% of consumers wanted to see more ads with messages supporting local businesses, their top request, closely followed by a desire for companies to make them laugh more. “People are fatigued by the negative advertising approach,” O’Grady said.
She outlined three recommendations to engage and delight people today:
- Deliver real value. Think offers, discounts, quality products and experiences. Offering savings always wins with consumers, but equally important is the trust they can place in the brands and products they buy.
- Meet people where they are. Whether that’s physically, emotionally, financially, on the sidewalk with their order … it’s all important. The past 18 months have introduced or accelerated behaviors in BOPIS, e-commerce with curbside pickup and delivery. But it’s also about exhibiting empathy, not just in the CX (consumer experience), but the HX (human experience).
- Whatever your brand ethos or value proposition is, find ways to offer memorable experiences. People ultimately still crave in-store experiences, and creativity and positivity go a long way in terms of winning the hearts and minds of people.
Changing Habits — Getting to the Buy
Eugene Adamson, Senior Shopper Marketing Manager, The Coca-Cola Company and Curt Munk, Chief Strategy Officer, VLMY&R Commerce
As the world moved more toward contactless commerce over the past year and the way in which we buy products drastically changed, marketers have been forced to reassess where and how they reach consumers. A recent study showed that 55% of all U.S. consumers have adopted mobile wallets compared to 38% in the pre-pandemic, according to Munk, who wanted to hear some of the latest strategies from Coca-Cola in his Q&A with Adamson.
Adamson believes contactless payments are here to stay. As more of Coca-Cola’s retailer partners are investing in store or club pickup, the company has been using data to target homes that use a click-and-collect method of shopping.
In the new reality, shopping is a 24-hour-a-day option. Some of the major club accounts have been heavily investing in their click-and-collect or club pickup, Adamson noted, and from Coca-Cola’s marketing perspective, that means reaching shoppers and consumers no matter where they’re located and at all times of day.
Based on recent insights and data about shifting consumer behaviors, Adamson shared three priorities for Coca-Cola going forward:
- Providing consumers with convenience is a main goal, but adding a layer of safety is critical. The company launched a new system called Pour by Phone for its Freestyle beverage system technology in which consumers can use their phone and an app to choose their order.
- Finding valuable ways to interact with consumers to keep them within the brand ecosystem is imperative. Coke has come up with unique digital ways to offer samples to club members or consumers when they’re physically in stores.
- Personalization remains a very hot topic. The company utilizes consumer data to reach specific households, adhering to the strict standards on how that data can be accessed and used, and then targeting based on its knowledge of typical usage periods.