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    Expert Column: Adapting Shopper Marketing Practices to the Digital World

    Exploring the tenets of a successful strategy

    By Michael Harris, Match Marketing Group

    I work in shopper marketing and I’m proud to do so.  There, I’ve said it.  Why? Well in addition to being fast-changing, unpredictable and an increasing part of the marketing mix, the really exciting part is that it’s just getting going. Marketing stands atop digital quicksand -- especially shopper marketing -- and the ground is shifting and shifting fast.

    Sadly too much of today’s shopper marketing activity is conceived for the analog, pre-smartphone world. It’s tactically driven and forcefully siloed into transactional channels and communications that value short-term volume growth.  That’s the way the marketing community and their agencies like it: neat and predictable. But, it’s not how consumers behave. Nearly all shopper marketers use some form of a "Path 2 Purchase" model.  Visually, some models look like funnels, some like cyclones or turbines but all fundamentally involve stages of awareness - most often advertising, content to fuel consideration, incentives to encourage action and prompts to drive post-purchase sharing.  Personally I feel these models fail to acknowledge the seismic shift in consumer and shopper behavior wrought by changes in society, economics and most of all technology. What if the total Path 2 Purchase was three clicks: search, buy, ship, or even two: read tweet and buy?

    Mobile Users on the Rise

    The digitally connected shopper is already here (more than two-thirds of Americans had a smartphone last year, with similar percentages for Canada) and digital influence will only grow as Millennials become full-fledged shoppers and Gen Z, those born after 2004 and don’t know a world without Facebook or Twitter, begin to enter the consumer marketplace.

    Anyone who doubts the importance of our digital devices needs to do some quick math. There are already 7 billion mobile devices in use globally (more than one for every person on planet earth) and research from The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that this number will increase three-fold over the next 10 years. Also, according to a Morgan Stanley study, online and online-influenced packaged goods purchases are projected to grow from 36 percent of today’s $5.0Trn market to almost 85 percent of a $6.2Trn market by 2019.  And in case you’re still on the fence, here’s further evidence of the profound changes in shopper behaviour for your consideration:

    • 31 percent of CPG decisions are influenced by mobile activity
    • 79 percent already use their phone for shopping related activities
    • 74 percent of shoppers made a purchase in-store as a result of mobile phone activity
    By Michael Harris, Match Marketing Group
    • About Michael Harris Michael Harris is a managing partner at Match Marketing Group.

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