Shopper Insights: Experiential Marketing In The Grocery Channel

  Michael Paley,  Senior VP of Shopper Marketing & Experiential

Once a haven for generic product sampling storefront activations to drive traffic and short-lived incremental sales lifts, the grocery channel has quickly become an influential part of a consumer packaged goods marketer mix.

Why is experiential marketing important in the overall grocery category?

Experiential marketing enables retailers to engage shoppers through creative, behavior-based solutions that are retailer-friendly, consumer-smart, digitally enabled and brand-savvy.  In the grocery category, we see shoppers use social networks in real time, exploiting price comparison sites, product reviews and peer group recommendation while in the store more than ever before.

The key to successful engagement in grocery retail (or any other channel) is offering a great value price tag and a relevant, more imaginative experience that shoppers feel is worth sharing.  By getting shoppers talking — both in person and online — you expand your reach and capture valuable data to help drive and optimize future events, as well as product assortment, merchandising strategies, etc.  The idea is to influence behavior, not just purchase, and that requires marketers to work a little bit harder.

What can involving shoppers in different experiences, both in-store and online, accomplish for independent grocery retailers in particular?

Retailers and brands that employ unique, new experiences can better prioritize messaging and activation vehicles around three core purchase motivators present across any product category in the grocery channel: Value, rational, and emotional benefits.  This ensures retail programs address a specific shopper need state, makes the shopping experience more enjoyable, allows real-time data-capture (to adapt and adjust) and continues the experience after the shopper leaves the store to help facilitate and impact the next trip.

What trends do you see today in that space?

Ten years ago, consumer experiences at retail rarely extended beyond a free sample giveaway.  Today, that's just the beginning of a much deeper conversation.  With the help of social and mobile extensions, retailers are developing strategies that cover the entire shopping journey on one device.  From providing simple shopping list generators and self-scanning apps through to post-purchase loyalty incentives, single device campaigns are encouraging both frequency and long-term loyal behaviors for brands and retailers alike.

What kinds of experiences are shoppers looking for?

  1. Enhanced in-store experiences that makes shoppers feel they are special (customized solutions) and getting a good value.
  2. Help and advice on how to improve their lifestyle and financial decisions based on data they provided.
  3. Solution-based experiential and merchandising to provide convenience and cost savings, which often defines a successful shopping trip.
  4. Digital integration within the shopping experience including mobile apps for store navigation, promotion alerts and even augmented reality.
  5. Access to information on brands, recipes, etc., through web-to-life merchandising (mobile/digital CTA) while shopping.

Follow Mike Paley on Twitter   @MPTalkingShop

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