by Stacy McWhorter
There are some great, well-known marketing, brand and shopper research conference opportunities each year. We typically hear about the “big ones” that last two to three days and are most likely a several-hour flight away. But recently, I have heard more and more about local “mini” conferences that tend to last just a day, and wondered if these smaller, less known events could be a good alternative. If you are short on resources (time or money), want to get a jumpstart on what’s going on in the industry before attending a larger conference, or simply wish to spread your learning throughout the year, you should consider attending one of these smaller conferences. If the ARF’s Mobile Remakes the Path to Purchase is representative of these one-day conferences, there is a lot to take away in just one day. Here are a few takeaways that stood out to me during my first one-day conference.
Analytical Investment is Important. Gayle Fuguitt, ARF’s CEO and President, set the stage for the day by reminding the audience of the importance of analytics and marketing research for companies. Analytics help answer the important questions needed to make the business decisions that impact the bottom line: Where should I invest in advertising? Does my current marketing strategy drive sales? Does it drive growth? Analytical investment is expected to increase significantly over the next couple of years, and companies that use analytics are five times more likely to make faster decisions – something that is ever important in our fast-paced world.
Focus on the Shopper. Current media and retail is fragmented, and it is important to keep the customer front and center. Kanishka Das and Bethanie Butcher from P&G said, “Done right, we shape the shopper path to purchase,” and they encouraged researchers to look at the aggregate journey of the consumer. Their session focused on what consumers want: personalization, the opportunity to know the brand, social engagement, value, products when and how they want them, consistency, and choice. Personalization and choice touched on the idea of product customization, which was a prominent topic throughout the day.
It’s Not All About Millennials. We have heard, and continue to hear, about Millennials. While this group is very important, it is not the only segment to consider when thinking about advertising or creating products. From a demographic perspective there are other important potential segments to consider such as moms and multi-cultural consumers. One presentation referenced that 81% of shopping last holiday season was from these three segments, which reinforced that understanding these groups and how they differ is critical. For example, mobile is a hub for Millennials, moms are on Facebook 1.5 times as much as non-moms, and Hispanics make up 17% of the US population with $1.2 trillion in buying power.
Unified, But Customized Advertising. The other “customization” theme (besides products) centered on customized advertising, with a unified marketing strategy. With the plethora of potential advertising vehicles at a company’s disposal, it was recommended to have one brand strategy and one overall look/feel across creative in advertising platforms, but customize where possible. Customization could be by type (e.g., online banner ad vs. sales circular) or by segment/individual (e.g., women vs. men). An interesting example was given about a retailer that customized the banner across the top of their email circular ad to the demographic information gleaned from their customer database. For instance, men saw products like razors and women saw products such as make-up, while the rest of the email content was the same.
Mobile Has Paved the Way for Omni-Channel Shopping. Mobile has transformed the way consumers shop. It is a tool that enhances a shopper’s experience, allows consumers to be more informed purchasers, and makes it easy for consumers to shop 24/7. An example of a younger female shopper clearly demonstrated how she seamlessly hopped from brick-and-mortar shopping to online purchases and back and forth again across a week’s time, at all hours of the day. Another presentation gave an “Omni-channel mandate” to meet shoppers on their terms and make shopping seamless between online and offline. Macy’s is an example of a retailer that does this well, as consumers can check store availability online and online availability in store at a kiosk. Another presentation echoed some of these themes and encouraged researchers to think about the entire shopper journey and then find where we can interrupt the journey (at the research, order, or delivery phase) with information that might change the consumer’s behavior–to buy more, buy different products, buy adjacent products, etc.
Aligning All Partners for a Win-Win Strategy. Various presentations discussed the notion of partnerships–manufacturers partnering with marketing research or database companies, retailers partnering with manufacturers, etc. In all, Special K’s presentation exemplified all of my takeaways combined, and they did it by forging a “special” project team across multiple companies (including brand, retailer, research and database) whose members all had a stake in the success of the project. The team invested in analytics to conduct research and understand what the customer of today wanted by focusing on the shopper. They also identified segments of interest (not just Millennials) and used unified creative across home, online, and in-store promotions. Partnering with Kroger, which has loyalty card data, allowed advertising efforts to have customized messaging across eight cells. Mobile and digital was used heavily during the media efforts to impact the Omni-shopper experience during pre-tail, retail, and post-tail. In the end, they impacted the business decisions and bottom line they set out to change: Trial and repeat purchases exceeded expectations with 3x ROI…a win-win for all!
Have you had a similar experience at a ‘mini’ conference? If so, what did you hear during your day? Reach out to me on LinkedIn or reach me through:
Email: email@example.com or Phone: 513-684-7994
As SVP in Client Services, Stacy McWhorter is passionate about consulting with her clients to create the best research strategies to answer their questions and impact brand growth.