Retail marketing 2020: A reminder of what good looks like


Jan 27 2020

As told by Ian Scott, Retail Innovation Manager at Tag

As marketers, we know how easy it is to lose sight of what we initially set out to do. Meetings, reactive output over proactive strategy, new stakeholders or internal shifts, downsizing or upsizing efforts, the need to do more, faster and better, can quickly derail a flawless brand strategy. As we step into 2020, let’s recalibrate our marketing compass point in the direction of driving success.

Here are five simple but important reminders of what “good marketing” looks like, through the lens of a shopper marketing expert.

Good marketing tells a story. This mantra has been around for decades but with brands producing even more content, across wider channels and regions than ever before, telling the right story to the right audience is quite possibly the most important part of good marketing.

Cultural nuances and the complexity of relevant messaging across diverse markets is critical to ensure the message is relatable, authentic, emotional and consistent across all marketing content. As an example, I enjoy reading the Jack Daniels’ underground adverts in London: a series of stories that provide information about the founder, the business and even the hometown of brand, Lynchberg, Tennessee. These carefully crafted ads, are wordy, taking 2-3 minutes to read, but cleverly, this is the average time between trains, so is relevant to the environment. I now know that ironically, Jack Daniels is brewed in a town where public consumption of alcohol is illegal. This sort of quirky story telling creates a connection, as evidenced by me, a non-Jack Daniels drinker, fondly recalling these adverts.

The benefit of telling a compelling story is the increased engagement, retention and reaction from consumers, when compared to fact-based selling, which can often leave shoppers cold. How a brand aligns with the shoppers needs, beliefs and aspirations is growing in importance as we move into not just a consumer influenced but a consumer led world.

Even with all the data in the world, you can’t perfectly define your customer. We know that data is an important part of marketing strategy, and rightly so. However, it is important to consider the biggest inconsistent variable – humans. For example, a shopper might spend a couple of minutes comparing the price of different beers in a supermarket, deliberating over minimal price differences. An hour later he is in the pub, buying a round of drinks for friends and never once looks at the price. The same shopper, same product, buying an hour apart, totally different criteria for purchase.

We are fickle, unpredictable and emotionally driven, and it’s critical to understand this when researching shopper behavior. In addition, we need to understand need states – the emotion element that greatly influences our decision making in-store.

In order to best speak to the shopper, it is also important to understand “dwell time”. For traditional brick and mortar shopping locations, like a grocery store, dwell time is how long a person stands at the physical fixture and looks or reads. I recently heard from a client that the shopper spends less than one second of dwell time buying milk and more than 75 seconds selecting a bottle of spirits. Understanding that behavior is critical for marketers. If the display is going to drive purchase, then knowing how much time the shopper will spend at the display is paramount for creating the right content.

Stick to what you are good at. Meaning, find out what you want to be known for and do it better than anyone else. We read time and again about what marketers can to do keep up with big brands like Amazon and Apple. Most of us can’t compete with Amazon or Apple and we shouldn’t try. We know that shoppers are looking for a different experience across different shopping opportunities. Direct-to-consumer brands do this really well. Where Amazon becomes a giant marketplace, smaller D2C brands take a specialized, more customer centric approach, with a stronger focus on customer service and experience than any CPG or retail giant. The brands that can’t compete with the likes of these retail giants also have the ability to create more of a two-way communication with the customer, conveying a need and want for this product or service in their lives, in a way that can’t be done by industry giants.

Sustainability is important but don’t condemn brands that aren’t completely there, yet. There is, finally, a groundswell of opinion about sustainability, that is beginning to translate into the store environment. Single use plastic has become the 21st century’s version of CFC gas. With Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg publicly championing change and challenging businesses and individuals to do the right thing, we are all swept along on a wave of righteousness. As this happens, we need to be mindful of rushing to appease consumers, and getting it all wrong. UK retailer Iceland had to rethink its plastic bag free policy for fruit and vegetables after sales plummeted. They received criticism for backtracking, but how many businesses can accommodate a 20% drop in sales? Personally, I applaud their honesty and their willingness to revisit the issue and try again to get it right. We must remember that a business exists to make money, otherwise it is unsustainable. The process of change is expensive and lengthy, so let’s support brands that are trying to get it right, while also trying to survive.

Be authentic. This one is simple, yet so many brands get it wrong. Consumers can now research information from a variety of sources to qualify and clarify a brand’s claims. One of the biggest criticisms of store staff is their apparent lack of product knowledge, which often comes from staff needing to know about 500+ SKUs, while a shopper has spent an entire evening researching just one of them. Gone are the days when retailers and brands can fake it and lead (or mislead) shoppers into mistakenly buying their products. Shoppers are now the experts, and they are seeking genuine brands, aligned with their own beliefs, who can provide inspiration and education to deliver genuine value. 2020 is the year to be real, honest and authentic.

At Tag, we work alongside brands and agencies to improve marketing. We help brands tell a story across regions and dialects. Our capabilities in creative production, content creation, localization and transcreation, marketing production, sourcing and delivery allows us to create an end-to-end solution for marketers that builds and leverages master assets at scale and allows for brand consistency, authenticity and expansion.

Schedule a call today to find out how Tag can support your brand’s creative production and sourcing needs.

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