Silver Linings & Gold Standards

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Silver Linings & Gold Standards

By Peter Breen - 08/03/2020

It’s more than a little ironic that the importance of shopper marketing has been elevated during a national pandemic that severely limited the ability for brands to execute in brick-and-mortar stores.

We here at the Path to Purchase Institute continue looking for as many silver linings as we can during one of the more challenging periods in the history of our industry (not to mention our nation).

And I think we’ve found another one in the fact that it finally has become abundantly clear to the entire marketing community that shopper engagement doesn’t only occur “at retail” – because consumers are now “at retail” whenever they have a digital device and the urge to buy something.

“Shopper marketing is a bigger business than advertising,” said ad industry pundit and NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway in May, during a podcast discussion about Amazon Web Services and the digital media marketplace. I’m not sure if marketing budgets across the industry are supporting that assertion just yet, but I’m certainly not one to disagree with an NYU marketing professor – especially when he’s making a case for the importance of shopper marketing.

The discipline of shopper marketing has evolved tremendously in the last 12 years, which is the amount of time we’ve been publishing our annual Who’s Who in Shopper Marketing list. One of the more significant changes has been the fact that shopper marketing teams have been enlisted to drive e-commerce activity at many organizations. Why? Because they already knew how to work with retailers and influence purchase. As you read through the profiles of our 2020 honorees, you’re just as likely to read about digital commerce as you are in-store marketing.

Yet despite a generally accepted understanding of shopper marketing’s ability to drive sales in-store and online (and in-store via online), our industry still doesn’t have a standard method of measuring its effectiveness and, therefore, has a tough time proving its value in relation to other areas of the marketing mix that do.

This lack of measurement standards has held shopper marketing back from moving beyond its historical perception as a siloed, tactical function to be executed with retailers to instead be considered a comprehensive, strategic marketing capability within the organization that doesn’t just drive incremental sales but also sustainable brand growth.

We now plan to solve this problem. The Institute, in conjunction with our Advisory Board and a few key partners, has formed the Commission to Standardize the Measurement of Shopper Marketing, a consortium of industry leaders that will work to foster an objective, industry-wide understanding of the true value of shopper marketing across the entire path to purchase and a standard approach to measurement that can be adopted across the industry.

It’s an ambitious goal but a worthy one to establish something the industry has sorely needed for quite some time. And we’ve enlisted a “Who’s Who” of leading companies to join the Commission and help us achieve it. As this issue went to press, we were finalizing plans with key partners and preparing for the group’s first official meeting at the end of July. We’ll keep everyone updated on our progress in the magazine and online.

In the meantime, we’ll keep looking for more silver linings.

More Blog Posts In This Series

Flattening the Funnel

I am writing this Editor’s Note just after concluding the all-new, all-virtual Path to Purchase Digital Expo. When you participate in a three-day marketing conference as both a speaker and attendee and you wear sweatpants the entire time (even when dressed in formal attire from the waist up), your thoughts can tend toward the surreal.

Keeping Up With the Times

If there is a single image that, for me, aptly illustrates the seismic changes currently taking place in our industry, it’s a shelf talker I noticed at Stop & Shop in early September.

An Update on 'SM2'

​​​​​​​I wanted to use this month’s Editor’s Note to provide an update on a special industry initiative first mentioned here in August.

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