Dear Shopper Marketer,
I’ve read them. You’ve read them, too. There is an abundance of articles from renowned experts and amateurs alike, all agreeing on one thing: shopper marketing is going the way of digital marketing.
The basic premise behind this much-agreed upon statement is that shopper, like digital, needs to be a capability across—something that will inevitably cease to exist as we know it and be turned into something we infuse into everything we do.
I want to tell you that vision is fundamentally wrong and irresponsibly dangerous. I want to convince you shopper marketing must be a WHAT rather than a HOW.
But before I do that, I want to put forward a competing statement for your consideration: shopper marketing ACTUALLY needs to go the way of Hispanic marketing.
Hispanic marketing started to become a buzzword as early as the early 80s, but it wasn’t until the late 90s that it became the trend du jour (or is it, “trend del día?”), and the must-have capability that agencies and manufacturers wanted to add.
In the early 2000s, we argued that Hispanic Marketing was a colossal misnomer. The term implies—and many tacitly agreed—that Hispanic marketing was a kind of marketing, a sub-set if you will, with Hispanic acting as the descriptive adjective. That quickly led to many misguided efforts that we called sombrero marketing; just add a sombrero to your existing campaign, throw in Hispanic-looking (?) people, translate and be done. We know that doesn’t work. So we argued it wasn’t about Hispanic marketing, but rather marketing to Hispanics. Marketers that understand this difference succeed with Hispanics (for example, Bud Light) whereas those who didn’t continue to fail (too many to count).
The exact same thing needs to happen to Shopper Marketing. We all need to push to move from “shopper marketing” to “marketing to shoppers.”
From a HOW to a WHAT.
From a kind of marketing to marketing to a kind.
From a discipline to a service line.
You might be thinking: po-tay-to, po-tah-to. But I assure you that the difference, when embraced wholeheartedly, can bring about important changes. Here’s a short list of things to expect when switching from a “shopper marketing” mindset to a “marketing to shoppers” mindset.
- Demystification: Things suddenly “click” for more people. While the communication vehicles and messages might be different, it is still good old marketing. The perspective shift broadens our scope, elevates our stature and helps bring on board high-performing marketers into the activity of marketing to shoppers.
- Integration: It becomes easier to convince clients to think of marketing to shoppers as integrated marketing campaigns that travel seamlessly across media —any media—to reach, engage and influence shoppers and to convert shoppers into buyers.
- More shopper, more often, earlier: The shift enables a different conversation, one that happens further “upstream,” when brands are allocating money across activities. It allows us to cast a different light on shopper work—a light that helps us position marketing to shoppers as a year-round, strategic activity that cannot be relegated to activation windows.
- Increased accountability: When you market to shoppers, it is easier to set long- and short-term objectives, and easier to measure progress against them. Ease and clarity leads to increased accountability and a higher sense of purpose, a combination that will always yield positive, sustainable results.
So my dear shopper marketer, allow me to call you a marketer to shoppers: a marketer who leverages fundamental marketing principles and specializes in transforming shoppers into buyers, day-in and day-out.
Adrian Velazquez is VP, shopper strategist at Momentum Atlanta