Magazine article Marketing

Getting Straight to the Point

Magazine article Marketing

Getting Straight to the Point

Article excerpt

The downturn has meant that consumers are placing an unparalleled focus on deals, making it even harder for brands to achieve standout in store, writes Mary Cowlett.

With research showing that at least 70% of brand choices are made in store, food and drink marketers are, not surprisingly, keen to convert shoppers into buyers at the point of purchase (POP). Nowhere is this more evident than in supermarkets, where consumers' focus on value has driven the trend for retailers to push their own-label products.

According to trade body the Grocery Manufacturer's Association, POP, or shopper marketing, is expanding faster than internet advertising, and is on track for an annual growth rate of 21% by 2010. Last month, Procter & Gamble's global brand-building officer, Marc Pritchard, told the firm's marketing partners at an agency summit in Cincinnati that 'if (a marketing idea) doesn't work at the store, it's a miss'.

Meanwhile, drinks company Diageo has been advertising for two dedicated shopper marketing manager roles at its HQ in West London. It promises candidates 'a new role in a new type of marketing for Diageo through developing game-changing, shopper-facing campaigns, driving the category and our brands'.

There is a problem facing FMCG brands in the current economic environment, however. Although consumer confidence in supermarkets appears to be returning, both shoppers and retailers have learned to adapt their in-store behaviour and neither are likely to be easily swayed.

'Brands need to change their POP strategies, as there's a new game in town,' says David Roth, head of global retail across communications services group WPP. 'Yes, consumers have returned to the stores, but they are still conscious that they don't have expanding wallets, so they have developed coping mechanisms.'

One of these 'coping mechanisms' is a tendency to write shopping lists before heading to the store. However, this trend is not necessarily all bad news for marketers. '(The shopping lists) may not be absolutely brand specific, so there is still the opportunity to lever their choices within the store,' adds Roth.

This view is backed by the latest promotions and customer loyalty report, published in September by grocery sector analyst IGD, which shows that 37% of British shoppers buy items for the first time as a result of in-store promotions. 'We are increasingly seeing shoppers willing to experiment with how they shop, where they shop and what they buy,' says Michael Freedman, senior consumer analyst at IGD. 'With this more open mindset, they are more likely to be looking for offers, and to swap and change within a range.'

However, this does not mean that consumers are in favour of finding a bargain at any price. 'Shoppers are becoming more conscious of food waste and environmental issues and our research shows that a quarter of shoppers want to see an end to multi-buys on fresh food and almost three in 10 (28%) are concerned about food waste when it comes to promotions,' he adds.

Focus on value

Retailers have responded accordingly, seeking to underline brand promises such as Asda's 'Saving you money every day' and Sainsbury's 'Feed your family for a fiver' by shifting away from BOGOFs and multi-buy offers, to clearer POP messaging and promotions based on price.

'The supermarkets were using promotions to get share by taking consumers out of the market with multiple purchases,' says Joel Hopwood, co-founder of retail media planning agency, Capture, which works with Sainsbury's and its suppliers. 'Now it's less about the unit cost of a loaf of bread, for example, and more about lowering the price of the overall shop at the till.'

The problem for brands looking to maximise their marketing in store is that space and opportunities are limited. Moreover, the supermarkets own the context in which any activities or messaging will take place. …

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