Friday, February 22, 2019

Building A Shopper Marketing Discipline

By Jon Kramer | June 12, 2018

This article highlights the critical steps required to build a successful Shopper Marketing discipline and identifies what it takes to win in an evolving environment.

In the US, “Shopper Marketing” seemed to leap into the industry vernacular, driven by the Deloitte/ GMA report, “Capturing a Shopper’s Mind, Heart and Wallet.”

Creating a new discipline is not so simple. While the need is clear, what new departments and budgets are supposed to do, and where they fit in the organisation are not. As the environment continues to shift, shopper marketing needs to focus on tying together many traditional marketing and sales disciplines.

Massive trends are disrupting the binary roles of sales and marketing. New requirements drive complexity. What’s required is not only more diffusion but better understanding of a rapid, ever-shifting retail and shopper landscape. Practitioners need to understand a whole new interconnected ecosystem of shopper and retailer requirements, such as retailer-specific shopper personalisation. They also need to thoroughly comprehend how categories fit into retailer differentiation and loyalty strategies to help find ways to build differentiation.

This article will share the steps required to build a successful Shopper Marketing discipline and identify what it takes to win in an evolving environment. The process can be boiled down into 7 critical steps.

It is important to understand a shopper marketing strategy needs to stem from a strategic vision of the future, and an understanding of what must be done today, to deliver on that vision.


Why is shopper marketing critical to your categories? What are the shopper dynamics driving the need? Where are your key retailers in defining the discipline and building programming? And what’s required to succeed? Understanding the relevance of shopper marketing to your categories and brands is critical to framing the proposition internally, as well as the strategies you pursue for programming and analytic outputs.


After identifying the need, you should define what shopper marketing needs to achieve for your organisation? It’s important to have a definitive point of view on the role of shopper marketing to clarify both the mission and deliverables.


Getting input from the broader organisation is extremely important in earning support and engagement. Be sure to meet with all internal constituencies, and other partners who collaborate with shopper marketing and influence the process.

Ask what is and isn’t shopper marketing? You may not want your sales team defining shopper marketing based on a lack of understanding of what you are trying to achieve. It’s helpful to have your definition prepared to review in your stakeholder interviews.

Five must-ask questions for your discussions:

1. How committed are you to    shopper marketing?

2. Do you believe shopper   marketing can be a strategy for delivering growth?

3. Is it well defined today?

4.What strategic purpose(s) should it serve?

5. What do you believe is required for best-in-class and why?


The next step is to compare internal planning and programming to peers. Develop share groups, and/or industry interviews. Engaging a consultant to provide input might be a valuable resource in this step. Don’t forget to speak to your key retail partners to understand what their expectations are. When you go into exploratory conversations, have a specific list of capabilities and best practices you want to understand. For example, dig into the following areas to see how your peers are tackling:

1. Data and Insights 

2. Planning and Execution 

3. Measurement 

4. Talent & Partners 

5. Systems and Tools


With a benchmark in hand, you may realise you need to upgrade talent, insights and analytics capabilities, training, processes, or systems. Understanding competitors and retail customers will help identify external opportunities and threats. For instance, an improved retailer joint business planning approach or filling in gaps in coverage for key accounts may become a priority as a result of this exercise.


You must demonstrate to internal influencers and decision makers how understanding both consumers and shoppers will deliver a measurable contribution to the bottom line. This is an extremely important task, as it puts a stake in the ground for a tangible contribution to the organisation. It will also align key stakeholders to its contributions while pointing the shopper marketing organisation to specific deliverables.

There are several ways to identifying the size of the prize:

1. Top-down Approach: Identify   a specific dollar contribution goal delivered to the organisation  as result of shopper behaviour change. For example, success might mean one more item in the  basket, or two more points of market share. Determine what this will mean for your brands,  and build it into your brand

volume bridge and financial objectives.

2. Bottom-up Approach: This may require more time and retailer-specific data to build shopper metric benchmarks by channel and customer. It is a highly effective strategy, as it allows the ability to assign specific roles to channels and customers and begins to help prioritise investments.

Providing a vision of long-term success and a roadmap to get there will help your company leaders understand the KPIs at each stage. Ongoing success and your already accomplished “pre-sell” internal alignment will trigger additional investment into the shopper marketing capability and further elevate it as a strategy for growth


With the above in hand, you now know how shopper marketing should become a strategy for your organisation. You understand the internal challenges; know the size of the opportunity; see how to paint the vision and mission, and list specific behaviour changes required to get there.

Key components for your recommendation:

1. Summary of findings from steps 1–6 above, including gap analysis and size of the prize

2. Asking for approval to commit resources to aggressively pursue the opportunity

This should not be viewed as a quick-fix initiative.

The above steps should provide the platform to begin executing a Shopper Marketing initiative for your organisation. However, you need to understand that shopper marketing is a journey, not a destination.

The longest journey starts with the first step. Good luck

Jon Kramer, Managing Director, JMK Solutions. Jon is a Marketing Services veteran with 35+ years of experience and an early Shopper Marketing practitioner as CEO of the J Brown Agency. JMK Solutions offers a vast network of experienced resources, providing superior capabilities, including Retail & Shopper Marketing Insights & Programming, Organisational Capability and Restructuring, Innovation access through Silicon Valley Incubators, RFP Optimisation through “RFP Future Solutions” tool and Marketing Services.






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