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Market trends point to bright future for retail media networks: Expert panel

By Retail4Growth Bureau | August 20, 2021

There’s a lot to attract brand advertisers to retail media right now, states Gal Shivtiel, Managing Director of Great Ideas Group UK.

A panel of Singapore’s marketing experts addressing a session on ‘Future Trends in Retail Media Networks’, organised by FairPriceGroup Media, Singapore identified the rapid development of ‘retail media networks’ as a significant trend and major opportunity for brand advertisers, as they attempt to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

In basic terms, retail media networks are when retailers make their digital and physical locations accessible to other advertisers, e.g. brands advertising on a grocery retailer’s in-store digital screens or on its e-commerce website.

Gal Shivtiel, Managing Director of Great Ideas Group UK (and a former senior executive at Walmart and Coles) said of the trend: “There’s a lot to attract brand advertisers to retail media right now. Aside from the benefits of moving closer to the customer online, retail media offers an entirely brand safe environment and provides advertisers with access to the retailer’s first-party data for targeting purposes, side-stepping the problems associated with third-party cookies.

“In terms of performance, many brands say they see significant increases in ROI/ROAS thanks to investments in retail media. With some published studies estimating that for every $1 spent on a global omnichannel platform, as much as $11 is spent in-stores on the advertised products. What’s more, with retail media, spending can be closely tracked and allocated to deliver impactful brand messages at any stage of the consumer’s journey, from awareness through to conversion.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Vivek Kumar, Director, Strategic Marketing & Omnichannel Monetisation at the FairPrice Group (FPG), who was joined by Shiv Choudhury, Managing Director & Partner, BCG; Franck Vidal, Regional Director, Havas AdCity; plus Pauline Png, Head of Customer Experience and Marketing (Food Services) and Raphael Zennou, CEO, Digital Business, both of FPG.

Kumar, honorary chairman of the global CMO Council Advisory Board in Asia Pacific, set the context by sharing a 2021 survey fielded by the CMO Council in partnership with the C-Suite Network, and a Harvard Business School alumni association. The survey found that revenue and sales growth is the top deliverable for marketing, as reported by 80 percent of survey respondents, with customer acquisition and profitability a close second (71%).

Choudhury opened-up the conversation by considering the range of factors that are propelling media retail networks into the spotlight right now. He said: “Retail media networks have been around for a few years, but most brands are just getting to the point where they have the right tech stack and the right mindset to make the most of the opportunity. If you think about the stages of the purchase funnel (awareness, consideration, pre-purchase and purchase) often there hasn’t been enough investment around the ‘consideration’ and the ‘pre-purchase’ stages. We’re now seeing a lot ad money flowing into the middle of the funnel.”

Choudhury believes another reason for the rapid rise of retail media networks as an advertising channel is that it’s become much easier to measure and attribute their impacts.  “Previously, there was always an issue of personalisation versus reach: digital media could do personalisation well, but they didn't have the reach brand marketers were looking for; meanwhile, offline media like TV and radio had reach but no personalisation. The ability to adapt and serve digital ads that recognise the context of the consumer is a real game-changer for marketers. The pilots we’ve run for clients so far have seen retail media network campaigns double and even triple the average ROI on media spend allocated to other channels.”

A time of change

Havas AdCity’s Franck Vidal pointed to the lingering impacts of the pandemic on the local advertising marketplace: “Since the circuit breakers in April 2020, we’ve been working with third party location data partners, and we’ve seen some clear shifts in the mobility of Singapore residents. In general terms, people are staying closer to home and there are fewer geographical hotspots with high concentrations of people.  

“Another lasting impact is on ‘dwell time’ in retail. We know that the supermarket audience is growing versus pre-COVID level, but, at the same time, the time spent within physical stores is down slightly. In that sense, digital and dynamic in-store advertising needs to become even more strategic, dynamic & contextual to catch the shoppers’ attention.”

FPG operates Singapore’s largest Retail Media Network, covering more than 570 retail & dining locations and 1500 food stalls. FPG also has Singapore’s largest loyalty programme (Plus!) with 2.3 million card holders and 400,000 FairPrice app users.

Pauline Png spoke of how restaurants and fast food chains typically do not open up their space for other brand advertising. Therefore, FairPrice Group Media opening up its large footprint of coffee shops and food court format spaces offered advertisers a totally new and unique chance for brands to engage customers in conversations over a meal which is a natural on-site brand referral and sharing opportunity.

She said: “The food/dining space is a major engagement channel that is untapped and under-utilised at this point. Besides dining as a natural activity to trigger product/service conversation starters, brands will have a captive audience, where diners are sitting in one location for at least 30-60 minutes. It’s not a cluttered product space; minds are open to absorb new information and communication related to their families and daily lives like “What show should I watch when I get home? Should I take more vitamin supplements? Start planning for a vacation or even buying milk powder?”. That’s a great place for brands to be present not just for ‘awareness’ but also to start ‘consideration’ and ‘pre-purchase’ conversations among customers in their larger purchase journey”

Zennou of FPG discussed how the impacts of retail media networks on brand performance can now be comfortably measured as part of an omnichannel campaign. He said: “Our business partners can truly bring together a holistic customer journey across multiple touchpoints. The attribution model that we've built at FairPrice Group is world class. We're now launching more features in our app for in-store activation, meaning that whatever the intention of the brand, whether it’s customer acquisition, retention, awareness or a product launch, we can help them achieve and measure their goals through our attribution model.”

The panel agreed that marketers should be working towards providing seamless experiences for their customers by working out the various journeys they take to purchase and identify the points of friction in those journeys to help better target media spending.

In concluding the panel, Choudhury added: “If you're a brand marketer, this is a great time to experiment with retail media networks. The opportunity is real and verifiable. Whether it’s a small test, or a larger experiment, it would be a big mistake for brand marketers not to get involved.”

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