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A group of top executives from some of the world's leading companies — including PepsiCo Americas Foods, Wal-Mart, Nestlé, Kimberly-Clark and The Walt Disney Co. — gathered at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, earlier this month to help the College of Business Administration launch its inaugural Shopper Marketing Forum.
“It is the hottest issue in retail and consumer package goods,” said forum organizer and associate professor of marketing Dan Flint. “Few other universities are paying serious attention to it — so far,” said Flint, noting his that shopper marketing is defined by “understanding how one’s target consumers behave as shoppers and leveraging this intelligence to benefit the company or brand, consumers, retailers and shoppers. The way shoppers are influenced by signage, coupons, packaging, in-store radio, promotions, etc. — all of this is shopper marketing. It is the strategy of engaging consumers while they are in the ‘shopping mode’ to build brand equity and persuade them to make purchases.”
Some of the issues explored at the forum included collaboration among supply chain partners in retail; improved metrics and return on investment (ROI) for marketing initiatives; gaining deeper insights into shopper thinking, behavior and value perceptions; and enhancing shopper experiences through state-of-the-art technology such as social networking and virtual simulations and displays.
The economic downturn, coupled with changes in shoppers’ behavior and attitudes, has forced companies to think about new ways to entice customers to buy their products, said Flint, noting research that shows shoppers choosing what brand to buy while they’re shopping 70 percent of the time. Further, 8 percent of buying decisions are unplanned, he said, while only 5 percent of customers are loyal to the brand of one product group.
UT has two other forums: the Supply Chain Strategy and Management Forum and the Forecasting and Demand Management Forum, both under the umbrella of the Demand Supply Integration Forums. The forums are research-based think tanks that bring UT faculty together with company executives to address key industry issues. Member companies pay a fee to belong to the forums and attend the twice-yearly meetings.
Crossmark, Deloitte and Progressive Grocer parent The Nielsen Company sponsored the university’s kickoff Shopper Marketing Forum, whose participants included retailers such as Pilot Corp. Pilot Travel Center and Walmart; manufacturers Bush Bros., Kimberly-Clark, Nestlé, Novartis, Pepperidge Farm/Campbell Soup Co., PepsiCo Americas Foods, Frito-Lay, Procter & Gamble and The Walt Disney Co.; and advertising firms Anderson Merchandising, Mars Advertising and Tracy-Locke.