Viewpoints

From Wal-Mart to Walgreens, Avoiding the Dangerous 'T' in Shopper Marketing

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Temptation has been around a long time, going back all the way to the Garden of Eden.

It shows up in the business world too, and can even raise its ugly head in a seemingly noncontroversial practice like Shopper Marketing.

That point came to light in a recent SN webinar I moderated on Shopper Marketing in partnership with the Path to Purchase Institute (read the story here).

One of the speakers, Peter Breen, the institute’s managing director, content, outlined how shopper marketing can go off-track if practitioners give in to temptation by jettisoning the basic principles for quick gains.

“A lot of the programs we’ve seen start with great insights, identify a shopper need, get executed, and then, on top of that program goes a 10-for-$10 promotion, or something like that, which completely obscures the underlying goal.”

Breen’s point was that price promotions or short-term sales lifts shouldn’t be the focus. Instead, it should be on addressing shopping behavior and meeting business objectives of trading partners.

While increasing sales might be the ultimate result, it’s not the starting objective. Fortunately, Breen added, there’s been a recent trend away from the pursuit of quick gains, especially in the initiatives highlighted in the webinar, all of which won Effie Awards.

Far from focusing on short-term wins, these programs “had legs,” Breen said, by which he meant they were built to engage shoppers for a relatively long period of time.

For example, a Wal-Mart/Procter & Gamble program called Family Movie Night involved nine movies over 18 months. In that initiative, the two companies developed a series of movies that would address consumer concerns about not having enough family content to watch. The program included integrated marketing campaigns and drove incremental trips to Wal-Mart stores.

Another initiative, Walk With Walgreens, is an ongoing successful program that has tied into other efforts by the retailer, including breast cancer awareness. Walgreens aligned the effort with a new loyalty  program.

Breen and Peter Hoyt, the institute’s executive director and CEO, will present on this topic at the organization’s Shopper Marketing Expo, Oct. 16-18, at Navy Pier in Chicago.

Shopper marketing itself has legs, as it continues to build momentum. That’s why it’s useful to step back and recall what makes this practice so effective, and also what kinds of behavior can undermine it.

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David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Jon Springer

Jon Springer has been writing about food, food retailers and food retailing for more than 10 years, and is in his second tour of duty with Supermarket News. His prior experience includes covering the...
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