Why ‘Shopper Marketing’ is an Essential Part of IRL and Digital Campaigns

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What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Shopper Marketing”? Probably the usual tactics: In-store signage. Retailtainment activations like tasting events. Maybe even influencer meet-and-greets. But with our daily lives increasingly centered around the digital world, it’s time to think more holistically.

E-commerce continues to grow exponentially, with consumers spending $601.75 billion online in the U.S. in 2019, roughly 16.0% of total retail sales for the year. And, while many savvy shopper marketers have long known that a blend of digital and physical is essential for real ROI, current events have shown us the gaping inadequacies of any approach that isn’t cross-platform. You have fewer dollars to spend, and so they need to work both harder and smarter.

Shopper Marketing with Microsites

Digital strategies like microsites, item-level page takeovers, and digital coupons are showing us exactly how valuable they are. E-commerce jumped a gobsmacking 49% in April. A good chunk of that increase was driven by online grocery’s 110% leap, but electronics sales were also up 58%. Here’s where your dollars can make a big difference right now.

But though an emphasis on digital is the right call right now, this kind of pause in physical activity is a good opportunity for Shopper Marketers to educate clients on the need (not want, but actual need) to use digital and physical strategies in conjunction. Your physical efforts should feed into your digital efforts—and vice versa. It’s important to remember that 59% of shoppers use their mobile devices in-store to compare costs or research deals and coupons, after all.

This means developing strategic Shopper Marketing executions that leverage a cohesive message across digital and physical, which includes the same (similar) creative assets across all platforms. Specifically tailored for each individual platform, of course, because consumers have grown to expect different things in different environments, whether that be TikTok, Instagram, Amazon, or in-store.

And it doesn’t have to be some grandiose idea that will be daunting to execute. For example, a simple meet-and-greet with an influencer or local celebrity can very easily incorporate multiple hashtags attendees could use on social media platforms to tag photos and videos they took at the event. And these assets can then be leveraged as in-store signage and print ads in magazines that surround the checkout stands, or digital banner ads on grocery store sites and content on rewards apps like Shopkick, which can then be mapped back to sales.

That’s the real benefit of creating a synthesized digital-physical Shopper Marketing strategy: a way to measure real ROI. The definition of “real ROI” is going to differ from brand to brand, but the underlying measurements are going to remain the same. Click-through rates are a standard, coupled with sales lift and a general “return on ad spend” figure.

Shopper Marketing has perhaps never been more important.

Marketers must remember that there is a difference between just having a diverse set of tactics (digital and physical), versus having a diverse set of tactics that are connected by a singular creative thread. And when you do have the ability to create an in-person experience, you should be asking yourself what you can do to leverage that experience for digital content, and how you can tie in your TV campaigns. This isn’t simply a cross-platform approach, it’s a holistic one—one that places the shopper at the center and knows exactly how to reach them in each stage of their decision-making process.

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