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Retail customer experience trends for brands and marketers

“Shopper Marketing” has become jargon: everyone talks about it, but no one can quite agree what it means. Instead of worrying about definitions, our newest white paper shifts the conversation to the broader context: designing better shopper experiences.

Simple? Yes, but with endless adaptive possibilities and implications, we think this take on shopper marketing has got a shelf-life to last.

Retail customer experience trends for brands and marketers

  3. 3. Reality check in aisle three: Shoppers want moreLiz BighamAt various points I’ve heard predictions about how a newinnovation would make an old experience obsolete. Emailwas going to make FedEx go out of business; webcastsand virtual events were going to be the death of eventmarketing; and user-generated ads were going to exposeagencies as dinosaurs.In fact, new innovations force people, brands andcompanies to ask what their core value is – and give thema chance to recommit to providing that core value in newand better ways. So FedEx still delivers assurance (even ifit dramatically expanded from the delivery business); eventmarketers balanced what can only happen live (visceralconnection, networking, serendipity) and enhanced thatexperience with new media; and agencies have refocusedon the enduring value they uniquely offer – strategic brandand consumer insight and brilliant creativity. New innovations forceAnother favorite adaptive example: National Public Radio(NPR) was one of the most prolific contributors of iTunes people, brands and companiespodcasts and has generally been ahead-of-the-curve inbringing their content to digital and all kinds of to ask what their core value is. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /3
  4. 4. Reality check in aisle three: Shoppers want moreother platforms. Because they define their value through Take this reality check: focus on the value you uniquelygreat content, not a channel (“radio”), they’ve been hugely deliver, and figure out how to do that better. Because assuccessful where other media brands have struggled to our research shows, consumers aren’t satisfied with thestay relevant or even stay in business (the fact that NPR shopping experience – they want more.isn’t an ad revenue model does help). Last year, as part of Jack Morton’s first Best ExperienceIn each instance, a “threatened” category or brand Brands report, we learned that among all the categories ofre-aligned around its core value and had the confidence experience, two areas had the biggest gaps between howto define that value as broadly as possible. important consumers said they were and how well they said brands were actually delivering. Those two areas?Behind the marketing industry’s current focus on “shopper How brands treat consumers when they’re in market (themarketing” there’s a similar opportunity for both retail shopper experience) and how brands treat them afterbrands and brands that sell through retail channels – they’ve bought (the customer experience). Some of theand that’s a lot of brands. biggest pain points in the shopping experience should be the easy ones: “providing an easy and efficient shopping experience”, “making it easy to shop whenever and wherever I want”, “understanding my needs”. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /4
  5. 5. Reality check in aisle three: Shoppers want moreThere’s no question: experience is important to consumers. To help brands address this gap in aisle three, a focus ofAlmost nine in ten participants in our research said the Jack Morton’s forthcoming Best Experience Brands researchuniqueness and differentiation of brands’ experiences (due in January 2013) will be probing the factors thatmatter when it comes to consideration – the fundamental most influence positive outcomes in shopper experience.“shopper” mindset. Even better, 78% said they’d pay more Stay tuned – and read on for recommendations and bestfor a unique experience. practices from Richard Vincent, Hanah Holpe and Matt Pensinger.Fixing the shopper marketing gap – understanding thatshoppers want more and redesigning your experience to If you’d like to receive early notification of our next Bestprovide it – is a signal opportunity for both retail brands Experience Brands global consumer research, reach me atand brands that sell through retail channels. There’s no question: experience is important to consumers. Liz Bigham is SVP Director of Brand Marketing, based in Jack Morton’s New York office DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /5
  6. 6. Shopper through a brand experience lensRichard Vincent It seems you can’t turn around these days without someone hailing the importance of shopper marketing. Pretty much every brand has their own shopper journey model, and in a world of big data they are seeking to understand the interconnectivity of communications on that journey. But talk to marketers and you’ll hear a multitude of definitions of just what shopper marketing is. Speak to marketing agencies and you’ll find an even wider and truly confusing array of definitions. It’s “the last three feet”, “the moment of truth”, “the aisle engagement”, “all about sales”, “the promotional messaging to seal the deal”. All of these definitions are partially right if taken within a wider context – that of the consumer state of mind, motivation and behaviour. Talk to marketers and you’ll hear a multitude of definitions of just what shopper marketing is. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /6
  7. 7. Shopper through a brand experience lensBut as a brand experience agency we have a simple Second, shopper marketing is not just about a particulardefinition of shopper. It goes something like this: sector such as CPG or FMCG. Shopper thinking, moving a consumer towards a sale, is relevant across all categories.Shopper marketing is all touch points, at any stage of a To use a personal example, I drive a BMW; I’ve hadconsumer journey that help a consumer move towards a three over the past 10 years. I consume BMW marketingsale. And that has at least two important implications that messages but I’m not in the market at present so I’m notshift us from traditional definitions of shopper. on a shopper journey, just in brand consumption mode. Next year I’ll probably replace my car and buy somethingFirst, it’s not just about shopping aisles and in-store. newer. Between now and then I’ll move from brandMobile and tablets will continue to completely reshape the consumption mode to shopper mode and start my journeydefinition of shopping “environments” beyond standard towards my next purchase. When I move into shoppere-commerce thinking. And by our definition, “shopper” is mode I will have a new level of interest and engagementas relevant to search and location-based mobile strategy as over my general brand consumption. I’ll be looking forit is to aisle messaging and retail incentives. It’s about all engagement that moves me towards my next vehicle.the engagements and the experiences that move a persontowards a sale. So what does this mean for marketing planning? It means that we need to map consumer engagement and experience from both a brand and a shopper perspective. Comprehension and engagement with messaging will change depending on which state of mind the consumer is in and their place in the journey. The trick is to understand the most influential route and the black holes that will take DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /7
  8. 8. Shopper through a brand experience lensa shopper in the wrong direction (away from your brand Why is a brand experience agency talking shopper?and towards a competitor). If a consumer is in shoppermode the online searches they make will differ from when We know that personal experience has the most impactthey are in brand mode, as will the questions they ask on consumer decisions. If I have a brand experience thatfriends or information they consume and seek in social gives me the opportunity to interact with a product, it canmedia. The areas of the web site they will focus in on will move me from brand consumption into shopper mode withchange and so too will their likelihood of getting involved remarkable speed. If I’m already in shopper mode, thatwith the brand at an event or in store. experience can close off any black holes that might send me to a competitor. And in the absence of that personal experience, receiving a recommendation from a friend who has had such a personal experience is the next best spark. After that is recommendations from third parties (90% of which is not happening online but rather face-to-face). We also know that brand experiences go deeper and last longer, meaning that consumers carry experiences into their shopper state. We also know that by linking experiences with other engagement media in a consumer journey creates a multiplying effect on impact. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /8
  9. 9. Shopper through a brand experience lensSo we can immediately see the relevance of brandexperience to shopper marketing: experience helps We must build experiencesto cement and inform purchase decisions quickly anddecisively. Consequently, as a brand experience agency away from the drivewith a focus on shopper we need to do three things: consumers along their journey 1. We must seek to understand the consumer to purchase. journey and the key points of consumer influence. We need to recognize the “black holes” in the journey to ensure these are plugged. 2. We need to ensure the brand experience within the shopping environment, whether physical or digital, serves to enhance the message and crystalize the offer. An experience is 3D, real and immediate and can therefore significantly impact sales metrics. 3. We must build experiences away from the store (physical and virtual) that are designed to drive consumers along their consumer journey towards their purchase moment their “first moment of truth”. Richard Vincent is Head of Consumer in Jack Morton’s London office. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /9
  10. 10. Who’s afraid of showrooming?Hanah HolpeRecently there’s been much ado about the threats to brick-and-mortar retail of so-called “showrooming” – consumerslooking at merchandise in-store, leaving empty-handed, Change can be scary.then buying online for less money – leading somemarketers to panic (needlessly, I’d argue) about howtechnology will affect their business rather than embracingchange. Yes, the change is dramatic, and change can bescary. But even as “traditional brick-and-mortar” becomesobsolete, “retail” will grow ever stronger if retail brandsapply the lesson of other major business model disruptions:adapt or die.Retailers need to stop fearing new technologies thatthreaten their existing business models and start focusingmore on integrating them in their core brand experience.Consumers aren’t going to stop using technology to sourceproduct reviews, receive offers, and find better deals.What retailers need to think about is how their entirebrand experience (both in-store and online) can shortenthe path to purchase via a differentiated and empoweredexperience – one that will incentivize consumers to not onlybuy in-store, but also to buy now and return to buy more. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /10
  11. 11. Who’s afraid of showrooming?This means that retailers need to go further to ensure thatthey offer consumers the absolute best and frictionlessshopping experience. Everything matters: smartphoneapp, merchandising, employee interaction, lighting, smell,music, check-out experience. According to Forbes, 82% Take Walmart: their proprietary app allows consumersof consumers prefer to shop in-store where they can touch, to build a shopping list before their trip, discover andfeel, and interact with the products they’re looking to buy. “clip” coupons, map the aisle-by-aisle journey once in theThe challenge now is to leverage the newest technologies store, scan items in-aisle to check the price, and integratesto give consumers all they need to make an informed with to ship any items to the consumer thatpurchase and incentivize the immediate gratification aren’t currently in stock. Consumers can use their phoneof buying now. Instead of seeing technologies such as to pay and bypass the check-out line. By taking a holisticAmazon’s PriceCheck as a threat, retailers should think approach and leveraging technology to enhance the in-about how they can create similar technology-enhanced store experience, Walmart can drive consumers throughshopping experiences that steward consumers through the the front door and all the way to checkoutentire shopping journey. (and back again).Thinking about a consumer’s path to purchase is a great And it’s not just about sales, specials, and daily to start. More and more, it’s not a straight path at all: Jack Morton research shows that 75% of consumersit’s a circular journey of brand engagement that generates would actually pay more if they knew the brand theyboth loyalty and ultimately sales. At best, all along that were engaging with would give them a differentiatedjourney are seamless, additive experiences that reinforce experience. Consumers become loyal to a retail brand notcore brand attributes. just because of the products you carry but also because of the experience they have while they’re engaging with you. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /11
  12. 12. Who’s afraid of showrooming?So what are some ways retail brands could create • Act as a brand butler: Anticipate shoppers’ needsdifferentiated shopper experiences? As a marketer and a from start to finish. For example: my local grocershopper, here are some of my recommendations of better has dedicated parking spots for expectant and newin-store shopping experiences that could drive sales: mothers (great) but not a dedicated checkout line (not as great).• Focus on service: Educated staff that work with • Be present for (all) the occasions that matter to (all) consumers to find solutions and provide guidance your shoppers: Many retailers do a great job of will drive sales and loyalty. building experiences around obvious occasions like• Provide price guarantees: Don’t lose a sale due to weddings, sporting events and holidays. But there cheaper prices from Internet retailers. Create policies are a lot of other life occasions – quinceañeras, that allow for immediate price matches if a consumer graduations, first jobs, first homes – shows you a place where they can get it when brands can be present. more cheaply. • Make life easier – especially for holiday shopping:• Invest in product training to drive sales: People that Every year I dread carrying presents (which for genuinely “get” products will sell more of them. security reasons can’t be wrapped) on flights to For items like consumer devices, it’s a no-brainer visit family and friends. There must be millions of to provide focused product training. For example, shoppers out there who’d be truly grateful to retail we’ve created programs for a mobile device maker brands that would allow them to buy online at to train its carriers’ retail employees on new devices; home, then pick-up in-store at their final destination. those employees’ sales were 25-50% higher Variations on this theme would also work. What if than other staff. urban consumers were given better local delivery options? What if you could both buy and ship from the brick-and-mortar retail store in a more seamless, time-efficient way? DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /12
  13. 13. Who’s afraid of showrooming?Retail brands don’t really have a choice about embracingchange. From my conversations, I sense they know that. Act as a brand butler:Still many are fearful and moving too slowly to createevolved, holistic shopping experiences like those I’ve Anticipate shoppers’ needsdescribed. Let’s look to history for instruction. What from start to finish.happened when companies reacted to past disruptionswith fear? Not pretty. But, for example, what if the USPostal Service had had the foresight to embrace email asthe future of communication and weave that into its coreexperience? At the time, it would have been radical, butnow it doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Retail brands shouldembrace the technologies they fear and focus on creatinga better shopper experience. Hanah Holpe is a Creative Strategist in Jack Morton’s Chicago office. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /13
  14. 14. Shoppers don’t come first – retailers come firstMatt Pensinger Brands and retailers need to build on their partnerships now more than ever.I once heard a very smart marketer say that “Customers in the right way, to the right shoppers. And all thatdon’t come first – employees come first.” I believe he meant depends on brands’ success in first engaging retailthat if you don’t treat your people right and give them the partners – treating them right and giving retailers thetools to promote your brand, your customer tools to promote products.experience will suffer. In our view, the first step to success in shopper marketing isArguably, this analogy also works in the realm of shopper. engaging the retail channel and taking smart steps to buildBecause behind every compelling consumer shopping a differentiating brand position with the range of retailjourney there are a myriad of trade and retail channel stakeholders from buyers to sales associates.touchpoints that brands must navigate in order to get theirproducts on a physical or virtual shelf at the right time, DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /14
  15. 15. Shoppers don’t come first – retailers come firstToday’s brutal environment means retailers aretremendously hungry for growth – and ready to partner. The first step to success in shopperBrick-and-mortar retailers are pressured to improve margins marketing is engaging the retailand revenue per square foot, and they’re constantlyevaluating ways to reset their product assortments to find channel and taking smart stepsany edge. Online, retailers face challenges to differentiate to build a differentiating brandand drive consistent traffic and shopping cart checkouts position with the range ofbeyond flash sales and free shipping offers. And retailersof every kind are working harder to ensure that shoppers retail stakeholders.feel connected to the customer experience they provide –not just to the brands they sell.All of this creates a world where retailers, from grocery todollar and big box, are demanding more and more fromtheir suppliers. Looked at more optimistically, it also meansthat they’re open for new ideas. Brands and retailers needto build on their partnerships now more than ever, andfind ways to merge their interests in ways that speak toshoppers by enhancing their experience – pre- store,in-store and post-purchase. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /15
  16. 16. Shoppers don’t come first – retailers come firstThe most successful brands work with their retailers to build 2. Build plans around your mutual interest ina better experience for shoppers at the point of purchase growth – Reactionary and generic price promotionsby embracing the following principles: have been replaced with customized, long-term planning between brand manufacturers and retailers designed to fulfill each side’s need to 1. Lead with insights about your shared target cultivate consumer loyalty over time. Acknowledging consumer — Retailers are not at a loss for consumer the shared mission of building brand equity and shopper data, but sifting through it to unearth and ongoing shopper loyalty is now allowing a the actionable insights that drive sales is an new level of shopper marketing partnership that unending task. They’re always looking to further is centered on delivering holistic value (retail understand their shoppers, and to make connections experience + brand experience) to the consumer. In between their pre-store behavior and what will addition, smart brands are looking for opportunities delight them in their aisles. More and more, to launch big initiatives to their retailer customers manufacturers are sharing deeper explorations into outside of line reviews and annual planning sessions their consumers as a way to not only show how in order to stand out as partners who can deliver their actionable insights drive brand and product new growth opportunities. innovations but to also educate retailers about category growth opportunities (even outside their brands), demonstrating a committed partnership to the retailer while also differentiating from the competition. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /16
  17. 17. Shoppers don’t come first – retailers come first 3. Invest in people to create in-store advocates – The success of shopper marketing is defined by the process It’s time to look beyond product assortment and and experience for how a consumer finds, compares merchandising to the critical role people play and ultimately transacts for a product. By building in delivering a great shopper experience. More and deepening partnerships across the retail channel, brands are partnering with retailers to develop brands have the opportunity to fully articulate their value and deliver training and front-line associate brand proposition and build advocacy in the process. engagement programs that drive sales conversion. These efforts improve the shopper experience by allowing retailer employees to better (and more passionately) educate consumers on products and their benefit (think of the task of quickly helping a consumer to differentiate features and benefits of today’s smart phones) and communicate facts such as ingredients or other product benefits. Matt Pensinger is SVP, Managing Director in Jack Morton’s Chicago office. DESIGNING A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE /17
  18. 18. THIS IS JUST PART OFTHE CONVERSATION.HERE ARE A TALK TO JACKFEW WAYS TO Liz Bigham E: liz_bigham@jackmorton.comTALK T: +1-212-401-7212 Read our blog at Follow us on twitter @jackmortonTO Visit us online at jackmorton.comJACK