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Breaking News: 2012 Shopper Marketing Expo Learnings

Jennifer Scheel
Jennifer Scheel Account Executive

Last week was the Shopper Marketing Expo, put on by the Path to Purchase Institute in Chicago, IL. The best of the best in shopper marketing were there sharing valuable information. I attended four sessions and found some common themes running throughout:

I heard about insights from everyone. Art Sebastian from Kraft Foods spoke about how it took him six months to comb through the binders of insights Kraft had when he arrived. While I understand that most of us don’t have anywhere near that volume of research, I wonder if we are really looking at what we have and filling in the missing gaps. Our insights should build a story around the brand… if the story is incomplete, more insights are needed. If the insights tell you something other than what you know, trust it or do more research.

Brands are used to selling products, but consumers shop for solutions. We’ve heard it all too often from our own teams – ‘they’ve never done that’ (AKA: ‘I don’t know how to sell that in’). We need to push the envelope with our internal teams as well as our partners. Don’t accept the status quo and expect different results! Retailers are open to unique ideas.

There were many examples at the Expo of companies doing the unheard of with great success; here are two that stood out for me:

Kraft reinvented the deli by creating “Snack Smarter”, a solution for snacking. This launched in 2008 and since then Kraft has rolled out additional solutions such as Kraft’s mealtime solutions which included secondary placements in the meat case. They actually got retailers to replace proteins with Kraft’s cheese products. The proteins had higher margins for the retailers, but the increase in sales more than made up for it.

The Cough & Cold Care Package is a partnership between several manufacturers. What they found is that people are not only thinking about colds once they have one, but there is a cycle of awareness, prevention and solution that spans seven months. This provides additional opportunities for the brands as well as retailers. The team intentionally kept the number of branded products to a minimum so that retailers could add their own store brand cold solutions into the mix. The POP display was considered wildly successful, and is now in its second year.

News Flash: Your product is not being displayed as you intended it to be! We all spend so much time making sure our packaging is designed just right, only to learn that it doesn’t look anything like we’d planned once it hits the shelves. It really does make sense – the 16-year-old stock boy doesn’t share your vision, nor do the consumers sorting through your products. Plan for the worst, so you know that even then your product will be displayed in an acceptable manner.

Key Expo Takeaways

  • Build money into your budgets for research.
  • Push the envelope with in-store displays.
  • Be prepared for the worst when it comes to package design.
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