The ISMI Shopper Marketing Summit in Chicago this week was a “brain on fire” event, very fitting for the 10th anniversary of a conference designed to be small, smart and easy to navigate and network. It delivered on all counts.
While just about every session I attended was high caliber, several notable speakers stood out as excitingly excellent! Yet in retrospect, they were at opposite sides of the insights spectrum. As the shopper marketing industry matures and becomes more “science” driven, it’s not surprising that the juicy new brain fuel is coming from the outside edges.
I like to learn and be inspired at the edges of the industry. To me it’s like choosing to explore the unknown stream with your kayak instead of just riding the tide of the big waterway. The discovery is always worth the extra effort.
The edges in insights are 3.0 versions of what I’ll call “DataData” and “ShopperShopper.” From a data perspective, it’s no secret we are swimming hard against the current but still drowning in an ocean of misused or underused data and information. Much of it is still only being bought and used for tracking and reporting today’s business or to answer fire drills in corporate silos, according to Jill Brant from KantarRetail. Jill told a story about her life, and the potential insights that could be uncovered and transformed into solutions by new methods in ways data can and should be “crunched” today. She challenged marketers to ask different questions of the data, and get better answers by layering data differently to find answers. Especially relevant for marketers that depend on relationships with grocers with loyalty card data.
On the post measurement side of the “DataData” method of deriving insights, Jill also posits that brand should re-examine how it measures shopper marketing strategies by using new analysis methods to discover “did the effort actually drive the change in shopper behavior I set as my objective?”
A notable example of different, creative ways to derive insight from data is the partnership that Safeway has with 4Square. When Safeway learns how many of their card-holding shoppers check in at the dog park weekly, it can offer me solutions in pet care (that might include snacks and even a portable water dish that fits in a shopper backpack) Smart, solution oriented and relevant to shoppers even without a coupon. Safeway can also socialize the offer through Facebook, Twitter and all of its other shopper communications vehicles.
On the “ShopperShopper” side of the spectrum, deriving insights from measuring shoppers emotional responses to visual cues and pattern recognition can also be a powerful way to adjust strategic activation at the shelf. Dr. Hugh Phillips of Phillips, Foster and Boucher presented shopper research that verifies instinctual shopper response to visual shape cues at the shelf. He used the Pringles can as an example.
I’ll interpret this in the dog treats frame of reference to illustrate his point. If we know shoppers respond emotionally to shape cues, why wouldn’t we shape the packaging or a display unit for dog treats to look like a dog bone. Giving dogs a treat is a more emotional satisfying experience for the owner than it is for the dog. Add a heart shape in the dog bone and the emotional interpretation for the shopper could instantly be recognizable as “doggy love.” Is anyone brave enough to test this and perhaps forever own the “shapes” that translates instantly to a powerful emotional/visual purchase cue? Why not get out on the edge and merchandise differently? Play at the fringes and potentially be a category change agent as well as a shopper-centric marketer.
Another shopper-centric insights effort that nicely combines both ShopperShopper and DataData is Shopper Sciences. John Ross, a classic storyteller, helped create and engagingly presented the science to use largely non-invasive sensors to track, aggregate and analyze shoppers’ subconscious response to just about any kind of stimulus. They can determine not only the nature of the influence on behavior, but why.
A cake mix manufacturer used the tool to uncover that the answer to gaining and holding share lies in helping the shopper feel confident in succeeding on her party vision and giving her creative ideas with directions to make that very special cake. These factors far outweigh deliciousness and price. With a package change and idea dispenser (not coupon) dispenser at the shelf, look for one brand to perhaps take a giant leap forward in a category that’s a virtual commodity display of center-store vanilla today. Ads can focus on confidence promotion, not product, and websites/videos can show what you do with the product, not what the product does.
From a Data/Data perspective, the heat-maps, charts and graphs the research produces are simple, clear and full of data that shopper marketers can use immediately to change their actions to better connect with shoppers. What’s more, the output includes a net influence ranking by media node, so the whole team knows how to re-allocate the same budget in a much more productive manner. Finally, a marketing mix solution that includes all of the pre-shopping tools such as offline social, search and online discovery. Nirvana for bold and ready-to-leap ahead marketers.
The shopper marketing industry suddenly teeming with innovation. I think the outputs from new methods of new insights methodology is perfect fodder for stimulus in the new ShopperSparksSM commercial innovation session service my firm just released. I’m looking forward to putting these new tools into practice with brave, bold marketers.
Let’s steer our kayaks off the main river and paddle our way up the edgy streams to new territories that will certainly lead to a plethora of engaging shopper solutions. As I’ve said before, my brain lit up with ideas as a result of the newest thinking in both DataData and ShopperShopper insights. Thank you ISMI for a world-class Shopper Summit. Happy 1oth Anniversary.