Shopper Marketing decisions don’t just happen in store – brands need to reach the consumer at every moment of the purchase journey, including in their own homes, says Mark Davies of Whistl PROMOTIONAL FEATURE
There’s a famous statistic, which has been around at least since the 1990s, which suggests that two-thirds or more of shopping decisions are made in store.
The truth is much more complex and the figure (which can vary from 60% up to 82% depending on who you ask and whether they have an interest in promoting the use of in-store media) should not be regarded as an Absolute Moment of Truth. After all, if it were true, 70% or more of all consumer marketing spend would be committed to in-store media, wouldn’t it?
While it may be true that during an average shopping trip, consumers will make a number of decisions at the point of purchase, that does not mean that they delay making two-thirds of their decisions until they are standing in the supermarket aisles. In fact, the decision journey is much more complicated, and much of it happens in the environment where the consumer feels most comfortable – at home (an insight which IKEA has capitalised on).
What’s more, there is compelling evidence to suggest that reaching consumers in their own home, particularly if you can deliver samples of products, is massively powerful in generating sales and brand loyalty.
Direct to Consumer Promotions
There is growing evidence that brands are waking up to the opportunity of direct-to-consumer promotions. A more objective, data-led view of consumer shopping behaviour in the online age highlights those real-world marketing moments that count on the path to purchase.
To put it another way, reaching the consumer in their kitchen to promote a new washing powder or sitting on their sofa to try a new snack is now part of the shopper marketing journey.
Whether consumers are writing a shopping list or selecting items for their online baskets, they are a world away from the theatre of the store and immune to its seductions. Yet there are some really engaging ways in which brands can speak to consumers in the home environment.
Content vs Context
In a marketing age where we are repeatedly told that content is king, where does that leave sampling, where the content is, literally, the contents? Instead of online content farms, in the case of cereal brands like Kellogg’s there are real farms growing wheat and corn; or, for Twining’s, plantations growing its tea.
I would argue that the context of sampling needs more thought than it currently gets. If I am arriving at Victoria station about to fight my way onto the tube on my way to a meeting, then the beautifully constructed sample pack thrust into my hand by a beautifully constructed brand ambassador containing seven tea bags from a well-known household brand is simply one more thing I don’t want to carry.
But if that same ‘content’ is delivered through my letterbox, into my home, where the context is perfect – take it into the kitchen, pour hot water on it, relax and enjoy – then content and context are in a perfect marriage which creates a perfect marketing campaign.
As Jonathan Perelman (formerly head of BuzzFeed’s video ventures and now Head of Digital Ventures at ICM Partners) said: “Content is king but distribution is queen and she wears the trousers!” He wasn’t thinking about in-home sampling, of course, but I think it applies just as well.
Five compelling reasons for sampling in home
The marketing press has recently been highlighting Nestle’s direct to consumer e-commerce drive and Unilever’s acquisition of the Dollar Shave Club as evidence of a growing trend towards brands engaging more with the consumer directly. Certainly, there are good reasons for companies to go down this route.
Reach. In a recent campaign, one major cereal brand used a combination of in-store sampling and targeted in-home sampling as part of a major new product launch. The in-store sampling covered 339 stores and delivered 63,338 samples. The in-home sampling was targeted to over two million households in specific retail catchments where shopping propensity data could predict which of 1,300 supermarkets would benefit from the campaign.
Cost. A campaign last year for a new snack brand hand-delivered their product to over half a million homes to support its launch in Tesco and Morrisons at roughly a fifth of the cost per sample that in-store sampling could offer.
Performance. In the case of the cereal brand mentioned above, in-home sampling generated real customer loyalty, as the product was used in the home and as such became part of the family routine. Over a six-month post-campaign evaluation period, households who had been exposed to the in-home sampling were seen to have added this brand to their brand preferences and continued to purchase, driving long-term return on investment. The stores that were supported with in-store sampling saw an initial uplift in sales but quickly returned to prior levels. The snack brand saw uplifts of up to 74% in sales in certain TV regions through in-home sampling which massively out-performed other media.
Measurability. Knowing which households have been targeted by the activity and which stores will be impacted by the activity gives brands enormous insight into the value the campaign has generated. Whether tracking through quantitative sales data either at an individual basket level or at a specific store uplift level, through social media buzz monitoring or via in depth post-campaign consumer research, direct-to-consumer promotions are inherently measurable. They can provide brands with valuable insights into the consumers who are buying their products and also deliver feedback on their products themselves. For example, our analysis has demonstrated that redeemers of coupons are 12 times more likely to make a repeat purchase while 65% of consumers would not have gone on to purchase a product without receiving the sample first.
Brand equity. When a brand puts itself on promotion at half price in their local store, shoppers think that the retailer is bringing them an incredible offer. The link and the equity is with the retailer rather than the brand. When the same promotion is delivered directly to the consumer in the name of the brand via targeted couponing, then that brand is receiving all of the equity.
Shopper marketing is Coming Home
For the vast majority of FMCG brands, the home is where their products will live and be used. Smart brands are beginning to realise the opportunity to engage directly with their target consumers and are reaping the rewards. Shopper Marketing really is coming home.
Mark Davies is Managing Director of Whistl Doordrop Media. Whistl is a sponsor of The IPM Awards 2017.